Denzil Minnan-Wong

Toronto councillor tells colleague she should stick to knitting

Memo to all politicians everywhere: It's a bad idea to use phrases like "stick to the knitting" when talking about women, regardless of the context. Do you even look at Twitter?

Toronto's Deputy Mayor Denzil Minnan-Wong is being criticized today over what some are calling "sexist" comments he made about outgoing city planner (and noted rival) Jennifer Keesmaat.

The comments in question, published last week, are from a Toronto Sun article in which columnist Sue-Ann Levy describes Keesmat as "a darling of the left and the bike lane lobby."

"I'm looking for someone who is interested in paying attention to the planning department," Minnan-Wong said to Levy at the time, "and less interested in sending out tweets that have little to do with city planning."

Fair enough, I guess, but the metaphor he used to describe what he meant by this was... perhaps a bit careless.

Most people only learned of Minnan-Wong's "knitting" remarks today, after Keesmaat responded to them in an interview with Metro Morning.

Keesmat, who recently announced that she will be leaving her role as the city's chief planner after five years of service "to pursue other interests," told the CBC radio program that she was offended by what Minnan-Wong's said to the Toronto Sun.

"He might as well have told me to go back to the kitchen," she said. "And just so you know, I've never been there; I've never been a very good cook. I think it's a deeply offensive comment."

The public support she's receiving online right now shows she's far from alone in her sentiment.

"Good on @jen_keesmaat for calling out the Deputy Mayor's sexist comments," wrote city councillor Joe Cressy on Twitter. "All women and public servants should be treated with respect."

Councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon (the one who's trying to make drinking beer legal in Toronto parks) wrote similarly that "Chief Planner @jen_keesmaat has done great things to make TO more walkable, livable, vibrant! No need 4 sexist comments @DenzilMW. #Knitting."

#Knitting indeed, councillor. #Knitting.

Lead photo by

Andrew Louis


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