He claimed he wasn’t sure why she was there, “but she’s hot, so who cares!”
He also mentioned the number of young women in the audience, saying “Look at all the young girls. This is a felony waiting to happen.”
Joly says that Peters’ comments were clearly inappropriate, adding that this type of humour does not have a place at the Juno Awards.
The minister says that she is proud to represent an industry worth $53 billion, noting Canada is the third largest exporter of music in the world.
WATCH BELOW: The Tragically Hip’s Gord Downie among the winners at the 2017 Juno Awards
“We need to make sure that all our role models are supporting the importance of gender parity,” Joly said. “I really hope that he takes that into consideration and understands … the importance of what he said.”
The comment about the Minister of Canadian Heritage, who was there to present Ruth B with her Breakthrough Artist of the Year Award, sparked outrage on social media.
But the worst part of the night was when Russell Peters said "I don't know why she's here but she's hot" about the HONOURABLE Melanie Joly.
— Kate Sheffield (@kate_sheffield) April 3, 2017
— tia (@tiacar13) April 2, 2017
— Katie Novak (@keightyen) April 3, 2017
Peters’ “felony” joke gained a lot of social media backlash against the comedian’s hosting job.
I COULD watch the Junos, or I could turn it off and not listen to Russell Peters make another sex joke about underage girls? 🤔
— Patricia Karounos (@patriciakar) April 2, 2017
— Andrea Warner (@_AndreaWarner) April 3, 2017
— Bettyboo (@conchequeen2) April 4, 2017
Did Russell Peters make an underage girl joke & a misogynistic comment about MoH Melanie Joly in the opening of #Junos2017? Disappointing.
— Tattsjane (@tattsjane) April 3, 2017
Russell Peters should NOT be talking about young girls that way! Way to make it harder/more creepy for young women who appreciate/support 🎶.
— FabulousJennnq (@Jennnq666) April 3, 2017
@therealrussellp your "felony" comment was that of a low life.
— Torontoboy22 (@torontoboy22) April 4, 2017
— Sharron Matthews (@SharronMatthews) April 3, 2017
— With files from The Canadian Press