Treasury Board President Tony Clement has apologized for insulting a 15-year-old boy during a Twitter spat over spelling mistakes.

Keith Pettinger, a student at Parry Sound High School, was following Clement’s Twitter feed on Saturday evening and decided to call out the cabinet minister on his spelling.

Clement, watching Hockey Night in Canada, said on Twitter: “Coach’s Corner gave me a lot to think about tonite.”

Pettinger shot back: “If you can’t spell, how can you run Canada’s treasury?” He then asked whether Clement would like to come to school with him and learn to spell properly.


Clement didn’t respond until Sunday, and then through the direct-message feature on Twitter, which only the recipient can see.

“Ha ha ur fnny,” Clement’s first tweet said. Then the minister accused Pettinger of misspelling “don’t know.”

“It’s ‘don’t know’, not ‘dunno.’ Jack ass,” Clement said.

Pettinger replied to Clement that he wasn’t aware of using that spelling, but then said: “I must admit that my spelling and grammar is not great. I’m sorry for calling you out … I just wanted someone so involved with my and Canada’s money to spell properly.”

Pettinger sent screen shots of the conversation to the Toronto Star and said in an email: “I believe that this is wrong, and uncalled for. One of our country’s leaders cannot be insulting fellow Canadians.”

On Monday, Clement acknowledged the incident and apologized.

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