An Act to amend the Financial Administration Act (balanced representation)


Sheila Malcolmson  NDP

Introduced as a private member’s bill. (These don’t often become law.)


Introduced, as of Feb. 16, 2016

Subscribe to a feed (what's a feed?) of speeches and votes in the House related to Bill C-220.


This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment amends the Financial Administration Act to achieve balanced representation in the number of women and men serving as directors on boards of parent Crown corporations by establishing the minimum proportion of each sex on those boards.


All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Status of WomenStatements By Members

June 7th, 2017 / 2:20 p.m.
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Sheila Malcolmson NDP Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

Mr. Speaker, because almost half of Canadian companies have no women on their boards, zero, Canadian women expected our self-proclaimed feminist Prime Minister to turn words into action. However, Liberals are using the failed, discredited comply and explain model of the Conservative Party in Bill C-25. The government should adopt my legislation, Bill C-220, to get gender balance.

Quebec legislated quotas, and in five years reached parity on crown boards. The same success came with legislation in France, Norway, Finland, Iceland, and Sweden.

Without quotas, Canadian women will wait 72 years for equity. As Caroline Codsi from La Gouvernance au Féminin said, “When we legislate, we find women. When we do not legislate, we find excuses.”

Let us no more excuses. It is time for the government to act on women's equality.

May 30th, 2017 / 10:20 a.m.
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Sheila Malcolmson NDP Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

Thank you.

Ms. Byers, at our last committee meeting, we had testimony from Professor Beatrix Dart from the University of Toronto, who was talking about quotas being the shock to the system that is really needed and who said that the comply or explain model, which has been used both in corporate Canada and the Government of Canada, just hasn't worked.

We've been discouraged to see the present government carrying on the previous government's tool of that comply or explain model in their Bill C-25. I have a private member's bill, Bill C-220, which instead suggests quotas around crown corporation appointments and what the federal government has direct responsibility for in order to reach gender parity of 50% over a six-year term.

Because you introduced it in your brief to the committee, can you talk a little more about your recommendation to impose quotas and the value of the quota model from the industry you're representing?

Canada Business Corporations ActGovernment Orders

December 9th, 2016 / 10:40 a.m.
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François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Hochelaga for her question. The work that she is doing on gender equality is very important, just as the work she is doing on social housing is essential to ensuring that everyone has fair access to housing.

Getting back to pay equity, sometimes I tell my constituents that the federal government still does not have any pay equity legislation. People are surprised. They do not think that makes any sense. The people of my riding have signed a number of petitions for me to present in the House of Commons. They believe that we need a law now, not 10 years from now. We are supposed to be more proactive than that. We were elected to take action.

I would like to again mention my colleague from Nanaimo—Ladysmith. She introduced Bill C-220, which seeks to amend the Financial Administration Act. The purpose of the bill is to achieve balanced representation in the number of women and men serving as directors on boards of crown corporations. The goal is to proceed gradually but quickly. It is not right that the number of women on these boards is still so low in a society where the percentage of women is higher than that of men.

I would like to again thank the member for Hochelaga for her question. We have to do more to achieve gender equality. We cannot wait until 2018. That is unacceptable.

Canada Business Corporations ActGovernment Orders

December 9th, 2016 / 10:15 a.m.
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François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to take part in the debate on Bill C-25, an act to amend the Canada Business Corporations Act, the Canada Cooperatives Act, the Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act, and the Competition Act.

It is always very important to review our laws in order to improve them, and to ensure that we make them even more fair and that they will foster gender parity. This bill is a first step in the right direction.

The NDP will support enhancing the diversity of boards of directors and democracy for shareholders.

However, once again the Liberals are not walking the talk. Bill C-25 is an attempt to solve the problems of gender parity. That will not happen if we only do what is being proposed. We are going to have to do more, and I know that the NDP member who sits on this committee will make the amendments needed to improve gender-parity in this area. That is what we are proposing.

This is only the second time in 40 years that the Canadian government has looked at corporate governance issues. As I said, this is no small matter, and it is good to review these things once in a while, so this is a step in the right direction.

