Ottawa: After the Liberal and NDP MPs called out Conservative MP Michael Cooper for his comments to Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly, Cooper said that he wasn’t being sexist and would have said the same thing had she been a man.

Earlier, Liberal and NDP MPs have strongly objected to comment he made to Joly during a hearing on foreign interference on Thursday and termed it “shameful” and “completely unacceptable”.

“You’ve been very tough with your Beijing counterpart. You even stared into his eyes and he must have been scared,” Conservative MP Cooper told Joly during a combative and intense meeting of the Procedure and House Affairs Committee (PROC).”

At the request of the committee, Joly and Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc had arrived to testify.

During her conversation with her Chinese counterpart, Qin Gang, she made it clear that her government will not tolerate any foreign interference in Canadian democracy and internal affairs, and secondly, they will not be able to stand any kind of compromise in their sovereignty.

“That’s why this kind of tough negotiation is very important,” Joly said. We don’t find any fun in doing this but it’s very important for Canadians.”

Responding to Cooper’s comments, Joly said, “You must have known China very well because you have been to China in the past as a Parliamentarian. So you can understand that when we get divided, we can fall into the trap of a country like China.”

She was questioned for a few minutes by Cooper, but later liberal and NDP MPs asked Cooper to apologize to the minister for mistreating Jolie.

Justifying his comment, Cooper said that his comments had nothing to do with Minister’s gender.

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