AN ANTI-WOMAN RAMPAGE
Intentional or not, Prime Minister Stephen Harper delivered another bitchslap to Canadian women in the economic and fiscal update his finance minister, Jim Flaherty, delivered on Nov. 27.
Sure, he took swipes at political parties and unions and promised to sell off public assets, too. And he also attacked women’s right to equal pay for work of equal value within the federal civil service.
Harper apparently hates anything to do with equal rights for women. As a result, women don’t vote for him. Maybe that’s why instead of wooing us, he takes extreme measures to further punish us.
Just look what he’s done in the past: he smacked down a national child care plan, killed off the Court Challenges program, attacked women’s reproductive freedom by supporting Bill C-484, axed jobs at Status of Women Canada (SWC) and eliminated the word “equality” from its mandate, silenced advocacy groups, shut down community-based women’s organizations and stripped money from women’s agencies and programs.
And the list goes on.
Now, he spins a pay-out of “over $4 billion in pay equity settlements” as an extraneous expense for government? Hello? That’s money stolen from women! Women who performed work equivalent to men in the federal civil service were paid less simply because they were women. It’s money they earned. The Canadian Human Rights Commission said so in 1984. That was 24 years ago! In 1999, after 15 years of legal wrangling, the Federal Court of Canada agreed women had been short-changed and ordered the government to cough up.
Some women have died waiting for their fair share. But Harper’s revenge would see those payments slow down. And their right to pay equity subjected to contract negotiations.
And their right to strike eliminated.
Gilles Duceppe was the first to stand up to Harper, accusing him of using the economic crisis as an excuse to attack women’s rights. “[The government] has decided to attack women’s rights by submitting their right to pay equity to negotiation,” he said. “Since when are rights negotiable?”
Since when, indeed! Some women I know want Gilles as PM. Others, including the Ad Hoc Coalition for Women’s Equality and Human Rights, say that “the prospect of a coalition government means that things are definitely looking up for women.”
No kidding! What would be worse for women than another day of Stephen Harper as PM? /Bernadette Wagner
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