• By: Dan Donovan

Calling All Neanderthals! The REAL BARBIE GERRY “The DITZ” RITZ

There is a great saying from the Maritimes that describes someone who is, well, STUPID. You refer to someone who is genuinely stupid as “dumber than a bag of hammers.”  Now at work, I like to say to people that sometimes when bad things happen and you are trying to figure it out and you can’t, it’s probably because you thought of everything except the STUPID factor. Then, once you realize the STUPID factor was involved, it all makes sense.

A case in point is what happened when it came to light that Conservative MP Gerry Ritz, a former Harper government Minister of Agriculture, referred to Liberal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna as a “Climate Barbie” on Twitter, Tuesday night.

When you live in the bubble that is Ottawa you hear lots of things. I first heard the term “Climate Barbie” in reference to Catherine McKenna shortly after the 2015 election. It was from a media colleague who had dropped our offices and when he said it, I was genuinely offended and told him so. His comment was meant to be denigrating and was said with that edge that you know is full of sexism and contempt for someone. What bothered me most was that he actually thought it was funny and appropriate to say this to me and my colleagues at work. It reminded me of the nasty comments many conservatives used, when they went ballistic back in 2005, when Belinda Stronach crossed the floor to the Liberals. In one national column in a conservative leaning newspaper, a writer actually referred to her as a bitch. I was shocked they published it. It was hateful and misogynistic, much like Ritz’s comments about McKenna.

These types of phrases are used to demean and offend people at a very personal level. Ritz used the phrase as his means to put “McKenna” in “her” place.  

He has done this before.

In October 2016, Ritz suggested that Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland was incapable or unwilling to do her job. In Question Period he demanded that: “the prime minister grab some adult supervision, get on a plane, and go back over to Brussels and get this job done.”  The jab was so inappropriate and over the top it led one to think if Ritz forgot to shave his hands and plug in his brain before he came out of his cave earlier in the day. To her credit, Freeland later retorted that: “I am 48 years old — I think I have the wrinkles and the grey hair to prove it — and I’m proud of the things I’ve accomplished in my life.”

A bigger problem with Ritz’s comments is the way the Tories responded to them. It took Andrew Scheer far too long yesterday to rebut them.  He had a chance to rebut them in Question Period but chose not to do so. Instinct should have told him to shut this down and apologize for the comments on the spot. He didn’t and that is a problem. To Scheer’s credit, he later called McKenna to apologize. Thankfully, maybe Scheer has learned something from former Conservative Interim Leader Rona Ambrose.  When she first took on the role of Interim Leader in 2015, Ambrose told Conservatives to change their approach to politics, saying: “We talk about tone being substantive and not petty, and I said tone was important, to be strong, but not angry.''  She added: “Tone is also about respect, and it's about how you treat one another in caucus, outside of caucus, and also how you treat other people in the House. If you want tone to change, it starts with respect.''


This is why Gerry "the Ditz" Ritz got it all wrong and why all the other Conservatives who continue to try to defend his remarks are examples of the “you can’t account for stupid” rule. 

For the record, Catherine McKenna is a very accomplished person. In fact, we were so impressed with her that we published a cover story profiling her, in November 2016.  She was elected to represent the riding of Ottawa Centre in the House of Commons in the 2015 federal election after defeating Paul Dewar, one of the most popular and likeable NDP MPs in Canada. In her election campaign she shook over 100,000 hands. In Ottawa, she is a highly respected and much liked political figure. Fluently bilingual, she was appointed to the key role of Minister of Environment and Climate Change in the Cabinet ahead of the obvious choices like David McGuinty, former General Andrew Leslie and the well regarded Mauril Belanger (deceased).


Because she is SMART and very capable.  McKenna has a master’s degree from the London School of Economics and a law degree from McGill University. McKenna has taught at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs. She practiced competition, trade, and constitutional law at Stikeman Elliott LLP where she worked on international trade, competition, investment and constitutional files.  She was also senior counsel on the Right Honourable Antonio Lamer’s review of Canada’s military justice system. She is the co-founder of Canadian Lawyers Abroad, a University of Ottawa-based charity that helps Canadian law students and law firms do pro bono human rights legal work in developing countries. She was a senior negotiator with the United Nations peacekeeping mission in East Timor which culminated in the Timor Sea Treaty providing for the joint exploitation of petroleum resources in a part of the Timor Sea. Oh yeah, besides all this, she is married and has three children and has always been very active in the community.

So, when you know all of these things about a person, how could anyone, anywhere, possibly refer to such a person as “Climate Barbie”? This comment only comes from ignorance and from someone who wants to personally denigrate another. It can only come from a DITZ. Websters dictionary defines a DITZ as a scatterbrained person. So, it is with that in mind that we now understand the “Gerry RitzDitz” comments which could probably be made into a new dance where you try to bend your head over and stick it up your backside while still dancing . . . but I digress.

Catherine McKenna doesn’t need us to defend her. She is more than capable of holding her own. So, I dedicate this column to my daughters who are 19 and 20 and finding their own path in university and in life.  Hopefully, because of the examples set by women like McKenna and Freeland and Ambrose, they will never be denigrated in public by pig headed men who don’t know how to deal with women who are just way smarter than them.  And, if they are, they will be able to laugh it off by saying, well you just can’t account for stupid!