When Peter MacKay offered the comment to a group of lawyers last week that Canada has few female judges, the follow-up explanation wasn’t all that alarming.
The federal justice minister, also Central Nova MP, said women weren’t applying for such positions because in many cases they are raising families, making them less likely to want to be travelling the circuit court.
That’s more so an observation, not an attitude about who should be a judge.
Still it was fodder for critics claiming it displayed gender bias. A good response would be to avoid sounding overly defensive.
But it doesn’t stop there. This week, emails recently sent to his department staff and obtained by The Canadian Press show a different take on moms and dads that is raising eyebrows.
The emails marking Mother’s Day paid tribute to those women who, before they arrive at the office, had already changed diapers, packed lunches, run after school buses and that kind of thing.
The second message, sent a bit more than a month later offering best wishes on Father’s Day, highlighted a far different set of virtues for the dads in children’s lives. The dedicated fathers shape the minds and futures of the next generation of leaders. “Our words, actions and examples greatly mould who they will become.”
An awful lot of parents will be mystified. Mothers surely offer the advice, guidance and wisdom to encourage their children to become leaders, to benefit them throughout life.
Likewise, plenty of dads pitch in to change diapers, cook the supper and clean the house. They, too, might like the acknowledgement that roles in the household, thankfully, aren’t as entrenched as they might have been a couple of generations ago.
People’s thoughts on such gender issues will range all over the map. But if indeed a person is in a leadership role, it’s best not to reflect any such gender bias, and it’s especially a good idea not to display it in writing. It’s bound to catch up with you.