2021 Federal Elections: Men in the Election Campaign

Oh what a choice to be a woman

With only a few days to go to the end of this particularly sad campaign, it is worth taking a moment to appreciate how we men, who still form a dominant majority both in the political class and in the media, have managed to say many things. nice and live up to it. very few of them.

From the guy vying to remain Prime Minister, who stood by his man’s side despite four misconduct allegations, and left him too late, only after a fifth woman came forward.

To the leader of the party who will never be prime minister, who was accused of sexual misconduct and who has gone through this election without ever having to answer.

Or the leader of the party who will probably not be prime minister, at least not this time, who had to defend himself against attacks from both his own party and the aforementioned leader who feels personally a victim of the term “systemic racism”.

In that sense, consider the women of Quebec, who have once again found themselves speaking, but not speaking, in a debate about their rights.

Throughout this campaign, when issues faced by women were raised, most of the time they were not a stick for the Feminist Prime Minister ™ to assault her allegedly awake competitor.

In all, this election should be pretty clear evidence that despite all the progress toward real gender equality this country has made, wow, do we ever have a way to go?

Don’t let some accusations get in the way of a good process.

We learned in the last few weeks, thanks to CBC’s Ashley burke and The record‘s Luisa D’Amato, that the Kitchener Center deputy, Raj Saini, was the subject of accusations from four different women. They accused him of unwanted touching, workplace harassment and sexual advances at a Parliament Hill Christmas party.

And yet, faced with these accusations in the electoral campaign, the Liberal Party said that in three of the cases “it had no antecedents or knowledge of the matter,” according to CBC. The fourth, Trudeau himself said, was investigated under a “rigorous process.”

But under that process, the woman who brought the accusation says she was not interviewed.

Conservative candidate Melissa Lantsman said it was just another example of Trudeau “covering up the misconduct of his candidates.” NDP candidate Lindsay Mathyssen echoed Tammy Wynette: “Justin Trudeau did what he has done so many times before: he supported his man.”

Apparently, five is the magic number, because when another woman came forward – making a nonspecific accusation – Saini did not receive the backing of the Liberal Party.

However, Saini’s name will remain on the ballot as the Liberal candidate for Kitchener-Center. Which is quite insulting to the two women who are still technically running against the man.

“For many people on my team, that week [before Saini dropped out] It was very, very difficult, ”says Beisan Zubi, NDP candidate for Kitchener-Center. (Full disclosure: Zubi is a longtime friend, met when she was a Parliament Hill staff member and I was in the Parliamentary Press Gallery.)

Politics can be unwelcoming to female candidates anyway: spammy comments, creepy invitations knocking on the door, constant comments about their appearance.

But having to run against such bad behavior is something else.

“He got better once he retired,” admits Zubi. (Conservative Mary Henein Thorn is also running for the seat. The Conservative Party did not respond to my media request to speak to her or obtain a statement.)

It is particularly irritating to Zubi, who wrote a biting piece in 2017 titled: “Here’s why I never reported sexual harassment while working at Parliament Hill.” He was even asked to testify before a House of Commons committee on Trudeau’s plan for a new process to handle complaints in Parliament.

“I’d risk guessing that it doesn’t do much to protect people in many of these situations,” Zubi told the committee. “In fact, the responsibility to report lies with the victim. They have to work within the infrastructure of their own party and go to the whips. “

That pretty much sums up the farce of Saini’s investigation.

“They built the process so that it was not welcoming to the victims,” Zubi told me this week. Watching Trudeau defend that process, and Saini, was “so obtuse,” he said. “It was the exact opposite of what he had said he would do.”

Trudeau also supported Marwan Tabbara, who faced allegations of sexual misconduct and was approved to run in 2019 independently. (Tabbara was arrested in 2020 and now faces charges of assault and criminal harassment.) He supported Kent Hehr, who faced multiple accusations of inappropriate sexual behavior. And this stems from months of accusations that Trudeau and his cabinet are woefully mishandling a bullying culture in the military force.

Believe me

There was a curious moment during the TVA debate, in early September.

During a debate on sexual harassment in the Canadian Armed Forces and the broader #MeToo movement, moderator Pierre Bruneau asked Bloc Quebecois leader Yves-François Blanchet if the “parallel system of justice” emerging from social media it was cause for concern.

In a series of encouraging responses – we need to promote clarity and accommodation for women who experience harassment and assault, she said, particularly in the justice system – she made an odd comment.

Women who do not have a “feeling of clarity” in the judicial system has led to “a form of retribution that is occurring, mainly on social media, that can do, believe me, real damage to personal life.”