The government's stated objective in introducing this legislation was this: the bill proposes changes meant to increase shareholder democracy and participation, support efforts to increase women's participation on corporate boards and senior management, and improve corporate transparency and business certainty while reducing the regulatory burden.

As I was saying, generally speaking, in its current form, the bill will increase shareholders' democratic participation in order to ensure greater understanding and, for instance, require annual elections for corporate directors, ensure that shareholders can vote for individual candidates, and require a majority voting standard, which are all interesting reforms. This is all through the lens of increasing representation of women on corporate boards and in senior management.

This might improve because businesses will have to explain why they do not have any female representation on their boards. That is a step in the right direction. However, everyone will agree that it is just a small step in improving gender equality.

Hundreds of people from Drummond have come to see me to request federal pay equity legislation. Unfortunately, as we know, the Liberal government said that it might wait until 2018 before implementing such a law, when pay equity should already be a fait accompli in Canada.

However, that is not yet the case, and unfortunately, the Liberals have put off their commitment to gender equality. That is coming from a government whose Prime Minister claims to be a feminist. It is not enough for the Prime Minister to claim to be a feminist. He and his government also need to take action to show that they are actually committed to gender equality. People have been disappointed in that regard.

This issue is so important that the NPD introduced Bill C-220, an act to amend the Financial Administration Act (balanced representation). The bill's sponsor is the member for Nanaimo—Ladysmith, who is doing an excellent job of promoting gender equality.

Feminism does not only involve women. All men and women must work together to achieve parity.

As I mentioned earlier, hundreds of citizens in my riding have come to see me to talk about this. They have come to demand more action from the government. I have tabled petitions on their behalf. We are looking for more concrete measures from the government on this issue.

I have spoken about Bill C-220 from my colleague from Nanaimo—Ladysmith. This was tabled in various forms by the NDP in the past, notably by former MP Anne-Marie Day. It is clearly a long-standing commitment on our part. Everyone voted in favour of the bill except the Conservatives. I don’t know why, but they were not in agreement.

That bill was aiming for balanced gender representation on the boards of directors of crown corporations. This is an area where the government can take direct action. Unfortunately this has yet to be done. However we continue to move ahead and we will not give up. We hope that this time, in this Parliament, members from all parties in the House will be able to put partisanship aside so that progress can be made on the issue of gender parity.

The member who spoke before me mentioned another very important issue, that of executive compensation. This bill calls for the introduction of a consultative vote on executive compensation, something the investor and shareholder community has been calling for.

Bill C-25 improves the election process for board of director positions by eliminating the list system and requiring that directors be elected on a majority. Indeed, many stakeholders have asked for more of a say on the compensation for executives. The NDP was very active on CEO compensation. Unfortunately, the government did not consider any of that when drafting this bill, which is very disappointing.

Given the situation of Canada’s citizens, the deduction for stock options is a horrible fiscal loophole which must absolutely be eliminated. It serves to give an unfairly high salary to the biggest CEOs, the richest people in our society. These people are taxed on only 50% of these earnings, which is totally unfair, since Canadian citizens doing normal work are taxed on 100% of their wages. This tax loophole exists only for the benefit of CEOs, the richest people in our society. We have to tackle this injustice.

That is why the NDP called for the elimination of the deduction for stock options in its electoral platform. This loophole allows the senior officers of corporations to pay only half the income tax on their compensation paid as stock options, or 50% of the prescribed rate. If a citizen from Drummond were to do that, the Canada Revenue Agency would call him right away and order him to pay his full income tax. Yet for executives this is a legal loophole that exists.

There are certain loopholes that are legal, but are totally unacceptable in our modern society. They are totally unfair, bordering on unethical. Unfortunately, they exist, and they are legal. The government is doing very little, if anything at all, about these tax loopholes. Since it was elected, we have not really seen any strong commitment from this government on closing these unfair loopholes. This is one of the worst examples of what is lacking in this bill.

This is a truly regressive loophole. Over 90% of the benefit goes to 1% of taxpayers, those who earn over $250,000 a year. Truly, it is a minority of the Canadian population that benefits from this. This deduction is bad for the economy, since it encourages CEOs to inflate stock prices in the short term through buybacks instead of investing in the economy. The government is losing close to $750 million a year as a result. Stock option deductions are totally unfair and unacceptable.

