Women’s History Month & Persons Day

Ms. Catherine Fife: It’s a pleasure for me to respond on Women’s History Month and Persons Day on behalf of my colleague the member from London West, who is in committee for her piece of legislation for protecting interns; ironically, many of whom are women and many of whom need protection in the province of Ontario.

I’ve had the pleasure in the last 24 hours to attend the Equal Voice event last night, hosted in Toronto, where we honoured the three women who ran the national campaigns in this country, Katie Telford, Jenni Byrne and Anne McGrath, who all ran those federal campaigns. It was a nonpartisan event, and we acknowledged that this was the first time in the history of this country where women played a national role in organizing those elections. Farah Mohamed was the keynote speaker and she talked about creating opportunities and supporting women on boards, in their communities and through education to ensure that they reach their potential—so very inspirational.

Then, of course, this morning, I also joined the minister at the LEAF national breakfast where we heard the legal battles that are happening in this country, which, quite honestly, was a huge eye-opener for me. It doesn’t seem to get any better, quite honestly, when you realize the role that the LEAF National had to play in the Alberta case where the judge, Judge Camp, asked a young 19-year-old aboriginal women who was homeless at the time and who had been sexually assaulted why she did not keep her knees closed. This happens. These are words and language used in our courts. Obviously, there’s a huge challenge, as it should be. This is the kind of discrimination and misogyny that still happens in this province, in this country and in places where there should be justice.

This morning, of course, Margaret Atwood was the keynote speaker. She referenced how bad it could get. One only has to look to the United States. She—we’re not referencing the big guy in that presidential heap. We’re now calling him “He who shall not be named.” We don’t want to give him any power because it’s already gone to his head. We’ve also never had a presidential candidate encourage the assassination of another candidate in a national election like that.

So while we can celebrate the progress that we have made, we have to remember we hold on to gender equality very tenuously. We must celebrate it, but we must almost also continue to fight for it each and every day.