Canada finance minister cancels speech at men's club after criticism

Wed Aug 26, 2015 5:04pm EDT
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TORONTO Aug 26 (Reuters) - An economic speech by Canadian Finance Minister Joe Oliver was abruptly canceled on Wednesday after criticism that the Conservative politician's event was to take place at a private men's club in Toronto.

Oliver, a high-profile member of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's cabinet, was scheduled to speak on the future of the Canadian economy at the Cambridge Club, which bills itself as a club "for men who work hard and play hard." The event was for members and guests only.

The appearance was canceled shortly before it was to begin after criticism on social media about Oliver's decision to choose such an exclusive audience. Canada's economy is teetering on recession amid low oil prices and global turmoil.

"Finance @MinJoeOliver to give TV address on state of Canada's economy. Women urged to stay in kitchen & make sandwiches," tweeted Canadian comedian Rick Mercer.

The Conservative government is seeking a rare fourth term in office after nine years in power, but is trailing the left-leaning New Democrats in a tight three-way race ahead of the Oct. 19 election.

"Joe Oliver speaks to many groups, organizations and individuals in many places on a variety of topics, including the economy, security and leadership," a campaign spokesperson said in a statement. The reason for the cancellation was not given.

The opposition has been calling for Oliver to provide a fiscal and economic update in light of the recent slide in oil prices and the possibility that the Canadian economy was in recession in the first half of the year. (Reporting by Andrea Hopkins in Toronto and Leah Schnurr in Ottawa; Editing by Leslie Adler)