‘O Lady of virtue, thou alone through whom the human race exceedeth all contained within the heaven that has the lesser circles, so grateful unto me is thy commandment, to obey, if ’twere already done, were late; no farther need’st thou ope to me thy wish. ―Dante Alighieri, Inferno

They bribed breeding Canadians with a retroactive and taxable child benefit payment around the time the election was called. This time? It looks like the Conservatives must be hoping women just don’t think too hard about the way they’ve run things in the last four years.

According to (what’s left of) Statistics Canada, a woman working full time in Canada can expect to earn 20 per cent less than a man in the same field. This number is greater for Indigenous and immigrant women. University-educated women in the public sector earn $0.82 for every dollar earned by a university-educated male employee in Canada. Data from 2004 show that a decade ago, those University-educated women in the public sector earned $0.89 for every dollar their male counterparts earned and in 2006, Indigenous women earned 54 per cent less than men.

Why are we going backwards?

Ah yes. Rather than attempt to address this wage disparity, the Harper government decreased the budget for the Status of Women Canada by more than 35 per cent. The Conservative government aborted the fledgling National Child Care Program and replaced it with a taxable allowance for children under the age of six (“beer and popcorn money”) of $100/month. Since the average costs for full-time daycare for preschool children in the past decade has risen from around $500/month to more than $700/month, that money hasn’t gone very far. Nor does this wasteful policy address Canada’s very real wage gap between men and women.

Those cuts to Status of Women, by the way, meant that more than a dozen offices and crisis centres across the country had to close. The Native Women’s Association of Canada has had its troubles with the Conservative government and it’s no secret that Stephen Harper doesn’t seem very interested in providing justice for what many refer to as a human rights crisis — missing and murdered Aboriginal women.

Of course, there is the income-splitting ballyhoo that “the majority of Canadians” will benefit from. In this case, “majority” seems to mean two-parent families earning more than $140,000 collectively.

It’s about as much a “majority” as the “majority” that voted for the Conservatives in the last election, which Harper won with 39 per cent of the vote.

Maybe the Conservatives have a casual disdain for women. Maybe they don’t care about gender and they just want all of this ‘equal rights business’ to just go away. In the last election, the Conservatives ran 68 female candidates out of 307. This time around it’s worse; only 64 of 329 candidates are women (compared with 140/329 NDP candidates, 106/328 Liberal Party candidates, and 60/174 Green Party candidates).

Maybe the reason Stephen Harper’s Conservatives are shutting women out of politics is because women won’t run for office for them?

Canto 3: The Environment