Dr. Dawg

Paul Dewar: Equality is a Canadian value

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NDP leadership contender Paul Dewar is in trouble with Conservatives again. He must be doing something right.

22.124.7%* of the House of Commons are women, more or less the situation since 1997. Paul has just unveiled a policy piece proposing a practical plan to improve the representation of women in the House of Commons.

Here it is, summed up by the National Post’s Kelly McParland:

Mr. Dewar says that, if elected to head a Dewar government, he’d bring back the $2 per vote subsidy for federal parties, but only for parties that nominate an acceptable number of women candidates. You’d get the full $2 if 50% or more of candidates are women, $1.75 for 40-49%, $1.50 if you beat 30%, and zippo if you nominate less than 30%. The 30% cutoff was chosen because apparently the UN says you need that many woman for a “critical mass.”

Horrors!

McParland’s considered intellectual response:

Is this the dumbest NDP idea ever, or just the most recent?

Yup, encouraging more participation by women in politics, to a Conservative, is just plain dumb. If they wanted to, the wimminfolks would be in the House already, he says. They must be choosing to be underrepresented.

Besides, says McParland, if you don’t solve all the problems simultaneously for other underrepresented groups, then you’re declaring an “offensive war on colour, creed and physical ability.”

Say what? Since when is pushing for equality a zero-sum game? If I fight for A when B is oppressed too, that means I’m fighting against B?

Conservative logic. An oxymoron.

Then it’s “OMG, quotas!” The q-word is a favourite conservative instrument of torture. Any conceivable attempt to resolve historical inequity evokes it as a conversation-stopper.

But Paul isn’t talking about anything other than an incentive to be fair. The whole thing is entirely voluntary. If you want a chunk of federal tax dollars for your party, then encourage women to get involved. Call it enforcing a national standard.

McParland ploughs on, however:

It doesn’t matter if they’re the best qualified, since Mr. Dewar has made no suggestion that women MPs should be the best qualified. All that’s important to Mr. Dewar’s proposal is their sex.

Is he seriously suggesting that, in a fully open, participatory process, statistics would not favour a more or less 50-50 gender split of the best qualified?

Well, yes, unfortunately that’s indeed what he’s suggesting. See, women don’t want to worry their pretty heads about what’s going on in our national legislature. It’s really a boys’ sandbox of little consequence:

His plan also overlooks the possibility that women are a minority in Parliament because many women simply are not interested in wasting their time or careers on the childish antics for which the Commons is so well known.

And McParland has the nerve to accuse Paul of being condescending! He keep right on digging:

Ottawa is regularly denounced as a place in which a small coterie of powerful people hold all the strings, while ordinary MPs while away their time obeying orders and mouthing the official line. Maybe men are willing to put up with this, and get a kick out of the kindergarten atmosphere, but that doesn’t mean women have to share their enthusiasm. [emphasis added]

Heavens, no. Let them wield their awesome power in the kitchens of this great land.

Good on you, Paul, for your practical approach to the problem. A Parliament composed mostly of men is a living fossil in the 21st century: no wonder you’ve got the dinosaurs howling.

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* H/t commenter Peter1. Seven more women were elected to the present Parliament than to the previous one, a modest 2.6% increase.

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This page contains a single entry by Dr. Dawg published on December 8, 2011 1:23 PM.

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