Alberta premier Ralph Klein joke outrages Liberal MP Belinda Stronach

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Monday, November 13, 2006

Alberta premier Ralph Klein was at the annual Calgary Homeless Foundation roast Tuesday evening when he poked fun at Liberal MP Belinda Stronach crossing the floor from the Conservatives to the Liberals. "I wasn't surprised that she crossed over to the Liberals. I don't think she ever did have a Conservative bone in her body. Well, maybe one." [Referring to Conservative MP Peter MacKay, her ex boyfriend]. "Well, speaking of Peter MacKay...," he continued.

Klein refused to apologize for the remark saying: "I'm making no apologies....I read the copy and I approved. I thought it was a funny line....So did Bruce [his bodyguard]," he added.

"A roast is a roast is a roast. It's not a toast," Klein told reporters.

The audience laughed at the joke, but after some people said they felt uncomfortable with it.

"Ms. Stronach roasted the premier two years ago and made remarks about his weight, his clothing and even his flatulence," Marisa Etmanski, Klein's press secretary, told the Canadian Press. "In a roast situation, these remarks were hysterical, and that's the same kind of thing that happened this year."

Ralph Klein (far right) at the 2005 Calgary Stampede Parade

Stronach, a feminist, was offended by the joke and said that "we want to attract many more women to participate in politics" and "improve the civility that occurs in public life."

Stronach was in Montreal on Thursday for an international conference on global poverty and defended herself from the comment. "Ralph should put his money where his mouth is and buy a whole bunch of bednets to save kids from malaria in Africa."

The joke was taken from Mr. MacKay's alleged comment calling Stronach a "dog" last month in the House of Commons.

"I don't know of any person who is more respectful of women, who is less inclined to tell off-colour stories or use improper language," said Shirley McClellan, Klein's deputy premier. "I've worked with this gentleman for 17 years, and have never been treated with anything more than the utmost respect. And I am so disappointed in our media."

The video (see external links section) has made its way around the popular internet video site YouTube. It has been viewed more than 19,500 times and more than 100 comments had been posted about the video.