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Online backlash over sexist insult stings Tory Senator Patrick Brazeau

Senator Patrick Brazeau, shown in Halifax in 2007, has the worst attendance record of any of his Red Chamber colleagues this session.

Paul Darrow/Reuters

Conservative Senator Patrick Brazeau issued a reluctant apology to a parliamentary reporter on Tuesday after he was widely criticized for making a sexist comment about her on Twitter.

The remark came after The Canadian Press published a story by Jennifer Ditchburn, an Ottawa-based reporter, about the senator's poor attendance record, the worst of any member of the Red Chamber in the current session of Parliament.

Mr. Brazeau missed 25 per cent of the upper chamber sittings between June, 2011, and April, 2012, and 65 per cent of meetings at the aboriginal peoples committee on which he sits, according to The Canadian Press. He was also away for 31 per cent of the meetings of the human rights committee, of which he is a deputy chair.

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In an e-mail reply to The Canadian Press, the senator had cited "personal matters" as the reason for his absence.

After Ms. Ditchburn posted a link to the story on Twitter on Tuesday afternoon, Mr. Brazeau replied to say she had "no regard for personal lives or situations."

"While u smile Jen, others suffer," he wrote in a subsequent Tweet. "Change the D to a B in your last name and we're even! Don't mean it but needs saying."

The comment prompted a swift backlash on the social media site, with one user saying the name-calling was "utterly shameful behaviour."

"Shame on you, Brazeau. Bullying and insulting a journalist for raising a legit issue? Even for a senator, a new low," Twitter user Valerie MacLean wrote.

Several hours after posting the offending message, Mr. Brazeau apologized for the online remarks.

"They were done because of my personal circumstance regarding your story," he wrote to Ms. Ditchburn. "I'm hardworker and take my position seriously but personal issues always comes 1st. Ppl are sometimes in need. Sorry!"

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Mr. Brazeau was last in the spotlight in late March, when he lost a charity boxing match to Liberal MP Justin Trudeau. He had been favoured to win, but lost in a technical knockout.

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About the Author
Parliamentary reporter

Kim Mackrael has been a reporter for The Globe and Mail since 2011. She joined the Ottawa bureau Sept. 2012. More

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