Saturday, November 14, 2009

Jason Kenney and the Conservatives Remove Women From Canadian History

Jason Kenney's new handbook for immigrants was released yesterday, and not that we should really be surprised, but it almost completely removed the notion that women made any contributions to this country.

Historian Margaret Conrad said of the new guide, that it “represents a new kind of Canada, one that is less sympathetic with my personal sense of a progressive, forward-looking nation, but the new slant is no doubt in keeping with the sentiments of the current administration in Ottawa.”

She said she was surprised that the environment, given two pages in the previous guide, disappeared in the new document. The emphasis on the Queen and the Canadian Forces also struck her as unusual. “It's kind of like a throwback to the 1950s,” she said. “It's a tough, manly country with military and sports heroes that are all men. “It's a tougher Canada than the one the Liberals depicted.”

In its photos and illustrations, the new guide paints a picture of a multicultural country, but it offers very little discussion of the accomplishments of Canadian women, Prof. Conrad said. None of the great Canadian thinkers highlighted is a woman, and the only female athlete mentioned is Paralympic medal winner Chantal Petitclerc.

One of the reader comments at the end of the Globe and Mail piece was also disturbing. I suspect other macho types will feel validated with this booklet and I would imagine comments like this will be more common now. I'm used to hearing them, growing up in the '60's. I just hadn't heard them in awhile:

"Maybe Margaret Conrad needs to realize that it was men who built this country, and are still building it. Are you reading this, Maggie? You haven't contributed nearly enough. Shut yer trap."

Shut our traps? The new slogan for the Status of Women now that the word 'equality' was removed from their mandate. Left-Wing fringe groups. That's what we are now. Women have been marginalized with this new government. We weren't important in Canadian history and we aren't important now. REAL Women of Canada have won. The Promise Keepers have won. William Gairdner has won. And we let them because we have given up the fight.

Helena Guergis who's in charge of the Status for Women recently cited "the hypersexualization of girls as a root cause of dating violence." We shrugged. Welcome to the new Canada.

Maybe this generation of young women, after getting a taste of what it was like for us, will finally understand. Or not. It doesn't matter.

When Michael Ignatieff unveiled the Liberals Party's 3rd volume of the pink book, the media scoffed. Diane Francis wrote a scathing column, which I didn't have the stomach to read.

Ms Francis of course won the National Citizens Coalition Colin Brown medal of freedom. Now bear in mind freedom means freedom from government, or to be more specific; freedom from anything with 'Canadian' or 'public' in it's title. Ms Francis is the head of the Reform Conservatives PR firm, the National Post.

Do you see what we're up against?

There were three letters to the editor after this story was printed:

Those Mad Men of Ottawa, the Harper Conservatives, would like to take us back to the 1950s when men were tough, the Maple Leafs won games and everyone loved the Queen. I was a boy back then and do not recall anyone suggesting that a career in the army would be a fine choice.

Despite our new military vigour, it is hard to imagine that immigrants will flock to Canada to become soldiers in Her Majesty’s Armed Forces. Given the general indifference to the recent royal tour, there is little chance there will be a renaissance of affection for the monarchy, as immigrants replace births as the main source of our population growth.

King Canute, who died on Nov. 12, 1035, was famous for proving to his fawning supporters that he was not all-powerful by showing that he could not turn back the tide. Centuries later, people in power still have not learned this lesson.

Jim Reynolds, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont.
Since when does any particular political party get to decide what is Canadian? Can we now expect our national culture to change every time a new party is elected? This would mean that, with every new election, those who supported the losing parties and their values would become un-Canadian.

A nation’s culture is the result of a decision made by the people. The Tories’ belief that they have the ability to determine the “real” Canada shows a profound lack of humility.

Sascha Maicher, Ottawa
Now that I’m nearing retirement age, I’m glad to learn it’s no longer necessary for new Canadians to understand the need to protect Canada’s environment. Has my life’s work paid off?

John Bennett, executive director, Sierra Club Canada Foundation, Ottawa

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