Alberta politician won't be sanctioned for mocking women's rights in blog

EDMONTON - Alberta government backbencher Doug Elniski was not formally sanctioned Tuesday for mocking women's rights on his blog and for Twittering about bikini-clad car washers.

EDMONTON - Alberta government backbencher Doug Elniski was not formally sanctioned Tuesday for mocking women's rights on his blog and for Twittering about bikini-clad car washers.

But he did get an earful from his boss.

"I expressed to him how disappointed I was with his comments, how distracting it is to the good work that the government is doing in preparing this province for the future," Premier Ed Stelmach told reporters after meeting with Elniski.

"They don't reflect my values, they don't reflect the values of our government, they don't reflect the values of the caucus nor of the Alberta Progressive Conservative Party."

"I asked him to apologize."

Stelmach said Elniski will not be relieved of committee duties, saying the apology and the public embarrassment are enough.

"There is a huge consequence to the member, obviously emotionally," he said.

"I'm sure Mr. Elniski, after living through this, has learned from it."

The premier's office also announced Tuesday it was sending out reminder notes to members on the pitfalls of blogging and other social-networking sites.

"It's a new social media and, as evidenced by Mr. Elniski, these matters can really get away on you," said Stelmach.

Opposition NDP critic Rachel Notley, who brought the issue to public attention Monday, said Stelmach is confusing the medium with the message.

"The premier is completely missing the point," she said in an interview.

"This issue isn't about how his caucus communicates. It's about what his caucus communicates, what they believe and the fundamental values underlying that communication."

Elniski, a married father with three adult daughters, came under fire from Notley and others for a June 13 blog posting.

The posting, titled "Grad speeches," urged young girls to turn their frowns upside down.

"Men are attracted to smiles, so smile," he wrote.

"And don't give me that 'treated equal,' stuff. If you want Equal, it comes in little packages at Starbucks," he wrote, referring to the coffee sweetener.

He also warned, in blue language, that a frowning woman can be a turn-off: "There is nothing a man wants less than a woman scowling, because he thinks he is going to get shit for something and has no idea what."

On the same day, he posted the following Twitter comment; "bikini car wash 82 129 Ave. girls look cold."

"I can't defend or justify this action in any way at all," Elniski told reporters Tuesday.

"This doesn't reflect my own beliefs. I have a staunch group of adult daughters, and they're pretty good at keeping me tuned into stuff. And I gotta tell you I've had the anatomy chewed on pretty good the last couple of days, and mostly from home."

The Edmonton-Calder member of the legislature, first elected over a year ago in a general election, said he couldn't remember why he wrote the comments.

"Whatever motivation or relevance it had at the time dissipated in a heartbeat."

He said the bikini comment may be OK for non-elected officials, but "for someone who is in public office is not appropriate."

He said he has taken his blog down to make sure there are no more offensive postings.

He said he will blog again, but now plans to employ the buddy system.

"I'm going to have all my blog posts vetted," he said, but said he hasn't decided who will do the editing.

It wasn't the first time Elniski took heat for his online musings.

On the weekend, he angered members of Edmonton's gay community over June 13 Twitter comments made during a gay pride parade.

"I am surrounded by bumping and grinding lesbians," he wrote, adding, "that guy has size 14 stilettos."

Elniski later said the parade comments were not meant to be malicious. He said he is not insensitive to gay issues and even has a gay cousin.

Political opponents said Elniski's comments were indicative of a broader mindset.

A week ago, Alberta Finance Minister Iris Evans made headlines for suggesting that two-income parents weren't caring for their children properly.

This spring, Stelmach's government was criticized by teachers and gay and lesbian groups for passing legislation that allows parents to pull their kids out of classroom discussions dealing with religion and sex, including sexual orientation.

"Over the course of the last few weeks we've seen a real demonstration of tremendous social conservatism out of that caucus," said Notley.

 
 
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