OTTAWA – A New Democrat MP has formally lodged a complaint against a Conservative senator for what she describes as a condescending, “misogynistic,” personal attack against her.
Charmaine Borg has asked the Speaker of the House of Commons to rule that her ability to do her job as an MP was impeded by a letter sent to her last week from Sen. Jean-Guy Dagenais.
In the letter, which was copied to all MPs, senators and their staff, Dagenais characterized Borg as a whiny, ignorant, useless Quebec MP who was elected by fluke and stands little chance of being re-elected.
Dagenais’ letter was sent in response to a flyer Borg sent out in her riding advocating the NDP’s long-held belief that the Senate should be abolished.
Borg says she was particularly insulted by Dagenais’ suggestion that she should get some books from the parliamentary library to inform herself about the Senate before criticizing the institution.
Borg, who is just 23 years old, says that’s the kind of “old-school mentality” that discourages young women from entering politics.
“The overall tone of this letter suggests that I am simply a little girl who does not take her work seriously,” Borg told the Commons on Monday.
Outside the chamber, Borg called the tone “very misogynistic” and added: “I think if I was an old white man, he wouldn’t have attacked me.”
The Speaker did not rule immediately on Borg’s question of privilege.
In an interview last week, Dagenais said his letter is part of a campaign by some Conservative senators, including Senate Speaker Noel Kinsella, to defend themselves and their institution after taking a year-long drubbing over the Senate expenses scandal.
Kinsella, who is normally a neutral referee in the upper chamber, last week issued an unprecedented statement blasting NDP Leader Tom Mulcair for accusing him of making fraudulent housing expense claims.
“When they will attack the Senate, from now on they will have to expect a reaction from senators,” Dagenais said.
“And I will be one of those … If they want a war of (parliamentary) chambers, we’ll give them one.”