Thank you very much for agreeing to testify at committee, Dr. Young.
Thank you also for making what I think is a pretty clear distinction between efforts to establish gender equity within cabinet and government largely, and the kinds of administrative aspects that this bill deals with in terms of creating categories—a minister, etc.
I will remind some of my colleagues across the way that at the second reading debate of this bill, a theme of Liberal speeches was that this was a way to promote gender equality within cabinet. If that's not the case, fine, but that wasn't the impression one had in listening to government members speak to this bill at second reading. That is why it's part of the discussion now.
Certainly I think part of the way that this whole thing came up—even in terms of adjusting the administrative details of cabinet composition—was because there was a big story after the cabinet was originally announced, in November of 2015, noticing that all five junior minister portfolios were occupied by women, and they weren't necessarily being paid the same. That's what initiated the criticism of the cabinet appointments. It was to be a good news story, but ended up not being one. Subsequently this legislation came along in order to say, “Well actually, all ministers are equal.”
There does seem to be some equivocation between equal ministers in the sense of gender equality, versus equal ministers in the sense of status around the table. I'll defer debate on the administrative components, because a minister for whom a department is designated doesn't seem to be substantially different in status from a minister of state, except in name only.
I want to ask you, because the legislation is open and we are talking about.... I think most of us around this table, if not all, would affirm that gender equality in cabinet is an important goal that we're still working toward.
The legislation is open. Are there things we could do in terms of amending these acts that are touched by the bill in order to build in aspects of gender equality to the cabinet-making process? Are there amendments we could make that would speak to gender equality in this bill?