I have spoken of my fellow citizens who continue to be very active in Drummond. Hundreds have signed a petition to put an end to tax havens. Somewhat like tax loopholes, there are also tax havens the government needs to address. As the House knows, there are many ways to either facilitate the use of tax havens or curb it. Unfortunately, the steps recently taken only serve to facilitate it.

This situation is depriving the state of the funds it needs to carry out its social mission. According to Statistics Canada, tax avoidance is costing the government from $5 billion to $8 billion every year.

Fortunately, this phenomenon is now leading to some collective soul-searching. As I was saying, hundreds of my fellow citizens have signed a petition demanding that we take more action in this area. I have joined in by tabling that petition here in the House of Commons to signal the importance of combatting tax havens and tax loopholes.

It is extremely important to do this, because the public purse is being denied hundreds of millions of dollars by tax loopholes and billions of dollars by tax havens. Public services suffer as a result.

One need only consider health. In the next 10 years, there will be $36 billion in cuts. The cuts were started by the Conservatives; the Liberals had promised to abolish these unfair cuts affecting the most vulnerable in our society, those who have health problems. Unfortunately, the Liberals want to continue on this unfair path. It is totally unacceptable to continue these sorts of cuts.

It is a way of not investing in health, for the funds diverted from the public purse cannot be used for the well-being of the Canadian population.

In the end, the NDP wants the government to take concrete steps to bring about gender parity on Canadian boards of directors. Many researchers interested in gender equality in companies and in politics feel that the “comply or explain” model of disclosure that is found in Bill C-25 in its current form does not appropriately address the issue of gender parity. Therefore, as I was saying earlier, we are going to do everything we can to ensure that amendments are made to improve this situation.

Furthermore, New Democrats want the government to take advantage of the opportunity presented by Bill C-25 to resolve the issue of executive salaries by assigning shareholders a bigger role in the establishment of compensation. That would be a start.

I will conclude by saying that the bill is a step in the right direction. We are going to make amendments to it in committee. I hope that the Liberal and Conservative members of that committee will work in a collegial fashion to improve this bill for the well-being of our citizens. That is very important, and that is why we were elected.

Canada Business Corporations ActGovernment Orders

November 25th, 2016 / 1:10 p.m.
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Sheila Malcolmson NDP Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will start by indicating that I will be splitting my time with my colleague, the member for Regina—Lewvan.

We just went through an American election that disparaged women's leadership. I would like to see Canada and all Canadian parliamentarians send a strong message about the important role of women in leadership.

Last week I was really proud when the New Democratic caucus arranged an all-women's question period lineup the first day after the U.S. election. We wanted to promote women in politics and make sure that we were showing that women who are elected take their voice and are given a voice and fight back against the sexist notions we heard throughout the U.S. election.

Women are still under-represented within our country's decision-making bodies in every area. We have a lot of work to do in that regard.

Talking today about board of director appointments, only 27% of members of boards of directors of crown corporations, agencies, and commissions across our country are women. Those are appointments the federal government has an exclusive responsibility to make, and it is not providing appointments to those boards of directors that actually reflect the diversity and gender makeup of our country.

New Democrats are proposing concrete action to ensure the equality of men and women in many areas, but in this case on crown corporation and federal commission boards. My private member's bill, Bill C-220, is an act to amend the Financial Administration Act with respect to balanced representation. It aims for gender parity in crown corporation and federal commission appointments within six years of its adoption.

This bill has been introduced by a number of New Democrat members of Parliament over the years, such as the member for London—Fanshawe, and most recently, former MP Anne-Marie Day. It was defeated by the Conservatives but supported by both the Liberals and New Democrats when it was debated and voted on in 2014.

When we have appointed women to crown agencies, we have had some great successes. Last night we were meeting with the board of directors of VIA Rail, which has gender parity on its board. Its chair is a woman who is a fantastic proponent of this very important public service. Very recently, in my own community in Nanaimo, Erralyn Thomas was appointed to a local government commission, the Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation. Erralyn Thomas is an elected Snuneymuxw First Nation councillor. I am very glad to see her take that leadership role in my community.

