10 March 2007

If Harper Rights a Wrong, and Nobody Reports It, Did It Happen?

An interesting piece of information came my way on Thursday evening from a Conservative friend of mine. Thursday was, of course, International Women's Day and the Conservative government used the occasion to right quite possibly its greatest tactical error while in office: they restored the $5 million that had been cut from the budget of Status of Women Canada.

The full press release can be found here.

Says Bev Oda, the Minister for the Status of Women and also for Canadian Heritage: "Canada's New Government is proud to enhance the Women's Program in order to make a real difference in the lives of Canadian women facing challenges."

Also from the press release is the following information: The budget of the Women's Program has been increased by 42 percent, bringing it to its highest level ever of $15.3 million. As of April 1, 2007, the Women's Program will have two components: the Women's Community Fund and the Women's Partnership Fund. The Women's Community Fund will support projects at the local, regional and national level in order to enable the full participation of women in all aspects of Canadian life. The newly created Women's Partnership Fund is an enhancement to the existing grant program and will facilitate the engagement of eligible organizations and public institutions through joint projects designed to address issues pertaining to women.

What is most interesting about this maneuver is that the media has been relatively silent on it. This is all the more intriguing given the volume of press and anger that was expressed--from this quarter included, as seen here--when the initial cuts to SWC were made. I wonder, will Stephane Dion continue to use the rhetorical line about this government being anti-women, anti-equality, etc? Will those who refer to this government being the "most woman-hating government in history" (actual quote I read somewhere a few months ago...can't remember where, though) now rescind that comment because things are now at the status quo ante? Are the groups that protested the cuts now going to give the government its due for restoring the funding to a very valuable entity? Will the media report on the story and inform the people of new programs that may come into existence because of the restored funding and its new mechanisms?

Bear in mind, I'm not one for giving out cookies just because they've atoned, but I do give credit where credit is due. The silence from opponents of the original cuts, however, is pretty deafening right now.


Candace said...

If I recall correctly, it was ALWAYS the plan to use the funds saved by closing the extra offices around Canada to actually...help women. The reason the critics are quiet is because, once again, the gov't has done what it said it would do.

RGM said...

Fair enough point. If cutting out some of the bureaucracy means the creation of new women's shelters and other operations that help and advance the cause of women, that's a good thing.

As I was musing over at Cherniak's, I'm also thinking that the restoration of this $5M may be linked to some efficiency maximization within the department itself, sort of like a "cookie" for getting rid of some red tape and streamlining some important procedural issues. May just be idle speculation, though.

vicki said...

"Righting a Wrong" in your title implies that in your opinion it was wrong to originally cut funding to the SWC budget.
Is that correct?

RGM said...

Thanks for dropping by. Yes I do believe that it was a tactical error on Harper's part to cut the SWC funding. The reaction that it provoked from womens' groups was overwhelmingly negative and some of the comments that came from Conservative supporters did little to help matters. It wasn't the response that was the problem for me, however, so much as it was the implication that there were a lesser need to raise awareness on crucial matters of gender equality in this country.
As I said above, though, if those cuts turned out to be an impetus to get SWC to operate more efficiently with the promise of getting the funding eventually restored to be utilized for actual program implementation to help with the status of women, it may turn out to be a greater good in the long-term. This may also explain much of the silence from the Liberals and other initial critics of the cuts now that the additional funding has been promised, as it removes from their "argument" the notion that Harper's government is somehow "anti-women."

vicki said...

Thanks for responding.I guess we would disagree on the idea that women need finacial propping from the government to be successful, equality implied. I see many successful women , who are 'there' by choice,ability and determination...the characteristics that would describe a successful man. The Status of women programs used the term gender equality to play the victim card. Their policies did not treat women equally.
As a fiscal conservative I would like to see less propping up of advocacy and special interest groups. I hope that is the principle behind this shifting of allotment in the budget.