Braving the Backlash From the Hill

Posted 2007-05-28 by Samantha Hendrickson | Jurisfemme Publications – Volume 25, No. 1, Spring 2007

The current Conservative government of Canada insists that all women have full equality in our country, but as women we know this simply is not the case. With the 40% cut to Status of Women Canada, closure of 12 offices, abolition of the Court Challenges Program, and a removal of the word ‘equality’ as an objective for the Women’s Program, women's advocacy groups and organizations are left with few alternatives. Members of Parliament from the New Democratic Party (NDP), the Bloc Québécois and the Liberal Party are all fighting Stephen Harper’s recent decisions in the House of Commons.

More specifically, the opposition parties are calling for a reinstatement of the cuts and an increase to the budget that was originally called for. Political parties as well as groups in affiliation with main political circles are scrutinizing the current government for arguing that substantive equality is not important. This is because under the guise of “equal opportunity” the Conservative agenda is setting a dangerous precedent.

The refusal to fund research, advocacy and lobbying means that problems that women face daily will not be addressed directly. Instead, this only ends up hurting the goal of equality for Canadian women. Destructive political agendas need to be stopped. Let’s not let equality slip through the cracks, but, instead, let us put pressure on the government to reverse its bad policy decisions.

Read on to see what Canadian MPs are saying in defense of women in this country!

"Mr. Speaker, unfortunately the minister has no credibility because the truth is all provincial ministers for the Status of Women are meeting in Toronto today. They did not invite the federal minister because she has shown no interest in working with them. She has complete disregard for the Status of Women. She slashed the budget, closed 12 regional offices and changed the mandate making it impossible to promote women's equality. Will the minister just admit that she is not up to the job and step down before she does more harm to women's rights?"
- Irene Mathyssen, MP (2007/2/1)

"In a society where women continue to be marginalized within key political, social and legal institutions, and I point out that less than one in five members of Parliament are women, it is essential to promote the realization of women’ human rights such as equality before the law, the right to an adequate standard of living, life and security and the same access to economic opportunities as men, in other words, equality. By equality, I mean real equality, not some abstract concept of law."
- Yasmin Ratansi, MP (2007/3/28)

"Mr Speaker, across Canada women are protesting the ideological cuts of the government and the removal of equality provisions… The minister has carried out the single largest attack on women’s services in the history of this country. Does the minister not understand her job is to defend women, not to attack them?"
- Hon. Maria Minna, MP (2006/12/12)


Samantha Hendrickson is a volunteer for NAWL, completing her BA in Women’s Studies at Carleton University.