An Ontario cabinet minister said Friday that she apologized to the owner of the Ottawa Senators for being “blunt” – which came after she reportedly hurled a profane tirade at Eugene Melnyk at a Rolling Stones concert.
Tourism, Culture and Sport Minister Lisa MacLeod described the encounter as her giving Melnyk “feedback” on the management of the hockey team.
“Let me set the record straight, I gave (Melnyk) some feedback at the Rolling Stones concert and I apologized to him for being so blunt,” she wrote on Twitter. “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!”
The Ottawa Citizen reported that MacLeod saw Melnyk at Saturday’s concert near Barrie, Ont., yelled at him that she is his minister and swore at him.
“I am your minister and you’re a f—ing piece of s–t and you’re a f—ing loser,” MacLeod said, as recounted by Melnyk to the newspaper.
Let me set the record straight, I gave @MelnykEugene some feedback at the Rolling Stones concert and I apologized to him for being so blunt. 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!
— Lisa MacLeod (@MacLeodLisa) July 5, 2019
She later doubled-down, sending out a second tweet saying she regretted her “inappropriate remarks” and has apologized to him. MacLeod added she spoke with Melnyk and offered to meet him.
The Citizen reported that Melnyk complained to the premier’s office and that both MacLeod and Premier Doug Ford later called him. Ford’s office told The Canadian Press that it had no comment beyond MacLeod’s tweet. Melnyk was not immediately available for comment.
MacLeod was recently demoted from Children, Community and Social Services after her handling of the autism program sparked outrage.
She was the target of frequent criticism in that role, and New Democrat Marit Stiles noted Friday that MacLeod has previously said she wouldn’t tolerate bullying.
“I don’t know why she thinks that it’s OK for her to bully and use that kind of language with a private citizen,” Stiles said.
Ford will have to make a decision about what behaviour he will tolerate from his ministers, she said.
“At the end of the day, this is Mr. Ford’s government,” Stiles said. “He is the premier of this province. He needs to make a call on this and I would say he needs to set the bar a whole lot higher than this.”
The Ontario Liberal caucus said Ford needs to remove MacLeod as a cabinet minister “pending any remedial human-resources training.”
“Premier Ford has suspended a member of his caucus for saying, ‘yada, yada, yada.’ Surely he can see that Minister MacLeod’s pattern of behaviour is much worse than an offside comment,” Michael Coteau said in a statement on behalf of the Liberal Caucus.
Randy Hillier – the minister Coteau referred to – was later kicked out of the PC caucus for not being a “team player,” though he says it was because he clashed with Ford’s now former chief of staff Dean French.
Melnyk’s hockey team has endured a series of on- and off-ice controversies since coming within a goal of making the Stanley Cup final in 2017.
Melnyk himself has been the target of criticism among some Ottawa fans. Months after he criticized fan support and said the team could move elsewhere if support doesn’t improve, four billboards went up across the city with the hashtag #MelnykOut.
Earlier this year, a plan to develop land near downtown Ottawa featuring a new arena for the Senators fell apart after Melnyk and business partners failed to solve a dispute.
On the ice, the Senators finished last in the NHL standings this past season after going into rebuilding mode following the trade of captain Erik Karlsson on the first day of training camp.