08.14.2013 09:20 AM

To and about Glen McGregor

The Sun is doing a clarification, but I wanted to do more than that. Here it is:

I owe Glen McGregor a clarification, and perhaps even a correction. But I owe readers some context.

First, the clarification/correction. Back in June, McGregor – formerly of Frank Magazine, presently of the Ottawa Citizen – asked MP Eve Adams about expensing hair care products during the last election. Adams responded (smartly, I thought) on Twitter, and out in the open.

Later, McGregor decided to ask another MP, Michelle Rempel – who, like Adams, is young, telegenic, Conservative and female – about whether she also expensed hair care products. McGregor asked Rempel the question in the House of Commons foyer, as she was walking past.

Rempel kept walking, but then sharply turned and addressed McGregor. She was “not amused” by McGregor’s question, he later admitted. She asked McGregor if he had asked any of her male colleagues the same question. McGregor – perhaps feeling sheepish, perhaps not – acknowledged that Rempel’s question was “fair.” So he found some male MPs to ask the question.

Rempel later tweeted: “Thank you Glen, on behalf of all women in this place, for singling me out on first instance to ask me to comment on hair product expenses. In doing so, you no doubt, have inspired more women to run for office. And since you asked me to opine on this particular question, rather than my opinion on policy of the day, the answer is no.”

When I heard about how McGregor had dealt with Rempel, I thought it was plainly sexist. So did plenty of others, whether Conservatives or not. I also thought Rempel (like Adams) dealt with him in precisely the right way.

This week, I wrote a column about sexism in politics. I cited a number of examples. In one, I wrote that McGregor had asked Rempel about the hair care products she uses. McGregor read that, and called the Sun to demand a correction. He deserves one: he didn’t ask Rempel about the hair care products she uses. In fact, he asked her about expensing the hair care products she uses. So, again, I apologize unreservedly to Glen McGregor for my error.

I won’t apologize, however, for expressing the opinion that his question to Rempel was sexist. I still think it was, whether it was about hair care expenses or not. Rempel apparently thought the question was sexist, too. Her tweet makes that pretty clear, I think.

Now, here’s where the context part comes in.

Glen McGregor is one of the most ardent critics of Sun News. He tweets and writes critical stuff about the conservative TV network more than any other reporter, I would think.

McGregor is also no fan of Yours Truly. Back when he was with Frank magazine, and when me and my then-wife were the target of neo-Nazi threats because of a book I’d written, the magazine published our home address. The Ottawa Police said our lives had been placed in danger as a result. Later on, when we separated, McGregor wrote to me and said I was “silly” because I had objected to the fact that he knew details about our divorce, and was seemingly interested in publishing them.

More generally, I think Glen McGregor is a real piece of work. He was at Frank when the magazine published its now-infamous “Deflower Caroline Mulroney” contest. At the time, Mulroney was a teenager. When her father (appropriately, I thought) admitted he’d contemplated taking a baseball bat to McGregor and crew for their “contest,” a member of McGregor’s family said that Glen was owed an apology.

Anyway, that’s the context. A picture of Glen McGregor – a former strip club disk jockey – emerges out of all that. It says a lot more than I ever could.

But is he owed a correction and apology for my big error? Yes, he is.

Now, he can clip it out, and put it in a file next to the “Deflower Caroline Mulroney” contest stuff.


  1. dave says:

    I am old….older than even the guy who owns this comment board…a big part of my life has been discovering gender/sexist prejudices that I just took for granted…probably lots to go…in gender equality, I sometimes think that we have been going backwards since about 1980…so, it’s good to point out ways that we display our prejudices…

    Still, I have another prejudice that has to do with public service…I am interested in what kinds of things elected people and appointees(like senators) are getting tax payers to pay for…I am interested in exactly who is being served by those in public service…I guess sometimes we stumble on to this by soemone starting with a racist, ethnic, religious, or sexist targetting.

  2. Marie says:

    I couldn’t care less, he’s a good journo unlike so so many others. Political and media culture are corrupt to the core in this country.

    • Christine says:

      “good journo”? Wow just wow. To refer to Canada’s premier yellow journalist as good reveals a great deal about you.

  3. GFMD says:

    If I am not mistaken, Mr. Mulroney used the word shotgun instead of baseball bat.

  4. PP says:

    I do understand that there is some history between the two of you which might have coloured this incident. However, there is a big difference between asking a person, male or female, what hair products he/she uses or whether the cost of those products had been expensed to the great unwashed. To further put this into context, he asked Rempel this only after revelations that Eve Adams had expensed her nail and hair saloon expenses. I had always wondered why the media, including the Sun which appears on the lookout for the public interest (cue all the reports about Justin Trudeau allegedly unethically charging speaker fees of charities), did not raise a stink about Harper expensing five haircuts costing about $2K each in the period leading up to the G8/G20 summit. What comes with a $2K haircut, Warren?

  5. KP says:

    The question was actually asked in context after Eve Adams was busted expensing things like cosmetics, hair products, etc on the public dime. Is it sexist? Probably, but Harper and Flaherty have expensed personal grooming stuff too. McGregor may be a piece of work – he is – but don’t stoop to Ezra’s favourite insult of ‘strip club DJ,’ WK. You’re better than that.

  6. Sean O'. says:

    Bullies always like to dish it out but start bawling when people push back – classic. Just can’t believe McGregor’s family said that Glen was owed an apology – if it were I, he would have been cut out of the will and Christmas. Nor, can I believe he is playing the victim card with Kinsella.

