Share

Woman addresses gender gap issue to Commons committee — of all men

When Jenny Wright addressed the Federal Standing Committee on Finance recently in Charlottetown, she was addressing a group of men.

That surprised Wright, the executive director of the St. John’s Status of Women Council, who was there to talk about economic equality for women.

None of the men took the opportunity afterward to ask questions or further the discussion, she said.

“That was disheartening for me,” she said, “and I think that probably wouldn’t have happened had there been women on that committee.”

Malpeque MP Wayne Easter, the chair of the committee, said there used to be two women on the committee until Lisa Raitt stepped down. The other woman, Jennifer O’Connell, is still on the committee, but wasn’t in Charlottetown because she was at a global conference on finance.

‘You can’t have 50 per cent women on all committees under the current situation or they’d all be dead on their feet because of fatigue.’
– P.E.I. MP Wayne Easter

Easter said the meeting was about pre-budget consultations, and gender gap was just one of the topics that was covered.

“To make it sound like the committee was looking at that issue and there was no women present, I do think is unfair,” he told CBC’s Island Morning.

“On the other side of the coin, I think it is very important for men on the committee to listen to what she had to say because she had some very valid points.”

Easter said it’s difficult to have an equal number of men and women on committees, because there are more men than women in parliament.

‘Electorate gives us the balance of MPs’

“It’s the electorate that gives us the balance of MPs,” he said. “Yes it’s 2016, but you can’t have 50 per cent women on all committees under the current situation or they’d all be dead on their feet because of fatigue. It’s be an impossible job for them to do, because there’s too many committees and wouldn’t be enough bodies.”

But Wright said that’s not good enough, and that it felt like Easter was “on the defensive” instead of “recognizing how problematic it could be that a powerful committee such as the finance committee did not have any women on it.”

Wayne Easter, MP for Malpeque

Malpeque MP Wayne Easter says it’s impossible to have 50 per cent women on all committees under the current situation because “they’d all be dead on their feet because of fatigue.”

“It’s not enough to say, oh we have a terrible state within Canada where our representation of women is sitting somewhere between 27 and 29 per cent,” she said.

“People like him, the chairs of those committees, need to take responsibility and look around and say ‘Why isn’t there any women on these committees and what can we do to rectify that?'”

Wright said she has raised the issue in a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Article source: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-edward-island/pei-wayne-easter-jenny-wright-gender-parity-1.3814772?cmp=rss