Thursday June 26, 2014
By Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday June 26, 2014
Mother’s and Father’s Day emails from justice minister praise mothers as caregivers, fathers as role models
Justice Minister Peter MacKay has raised eyebrows once again over what some consider old-fashioned and patronizing attitudes toward women.
CBC News has obtained two emails MacKay sent to his staff, one marking Mother’s Day and the other Father’s Day.
The Mother’s Day email congratulates “colleagues” who have “two full-time jobs: as hardworking department of justice employees during business hours, and as dedicated moms and caregivers around the clock.”
Especially as he is now the father of an active toddler, MacKay wrote, he could understand, “By the time many of you have arrived at the office in the morning, you’ve already changed diapers, packed lunches, run after school buses, dropped kids off at daycare, taken care of an aging loved one and maybe even thought about dinner.”
The Father’s Day email had a different tone. In the message, MacKay praises male staff who are “dedicated fathers” and lauds them for “shaping the minds and futures of the next generation of leaders.” The words “mould,” “teach” and “guide” were employed to illustrate fathers’ influence on their children.
The emails were sent to CBC News by two employees of the Justice Department.
Erin Rizok, a lawyer with the Ontario provincial government who is currently on maternity leave with her second child, called the emails “fairly ridiculous” when she read copies of them.
To Rizok, the emails suggest that “only men are responsible for shaping the lives of our children and only women are responsible for the home.”
“I just think that Peter MacKay is completely out of touch with what women want to do generally,” she said.
In an interview in Toronto’s Monarch Park, she said, “In my house, me and my husband have not two jobs, we have dozens of jobs. We share everything in our house fairly equally.”
The emails surfaced in the wake of a Toronto Star story last week that quoted women who’d been at a meeting of the council of the Ontario Bar Association with MacKay. The article said that MacKay, when asked why there was a dearth of women and minority judges on federally appointed courts, said women just aren’t applying to be judges.
MacKay is said to have suggested that women might be reluctant to go for the jobs, because they had young children at home and worried about the extensive travel new judges often have to undertake visiting different regional courts.
He was reported as saying that women have a special bond with their children. (Source: CBC News)