After the debate I asked Blanchet: What did you mean, trust me?

He didn’t answer directly, but then again, I already knew the answer: Blanchet faced allegations of sexual assault last year on an anonymous Facebook page, in the middle of a wave of accusations against powerful men and women in Quebec. The anonymous woman said Blanchet offered her cocaine, then touched and kissed her as she objected.

But it was not just an anonymous publication: The woman spoke to the Montreal Gazette and repeated the allegations, providing details of the evening to reporter Christopher Curtis. Blanchet “unequivocally” denied the allegations, challenged the woman to file a police report, and said he would stop commenting on the story altogether. And he did.

The story has not been heard since.

“Women’s problems”

This week, Neetu Garcha from Global News He sat with Trudeau to discuss a variety of topics.

In particular, Garcha asked whether Trudeau should abandon his title of “feminist,” given the number of women who have been expelled from his cabinet and party, and the number of men who have been allowed to stay.

Trudeau responded as expected. Direct to highlight your team. To the child care plan that you have made a central element of your campaign. Suggest that Erin O’Toole represents a threat to her right to choose.

Yet when Garcha asked Trudeau four times whether Quebec’s Bill 21, which prohibits religious minorities from wearing identifying symbols at work, was “discriminatory,” Trudeau was in less comfortable territory. Four times, he refused to speak.

Annoying, since the Superior Court of Quebec was quite clear about the effects of the law. “There is no doubt in this case that the denial, by Law 21, of the rights guaranteed by the Charter has serious consequences for the people affected.”

Not only are state employees “ostracized,” the court concluded, “indeed, some will see their dreams become impossible and others will be trapped in their roles without the ability to advance or move.”

The scathing decision continues: “Law 21 sends the message to students that minorities who wear religious symbols occupy a different place in society.”

In Trudeau’s defense, and as he rightly pointed out, he is the only party leader who is willing to challenge the law in court. That is tragic in its own right. Yet Trudeau, Blanchet and O’Toole lined up to admonish the debate for daring to label a discriminatory law as discriminatory.

Yet when Shachi Kurl dared to use that word, “discriminatory”, on stage and in the debate of English-language leaders: she was vilified.

Blanchet called Kurl’s question a “flurry of insults” in which Quebecers were called “racists and xenophobes.” On Wednesday, both Trudeau and O’Toole demanded that the debate announcers apologize for daring to insult the law and the fragile ego of Prime Minister Francois Legault.

After the debate, the Bloc leader explained that the bad woman who asks about the law that Quebec’s own judicial system says is discriminatory (but legal, only because of the clause nonetheless) is evidence that they require a man like Blanchet. “If Quebecers needed a guard dog before, now they need it dangerously.”

Kurl wasn’t the only woman who caught Blanchet’s ire. Similarly, he lashed out at Paul for his insistence that the bloc leader acknowledge the realities of systemic racism in Canada and Quebec. Paul hasn’t had a great choice anyway; she was on the verge of being expelled from her party, less than a year after being elected by the members.

After the debate, I asked Paul, to paraphrase myself: Isn’t that bullshit?

“I just pointed out that if he’s interested in learning more about the experience of people like me or those who have said very clearly that there is systemic discrimination,” Paul began, noting that ‘systemic’ practically means that he is much larger than the nation. from Quebec: “I once again extend my hand in friendship and understanding to him.”

Good luck befriending the watchdog.

All men running should have to explain their outrageous position to Amrit Kaur, the Sikh woman who defies the law: the woman who had to resume her life and move from Quebec to British Columbia in order to do her job. To teach.

“That feeling of racism, being deprived of your rights, you can hear, but when you feel it in yourself, there is a sadness that you cannot describe,” he said. told my colleague Stephen Maher in 2019. “That feeling, I don’t wish it on anyone.”

43 percent is not enough

For years, we’ve had a group of male leaders who insist that achieving the goals of feminism is, at least in part, a man’s job.

And maybe we need to find new applicants for that job.

The House of Commons is only 30% female. According to Equal Voice, only 43 percent of candidates are female or gender diverse, just one point more than in 2019.

Of the major parties, only the NDP has more female candidates than men; the other parties, as they have for more than a century, are featuring more men than women.

A welcome change, however, is a handful of transgender and non-binary candidates running. Conservative Hannah hudson It is running in Victoria. Green Nicki ward It is running in York South – Weston.

But it seems almost certain that Parliament will look the same as when MPs left it this summer: overwhelmingly masculine and uniformly cisgender.


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