Keith Ashfield samples baked goods, speculates on future matrimonial qualities

When photo ops get awkward

On Friday, Fisheries Minister Keith Ashfield staged a photo op in Fredericton.

In Fredericton, MP and federal Fisheries Minister Keith Ashfield, invited the media to a staged family conversation about the budget with Roland and Gina Moreno and their two daughters.

It was an opportunity to highlight the government’s emphasis on training young people for jobs the economy needs, but things went awkwardly off-script at the start as Ashfield sampled baked goods and chatted with eldest daughter Grace Moreno, a local high school student leader. “Grace, you’re a great cook,” Ashfield said. “You’re going to make a wonderful wife for somebody.”

This afternoon in QP, Megan Leslie—who seemed to tweet a reference to Mr. Ashfield’s remarks this weekend—asked the minister to account for his comments.

Megan Leslie: Monsieur le Président, vendredi dernier, le ministre des Pêches et des Océans a affirmé, et je cite: « Grace, vous êtes une excellente cuisinière. Vous allez faire une merveilleuse épouse. » Le ministre des Pêches et des Océans peut-il confirmer ces propos tenus dans le cadre de la promotion du budget?

Keith Ashfield: Mr. Speaker, I am glad the member opposite is following the newscast and our talk about the federal budget. It was indeed a great day to promote our budget on Friday. We had significant interest in it.

Megan Leslie: Mr. Speaker, leave it to the Conservatives to encourage young women to get married as part of their economic action plan. When the member said, “Grace, you’re a great cook. You’re going to make a wonderful wife for somebody”, his comments were disrespectful. In other words, it is like saying: there, there, stop planning for your future. Is this the kind of response that women can expect from the Conservatives with their economic action plan?

Keith Ashfield: Mr. Speaker, obviously the opposition members have little fault to find in our budget if this is the only type of question they can ask in this House.

Update 5:28pm. A statement from Mr. Ashfield.

“I would like to thank the Moreno family for taking the time to discuss Canada’s Economic Action Plan 2013. The family’s insightful comments and feedback are valuable to me and our Government as we continue to build a strong and prosperous nation.

“My comments to Grace Moreno have been taken out of context and were simply meant to compliment her on her genuine hospitality.

“Ms. Moreno is a gifted and active young member of her high school and our greater community. And she has a great future ahead of her.

“I am proud of our youth and I appreciate the contributions that she and other youth continue to make to our community and country.”

Update 11:24am. Via Facebook, a comment from Grace Moreno.

In regards to what Honourable Keith Ashfield said, I feel that it was a compliment. On the day that he visited, our family welcomed him as our guest and treated him with Filipino hospitality. I personally made him a FIlipino bread called “Ensaymada” (a delicacy that my mother taught me to make). He complimented me on the bread, and I appreciated the thanks. I was not offended whatsoever and it is unfair that the Minister’s comment was taken out of context.

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