The Nanaimo Port Authority has a majority of female board members. I love telling the story of how this happened, because it is a bit outside the norm. We have the Laurentian Pilotage Authority, which I believe has zero women. That is another federal agency. However, the Nanaimo Port Authority has a majority of women.

I asked the, at the time, male chair of the board how this came to be. He said that the transport minister of the day, who sits in this House but now on the Conservative side, refused to approve any of the appointments being proposed by the Nanaimo Port Authority for its board of directors until it had some women in its pile of recommendations. It finally got the message. It proposed strong women in our community—engineers, accountants, community leaders—and I would argue that as a result of having appointed a gender-balanced board, the Nanaimo Port Authority meshes much better with the community of Nanaimo. It has better community relations. It is actually prioritizing relations with area first nations in a way it has not before.

We do well when our federal boards and commissions actually reflect the diversity of our country. When we prioritize gender-balanced appointments, we find those good candidates who have not been appointed up to that point.

The problem with this approach is that it relies singularly on the good intentions of the responsible person of the day, in this case a former Conservative transport minister, who asked me not to name her, because she thought she would sound like a New Democrat. I think I just did.

The same goes for the Liberal appointment of a gender-balanced cabinet. I applaud that, but that was at one point in time. There is nothing that actually benefits women on the ground. There is nothing that sets in stone that appointments in the future, at any level, will actually be gender balanced.

A significant failing of this bill we are now debating is that it makes no reference to federal crown appointments.

I am going to try to convince this House that the federal government would be more effective telling co-ops, corporate boards, and the business community to appoint gender-balanced boards of directors if it actually got its own house in order first and did its own homework on the decisions being made right at home.

This was a Liberal government commitment. They are expected to do their part to fulfill the “government's commitment to transparent, merit-based appointments, to help ensure gender parity”. That is in the mandate letter to the Minister of Status of Women. The Prime Minister asked for support for the Privy Council Office “as it develops monitoring and reporting processes to ensure that the government's senior appointments are merit-based and demonstrate gender parity”.

In a late show debate last week, the Parliamentary Secretary for Status of Women said that there are 4,000 Governor in Council and ministerial appointments to commissions, boards, crown corporations, agencies, and tribunals across the country coming up. However, although we were in a debate about gender equality, she said nothing about whether they actually were making those appointments in a gender-balanced way.

We asked the Library of Parliament. There were no stats at all on whether those appointments are being made in a gender-balanced way. I have asked the Minister of Status of Women in correspondence and have not had any answer.

We know this is a direction and a commitment of the government. We want to see it realized. It is badly needed. We have a number of crown agencies that have either no women or hardly any women.

There has been great reporting by Metro News on this recently here in Ottawa. They named, for example, the Bank of Canada, the Canadian Dairy Commission, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, the National Capital Commission, and the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority as having none or few women on their boards. That is an embarrassment in 2016, or actually in any year.

Bill C-25 purports to address issues of gender parity and shareholder democracy, but it does not get its own house in order first. It makes no reference to federal appointments. There is a Senate bill, Bill S-207, the boards of directors modernization act , which is actually much more in line with the New Democrat approach. It does propose a direction and legislation on crown appointments being gender balanced. We applaud the Senate for going further than the government is.

I will finish with some criticism of the Bill C-25 approach. The “comply or explain” model, which is being relied on in this legislation, has been described by the Canadian Board Diversity Council as “not leading to meaningful disclosure and a consistent improved pace of change”. It notes “a growing sentiment that quotas may be necessary to bring about the desired change”.

Canada continues to lag behind other countries when it comes to women in leadership positions. The Liberal government, we are sad to see, seems content to apply the same aspirational targets and models that have not worked that the Conservative government had. I am dismayed to see the similarity of an approach that did not work under the Conservative government. Why would it be any different under the Liberal government?

This is only the second time in 40 years that Canada has addressed the issue of corporate governance. This is not a bill, in my view, that represents #realchange. It falls short in many respects.

In closing, we will be better as a country, our governance will be better, if our decision-making bodies better reflect the diversity and strength of our country. We would very much like to see this bill amended to incorporate the elements of my private member's bill, Bill C-220, which would get at the requirement to have gender-balanced federal commission appointments. The government should take the power it has and make the appointments it has the sole responsibility for. This should be a priority. It would be a true action that would implement the government's feminist rhetoric.

