Braid: Panicky UCP withdraws award for essay urging more babies, fewer ‘foreigners’

Yes, this women’s minister gave an award to a woman who says women shouldn’t be in men’s jobs


On first reading, the essay that won a $200 prize from the UCP government sounds like a sick joke.

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Really, how could a government that claims to support women in the workplace give an award to bigoted nonsense like this?

“Trying to promote women into careers that are traditionally dominated by men is not only wrong, it is harmful.”

According to the unidentified young woman who was ranked third for female MLAs at the UCP caucus, “such an approach detracts from the languishing unique strength and truly important role that women have in preserving our community, culture and species. ”.

And there’s this gasp, a clear echo of the racial replacement theory so common in white supremacist circles:

“While it is sadly popular today to think that the world would be better off without humans, or that Alberta children are unnecessary since we can import foreigners to replace ourselves, this is a sick mindset that amounts to attempted cultural suicide.”

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The author goes on to say that there should be cash prizes for women who have “two or more children.”

This is not a selection of quotes from the essay. The whole thing is like that. It implies that the only value of women is their ability to reproduce.

The Social Credit newsletters of the 1930s, with a special Queen Bee section for girls in an age of eugenics and vicious anti-Semitism, were not so obvious.

The prize for this essay was awarded by Jackie Armstrong-Homeniuk, the associate minister for the status of women.

Yes, this women’s minister gave an award to a woman who says women shouldn’t be in men’s jobs.

It followed a competition through the Commonwealth Association of Women Parliamentarians, of which she is the president of Alberta.

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Armstrong-Homeniuk did not apologize at first. Instead, she said that while the essay “certainly does not represent the views of all women, including mine, the essay in question should not have been chosen.”

She went on to advocate “giving women of all ages a voice”, thus appearing to agree that all such views deserve a voice, but not an award.

But then Armstrong-Homeniuk was greeted by a host of alarmed ministers and caucus members. In an updated statement, he said: “You have raised concerns with me about how such an essay could be selected for an award.

“As Minister for the Status of Women, I want to emphasize that I do not support rhetoric that in any way diminishes the importance and contributions of more than half of Alberta’s population.

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“It was clear that the process failed and I apologized for my role in that. Selecting this particular essay and awarding it third prize was a failure on my part as chairman of the judging panel.”

That apology is also the closest thing to admitting that the judges actually read the essay and thought it was good for an award.

Prime Minister Jason Kenney’s office said Wednesday afternoon that the minister will not be kicked out of the cabinet for this.

Jackie Armstrong-Homeniuk, an MLA from Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville, was appointed Associate Minister for the Status of Women in June by Prime Minister Jason Kenney (right).
Jackie Armstrong-Homeniuk, an MLA from Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville, was appointed Associate Minister for the Status of Women in June by Prime Minister Jason Kenney (right). Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta

NDP children’s services critic Rakhi Pancholi called the essay “misogynistic, sexist, transphobic, racist and fascist.” The language “sends a terrible message to young women in this province.”

UCP leadership candidate Leela Aheer, who was ousted as minister after criticizing Kenney, also thought the essay was a joke at first.

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“It was hard to believe this was serious,” he said, but if something like this had slipped his mind, “I would severely question my own ability to do the job.”

Candidate Danielle Smith was less direct. Noting that the minister has apologized, she said: “Our girls and young women need to know that in this province they can aspire and rise to any role, career or position they choose. . . Alberta welcomes everyone, regardless of their background.”

A third female leadership candidate, Rebecca Schulz, said: “It’s a shame that an essay that says women are not equal to men has won a government-sponsored award.”

Legislature Speaker Nathan Cooper said he was surprised when he realized the essay was on the assembly’s website.

Calling it “abhorrent”, he ordered that anything related to the essay contest be removed from the site immediately.

All that remains is an error notice and questions about what some people in this government really believe.

Don Braid’s column appears regularly in the Herald.

Twitter: @DonBraid

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