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Canada Ontario minister Lisa MacLeod apologizes for ‘blunt’ words directed at Senators owner Eugene Melnyk

Lisa MacLeod, then Minister of Children, Community and Social Services, left, speaks at Queen's Park on March 21, 2019. Ms. MacLeod, who is now Ontario’s Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport, tweeted an apology Friday, July 5, to Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk, right, seen here speaking to Senators fans in 2017, for 'blunt' comments directed at Mr. Melnyk during a Rolling Stones concert.

Tijana Martin/Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

Ontario cabinet minister Lisa MacLeod has apologized for being “blunt” with Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk after, he alleges, she yelled profanities at him during a Rolling Stones concert.

Ms. MacLeod, Ontario’s Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport, said she gave Mr. Melnyk “some feedback” about her city’s hockey team at last weekend’s concert near Barrie, Ont., which she attended in an official capacity.

“I apologized to him for being so blunt,” she said in a Twitter post on Friday.

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“I have serious concerns about the state of our beloved Ottawa Senators! We need to get our team back on the road to winning the cup!”

Later on Friday night, Ms. MacLeod tweeted again about the incident.

“I want to be categorical about my exchange with @MelnykEugene at the Rolling Stones concert,” she wrote.

“I regret my inappropriate remarks and apologize for them. I have spoken with Mr. Melnyk, offered to meet him and would be happy to do so anytime.”

Mr. Melnyk detailed his encounter with Ms. MacLeod in an interview that ran on the front page of the Ottawa Sun on Friday.

Ms. MacLeod’s office said she was not available for an interview.

Mr. Melnyk said Ms. MacLeod, who represents the Ottawa-area riding of Nepean, approached him during the show while he was standing with family and friends and yelled, “Do you know who I am?”

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He said she told him she was his minister, then yelled profanities at him and called him a loser, according to the Sun report.

Mr. Melnyk said he wrote to Premier Doug Ford about the incident on Senators letterhead. The Premier’s Office had no comment about the matter.

The Senators owner also said he had never met Ms. MacLeod. But a picture of them in front of Queen’s Park, with Ms. MacLeod in a Senators jersey, appeared on social media from her account dated May, 2017.

In a statement to The Globe and Mail Friday, Mr. Melnyk said Mr. Ford called him about the incident, adding that he was “very impressed” by the Premier’s leadership.

“Unfortunately, Lisa McLeod hasn’t followed her boss’s example. Her tweet this morning takes no accountability for her actions and, in fact, tries to justify them,” Mr. Melnyk said.

“I’m moving on from this – walking away with a much higher opinion of the Premier and a much lower opinion of our Minister of Sport (ironic).”

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Asked about Ms. MacLeod’s comments, NDP MPP Marit Stiles said the way Ms. MacLeod treated people on disability support and the families of children with autism was much worse.

As minister of children, community and social services, she significantly capped funding for some families and, according to an internal review by a Progressive Conservative MPP, spread misinformation to justify her funding model for the autism program.

“Minister MacLeod is very quick to accuse everybody else of bullying and bad behaviour. But her record as a minister speaks for itself – and it is abysmal,” Ms. Stiles told reporters. “And at the end of the day, this is Mr. Ford’s responsibility.”

The Ontario Liberals called for Ms. MacLeod to be removed as minister and suspended from the PC caucus to undergo HR training.

Liberal MPP Michael Coteau called Ms. MacLeod’s conduct “inappropriate and unbecoming of a cabinet minister. It's clear the conduct is not changing.”

He noted that MPP Randy Hillier was kicked out of the PC caucus for allegedly saying, “yada yada yada” to parents of children with autism, a charge Mr. Hillier denied, while Ms. MacLeod remains a member of caucus.

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It is the second time Ms. MacLeod has apologized for comments she made as a minister.

In February, she said she was sorry if she made anyone feel threatened after a group of behaviour analysts said she warned them it would be a “long four years” if they didn’t support her new autism program. She recently labelled her former position as the “minister of tears” in her first speech as Minister of Tourism, which she called the “minister of cheers.”

She also recently addressed a profane online comment directed at her by television personality Gail Vaz-Oxlade by saying she’s “not tolerating it anymore.

“I’ve experienced death threats, online harassment & intimidation at public events that required police protection for months,” Ms. MacLeod wrote on Twitter on June 28.

“Disagree with me fine. But lines are being crossed.”

With a report from Jeff Gray in Toronto

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