Canada Business Corporations ActGovernment Orders

November 25th, 2016 / 12:25 p.m.
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Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet NDP Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, it seems that the Conservatives are going to vote in favour of sending Bill C-25 to committee.

I would like to know if they are also going to support Bill C-220, introduced by colleague from Nanaimo—Ladysmith, that seeks to improve gender diversity on corporate boards and among senior management.

A few years ago, in the last Parliament, my colleague Anne-Marie Day introduced a similar bill and the Conservatives voted against it. However, this time, they seem to want to vote in favour of this bill, which also seeks to increase the presence of women on corporate boards.

I would like to know what their position will be on my colleague's bill.

Gender Equality Week ActPrivate Members' Business

November 17th, 2016 / 8:05 p.m.
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Sheila Malcolmson NDP Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

Mr. Speaker, we definitely need gender equality. There is no question. Canadian women earn only 74¢ for every dollar earned by men. Domestic and sexual violence cost our economy over $12 billion per year. There are 1.4 million women who report, and few report, having experienced forms of sexual violence in the last five years. One in four women in their lifetime will be affected by gender-based violence. Canada ranks 60th in the world when it comes to gender parity in our parliaments. We are behind Kazakhstan, South Sudan, and Iraq. Then we just had this very high-profile loss with the U.S. election of president where a lot of us are saying that a highly qualified woman lost to an under-qualified man. It is important to raise the profile of the contribution that Canadian women have made to the growth, development, and character of our country. There is no question.

Already this year, we have women on bank notes, we have a gender-balanced cabinet, and we have this bill being debated today to establish gender equality week. None of that makes a whit of difference in the lives of Canadian women on the ground. I suggest respectfully that the best way to honour women is by legislating real change on gender equality. After more than a year in power, the current Liberal government has failed to translate feminist rhetoric into real change, and it is far beyond time to put words into action.

New Democrats have a great list of actions that could be taken to make a difference in the lives of women and girls.

Number one on the list of actions is pay equity legislation now. Women make 74¢ on the dollar. Aboriginal women with a university degree earn 33% less, so the gap increases the more educated indigenous women are. Although the legislation was written 12 years ago when the previous Liberal government was in power, the government now says its target is late 2018. There is no excuse for that. Not a single witness recommended that kind of time lag. Women have waited 40 years for pay equity, and they should not have to wait any longer.

Another action is more women in Parliament. There are only 26% in this House. At this rate, it is going to take us 89 years to reach gender parity in Parliament. Because the Liberal government voted down the candidate gender equity act last month, which would have promoted a gender-balanced Parliament, we think that the government should introduce its own measure to actually get more women in these seats. Members of Parliament who voted against the candidate gender equity act include the sponsor of this bill and the Minister of Status of Women.

We want an expanded strategy to end violence against women. We still do not have a national plan of action to promote the protection of women and girls despite the commitment made to the United Nations in 1995. Since then, many countries have adopted a national action plan. They include Belgium, Finland, France, and the United Kingdom. Australia is on its fourth plan, kind of breaking some stereotypes about Australia's cowboy mentality. Here in Canada, rates of violence against women have remained largely unchanged over 20 years, and the absence of a national action plan is resulting in fragmented approaches across the provinces and territories. We want the action plan scope that the minister is now undertaking to be expanded to include service delivery in areas of provincial responsibility. That is what a national plan is. That would mean that it includes education, policing, and the justice system, all key services that can help end violence against women.

We want well-funded women's domestic violence shelters. On any given day, more than 4,000 women and over 2,000 children reside in a domestic violence shelter, every day. More than 300 women and children are turned away from shelters on any given day. Three out of four cannot be accommodated, and those are the ones who come forward looking for help. There has been a 24% increase in phone calls at the Haven Society in my riding of Nanaimo—Ladysmith. More and more women are asking for help. We need expanded services to be able to accommodate them. We are pushing hard for federal funding to support domestic violence shelter operations, and we note that in the mid-1990s the Chrétien government cut that operational funding, which was characterized as the most Draconian spending cuts in federal history.

