It will come as a surprise to many that a person whose defining political perspective is one of foreign policy hawk--way more hawkish than Harper--who has a set of views that tend more towards the individualist than the collectivist, and has disagreed with his former party more often in the past year than he has agreed with it is nonetheless finding himself more in agreement with said party than its main competitor. The issue causing this shift and glance back over the shoulder is not foreign affairs, it is not child care, it is not same-sex marriage, it is not the environment...it is the status of Status of Women Canada.
I have seen a number of vicious attacks on SWC from conservatives and Conservatives, many of which truly are as "mean-spirited" as has been made out by the Liberals and many in the media. Given the emergence of women's issues in my political thinking as a top two priority in the past year, I have a very hard time wanting to associate with people who can be so vindictive and gloating regarding what is happening to that agency. When I see people declaring the SWC irrelevant (this issue really has been festering for a long time now), I always come to the same question: do these people even read SWC reports? Because, personally, and I'm a guy that's gotten pretty far academically based on his ability to read and utilize information, I believe that anybody who reads these reports and digests their messages cannot come to the conclusion that the work of SWC is irrelevant or outdated.
When the women of a generation ago demanded equality, they didn't come to an accord that 71 cents on the dollar for similar work or 21% of the seats in Parliament constituted equality. They sure as hell didn't agree that if 2 out of 3 women would make it through life without being physically abused by a man, that would be an acceptable definition of equal. The suggestions from many on the right that it's a "post-feminist world" are dangerously misleading, because the implication is that the objectives of feminism have been achieved. They have not. If it were true, would the women be angry?
This issue is one that is truly important in Canadian society, so important that it is pulling me closer to the Liberals than I have been at any point in the past year. It is overriding Carolyn Bennett's comment about children going to jail if they don't receive state-run daycare, it is overriding Ignatieff's guffaws on Quebec nationalism and Qana, it is overriding the softness of the Liberal position on Afghanistan. It truly is that important to me. We're talking about the status of 53% of Canada's population and how they fit within society. Are they equals? Do they deserve the same compensation for work as their male counterparts? Should we be doing more to curb violence against them? Yes, yes, and yes. Obviously, the existence of SWC is not enough to achieve these objectives, but they raise attention on a higher level with better access to government than any other organization. If nobody knows there is a significant problem, nobody will do anything about it. SWC informs people about real problems; it is not "Liberal propaganda" when an SWC report highlights that 87% of all domestic violence targets women or that women in aboriginal communities are treated horrifically poorly.
For months now I've been arguing that Harper is making a huge mistake with his handling of the SWC file. More and more voices are coming together against him. The first Question Period question that Stephane Dion asked as Leader of the Liberal Party was about SWC. One cannot take steps that will alienate a significant portion of the majority demographic in this country--and their male supporters--and expect to escape without losing some support. As this issue drags on, I find myself leaning further away from the Tories and closer to my former party. At what point does it go from leaning to outright standing with them?