    Seems to me the thing to do is stage a massive boycott of McGregor and any organization that finances him. For those that need a refresher, here’s the original:

    “You must shun him on the roadside when you meet him, you must shun him in the streets of the town, you must shun him in the shop, you must shun him in the fairgreen and in the marketplace and even in the place of worship, by leaving him alone, by putting him in a moral Coventry, by isolating him from the rest of his country as if he were the leper of old, you must show your detestation of the crime he has committed.”

    As a psychologist, in all seriousness, I think much of Glen’s hatred of women stems from the fact he is borderline micropenis. He feels threatened by them and over-compensates by the macho, misogynistic routine – classic. Glen, I would encourage you to transcend gender and offer a sincere and heartfelt apology to the Mulroneys and the Kinsellas. Nothing could be more healing and liberating.


    • dave says:

      Sean…as a non psychologist, I thank you for the insight that it comes down to penis size.

      (Yr sessions with yr male clients must be just a quick physical, and that’s it.)

  7. Ronald O'Dowd says:


    Value for money when it comes to haircuts tends to be a tricky thing. Appraisal by the beholder is often the critical factor.

  8. Ian Howard says:

    The need to make news more interesting in the television and internet age has made it possible to ignore issues. Image and how one is perceived is far more important than the ability to deliver a functioning government. Calling Laura Miller a Valley Girl is so much easier and interesting than methodically taking apart the failed process around the gas plants. Reducing an MP to their expense account on grooming products is a sound bite, engaging them in a dialogue about complicated issues means a viewer tuning out.
    We are an ignorant electorate that gets the government we deserve because if it can’t be understood something in thirty seconds people move on.

  9. DJ says:

    All I get from this is the notion that Canadian politics, and the people who cover it, are as childish as ever.

  10. Peter says:

    As i am a friend of both Glen and Warren, i’ll try to neutrally make two points:

    1. I don’t recall any journo sweeping the awards as Glen and Maher did this year, re. robocalls. He’s also one of the guys who drove the whole Senate scandal coverage. Many other egs of him holding the powerful to account. Yeah, he’s pretty aggressive, and we’re all vulnerable to criticism if you go over our life’s work. But he’s a credit to the profession and an important part of Canadian democracy’s furniture.

    2. That Glen later acknowledged his mistake (which is in character) by saying Michelle’s complaint was “fair” — and like many i also admire her — is to his credit. If I’d talked to Glen beforehand i would have urged him to talk to the many male MPs on both sides of the chamber who obviously dye their hair. Do those Rinaldo’s bills get covered by taxpayers? I frankly (pardon the pun) don’t have it in me at this stage of my career in going around asking that question, and part of the reason for not doing so is that i can’t imagine they’d answer — or answer honestly. But it was a fair question for Glen to ask given his initial coverage of the matter relating to Adams.

    And yeah, it wasn’t a baseball bat, it was a gun, if i’m recalling Mulroney’s comment correctly.

    • Warren says:

      When we had a cop camped out in our guestroom for a few days, I have to admit, I wasn’t preoccupied with whether Glen would win the national newspaper award or not that year.

    • JWAZ says:

      You mean the robocall scandal that – based on recently released court docs – looks to have been perpetrated by a single campaign worker. Yes, investigative journalism at its peak.

  11. Rock star rock band make-up

    the PM was sporting enough eyeliner to make an ’80s rock band proud.

    The Speaker: The Hon. Member for Labrador

    Mr. Todd Russell (Labrador, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, Canadians speculated for months whether the PM was sporting enough eyeliner to make an ’80s rock band proud.

  12. Well said, Warren. I remember the “Deflower Caroline Mulroney” contest, pretty crude stuff. People involved in such things have warped moral compasses and never ever change, IMO.

  13. There is another aspect to this issue that gets lost in the zeal to uncover every expense line item, which is that these were expenses incurred during the course of an election campaign.

    Since part of our election finance system is based on the idea of reporting EVERYTHING to be sure you haven’t gone over the legislated expense ceiling, hounding the MPs for what they reported as campaign expenses or personal expenses is actually wrong-headed. The incentive should be to report everything, and then let Elections Canada decide whether it is an election expense (comes under the ceiling, and rebatable) or a candidate expense (outside the limit, but rebatable) or neither (neither under the ceiling nor rebatable). Submit the reported expenses, by all means, and then let Elections Canada delete it in the “as reviewed” version of the return, when calculating the rebate.

    No-one who has worked for any candidate (but particularly a woman candidate) would deny that presentation and grooming are key areas of attention during a campaign. Are extraordinary expenses to that end worthy of reporting? Could a candidate spend less on them if she/he bought more signs or vice versa? All good — regulatory — questions.

    What you don’t want, surely, is people *not* reporting expenses that could come under the ceiling (for fear of a bad news story), since that could undermine the entire democratic regulatory system.

    Anyways, Glen is a very fair, very persistent person, maybe occasionally to a point I don’t agree with, but never maliciously I don’t believe. Persistence getting one into the occasional trouble is a characteristic also linked to the author of this blog, I note.

  14. Greg Vezina says:

    Actually these expenses are questionable. The fact is Revenue Canada does not not allow employees to write off grooming expenses. “Most employees cannot claim employment expenses. You cannot deduct the cost of travel to and from work, or other expenses, such as most tools and clothing.” http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/employmentexpenses/ Costs of haircuts, dry-cleaning, most clothing and clothing repair are not deductible business expenses. See the Tax Court of Canada case Weber v. The Queen. http://decision.tcc-cci.gc.ca/tcc-cci/decisions/en/item/25949/index.do Nor does Elections Canada allow it. http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/12/11/story_n_4425300.html

  15. M5SLIB says:

    Dear Warren,

    Please don’t ever apologize to me. Thx

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