New Democrats want domestic violence shelters for first nations, Métis, and Inuit women. According to Amnesty International, the scale and severity of violence faced by indigenous women and girls in Canada constitutes a national human rights crisis. Some 70% of Inuit communities do not have access to any domestic violence shelters.

Indigenous women face a violence rate of three times that of the rest of the Canadian population, and yet the Liberal budget funded only five new shelters on reserve over the next five years. That would result in a total of just 46 violence against women shelters on reserve across the country, and that is by 2022, well after the government's term is over. We also have to look much more thoughtfully at violence against women shelters off reserve.

Gender-based analysis is something that we need legislated in Canada. Gender equality can be exacerbated by policies and spending decisions if we do not have a legislated solution through which these kinds of decisions are made. The Standing Committee on the Status of Women, back in June, recommended that legislation be tabled in the House by June 2017. New Democrats recommended that it be tabled next month, because we need to get ahead of all of the policy changes and infrastructure spending that is about to roll out. However, the government's response was no timeline whatsoever. It thinks that in 2018 it might have a reaction to whether we need legislation at all. Therefore, there is no timetable for legislation.

We need child care in this country, high-quality, affordable child care, that helps women seek employment, improves their job skills and careers, and eases family financial stress. I was delighted to see this week that Premier Notley, the New Democrat premier in Alberta, is creating 1,000 new child care spaces and 230 new child care jobs. As Stephen Lewis has famously said, feminism is a vacant construct without a national child care system.

New Democrats want more federal appointments of women to crown corporations. Only 27% of members of boards of directors of federal crown corporations are women. This is a power that the government has to change, right now. The Canadian Dairy Commission, for example, has no women on it whatsoever. The Bank of Canada and CMHC have mostly male board members. In my community, the Nanaimo Port Authority has a majority of women on its board, and it is a fantastic board.

The federal government made commitments to real change in the mandate letter for the Minister of Status of Women, but no action has been taken yet. If none is taken, then I will encourage the government to support my bill, Bill C-220, which would move, over the next six years, gender parity on federal crown corporation boards and commissions.

There should be free prescription birth control. The costs of family planning fall disproportionately to women, and yet it is increasingly unaffordable. Liberals should work with the provinces to provide a framework for the full cost of prescription contraceptives to be covered.

Finally, the NDP wants the government to act on its fundamental responsibility by restoring the funding cut by the Conservative government to all of the under-funded social service organizations that support women, girls, and children in our communities. This is especially urgent for women with disabilities, women who are suffering poverty, aboriginal women, and women living in rural and remote areas.

In summary, we should take real action to achieve gender equality. We believe that, when women are no longer disproportionately affected by violence, inequality, and poverty, then we could legitimately have a celebratory week. I am going to vote in support of this bill, but New Democrats are going to propose at committee that this bill not enter into force before the government implements proactive pay equity legislation and gender-based analysis legislation.

After more than a year in power, the Trudeau government has failed to translate feminist intention into real change. It is far beyond time to put words into action. Together, let us create a gender equality week once we have something to celebrate.

Financial Administration ActRoutine Proceedings

February 16th, 2016 / 10:05 a.m.
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Sheila Malcolmson NDP Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-220, an act to amend the Financial Administration Act (balanced representation).

Mr. Speaker, today, New Democrats again propose legislation to require that the Government of Canada have balanced appointments, men and women, on federal crown corporation boards.

Last week, I met with the Nanaimo Port Authority, a fantastic, dynamic, professional board, with more women than men. Sadly, this is the exception in Canada. Women make up only 27% of federal appointments to crown corporation boards in this country. That is not acceptable. These agencies are missing out on the professionalism, the advice, and the wisdom of Canadian women.

Therefore, we are proposing concrete action to ensure the equality of men and women on crown corporation boards.

The bill carries forward the work of former MP Anne-Marie Day and the member for London—Fanshawe, who proposed this legislation in the previous session. It was voted down by the Conservatives two years ago.

Canada's government should use the power that it has to recognize women's contributions to the economy. Crown corporation boards should be gender balanced.

Actions speak louder than words.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)