Mr. Speaker, I would like to say to my colleague at the outset that I appreciate the fact that there were serious differences in the comment she made and she was, in fact, stretching it. Employment equity is not going to solve those problems. That is in Hansard forever more. I do appreciate the case of that family in the north.
This is an interesting debate. I find myself amazed as I look at the charter of rights and freedoms, section 15(1), which states: "Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and the equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability".
That seems fairly clear to me and probably clear to everybody else who is listening to this. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects us all, regardless of race, gender, language, ethnic background, et cetera.
I want to know how in the world we can get from that, where the charter protects us, to Bill C-64 on employment equity. Frankly, I have not heard an answer from the government side. I have heard stories, passionate story telling and all kinds of situations where people have talked about individuals. I could relate all kinds of them myself. However, when I hear my colleagues saying Bill C-64 is going to be the answer to all this, there is just no way on the earth that I an convinced and I suspect that most Canadians who are listening to the debate are simply not able to make that leap.
With the protections under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms I question why we are even debating this bill. There seems to be no reason. It is not going to resolve any situations. It is not going to make people's lives easier. The very institution that should be protecting the fundamental rights vis-à-vis the charter of rights and freedoms of all Canadians is being used to suppress one of those rights. It says: "We will look after this person but we will not look after that one. We will give one special treatment but not for the other, I am very sorry".
Bill C-64 will deny the right to equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination. Once we start travelling down that fork in the road I see nothing but flag warnings and signals ahead that we had better be careful. As was talked about in the Charlottetown accord, once people start saying to particular groups that they get distinct society status, they get special attention because of this or there should be so many women in the Senate, that takes us down a dangerous path where we do not think we could ever get back to that fork in the road.
When I hear the stories being talked about this morning, the alarm bells go off. I have to ask myself where it leads us. It is exactly as we saw in Charlottetown. What road does that lead us down? Are we ever going to be able to get back to that tributary? I really do not think it will help us a lot.
This bill will officially sanction discrimination against non-designated groups. As soon as somebody is designated, then someone else becomes non-designated. As soon as an individual or a group is committed to something, suddenly other people are left out by the sin of omission. Why do we have this obsession in this Parliament to make sure some people are labelled? I am sure my friend the minister across the way does not think it is good or right to label people. Yet here is legislation that he supports where he is starting to label people, then by omission others are left off the table.
There has to be a hint of discrimination displayed against designated groups. If there is, that is when there are problems. Just let there be a hint against those designated groups and the equity control patrol will suddenly swoop in. They are hot on the trail to right those wrongs and impose stiff penalties on the offenders. It amazes me when I think about it.
For instance, why should we have equity police? Heaven forbid, we sit in a Chamber where there are 53 women, which I will talk about a little later. I have heard colleagues, especially in the last Parliament but certainly in this Parliament as well, saying that 51 per cent of the population are women so 51 per cent of members of Parliament should be female. That is ridiculous. Later I will talk about the fact that I am a female MP but I will do it on ability and competence rather than just on the fact that I am a female.
The equity police are to be people going around checking up to make sure that everybody is doing what they are supposed to be doing. Mr. Speaker, you can see that will lead down a road to trouble as well. Imagine if someone were on you all the time saying: "I do not think he is doing the right thing. I think his hiring practices in his House of Commons' office are questionable".
Mr. Speaker, can you imagine the fear, the nervousness, the sense of being watched that you would feel? I am sure you have read 1984 where George Orwell talks about how the thought police are going to be on us all the time. Although I do not want to sound like an alarmist it seems this legislation provides a possibility for that. It may be setting up these equity police. They will be going around making sure that everybody is hiring the right people and doing all this stuff in their offices.
The human rights commission is to be the overseeing group that looks after this. It will send in the equity police to make sure that everything is going according to Bill C-64. It is interesting to note that absolutely zero funding is to be given for that.
Suddenly this new bureaucracy or group is being set up that says: "We are going to have the equity police to make sure that everybody is hired properly. Maybe there is just the right number of people at the table; maybe the House of Commons staff can be broken down just fine". It is impractical. It is divisive. It is not going to work.
I get to these equity police. Dear knows how they are going to be assembled. I am not sure. I suppose they would have to fit under the right group. Who polices the police in this situation? There is zero funding for this bunch that will work under the human rights commission. How in the world are we ever going to be able to police such a thing?
We want less government. We want people to walk around in freedom, to be able hire who they think will do the best job for them and make sure that everybody is going to do the best he or she possibly can.
Knowing there is always someone trying to run a business, a government department or whatever, there is nothing that would make any of us, whether MPs, senators or whatever say we are really nervous and we want to make sure all the right things are being done. I am not sure the people who will be equity police will have the qualifications to do the cop job the government will be asking them to do.
The most amazing thing I find about this piece of legislation is with regard to the province of Ontario. This is not my home province but I visit here from week to week with my job. What an incredible turnaround when the socialist government, which was in power for several years, was thrown out on its left ear in June because of the Conservatives and Mike Harris and all he stood for. My friends will remember that just last year even a socialist NDP government in Ontario could not get this type of legislation through.
I know my friends over here are in full favour of Bill C-64. I have a question for one of them from Ontario. If the NDP socialist government in Ontario cannot pass employment equity legislation, how in the world will the Liberals do it? I know my friend from Broadview-Greenwood is very concerned about this. Although he is from downtown Toronto, a hair bigger than my hometown of Heinsburg, I would like him to answer the question seriously. Will it solve the problems? Will it make sure people have employment? Will it help the employment situation? I know numbers in employment are important to him.
He says it will and I have a great deal of faith in him, but I am not sure we can make this leap of logic that it will make a whole lot of difference. If an NDP socialist government could not even get it through, how in the world will it fly across the country? It is not.
We have seen what has happened to the NDP and socialism. I can remember in the last Parliament I used to sit back there and the NDP was down here. What is happening worldwide? There is a move away from that government interference in our lives. We now see the NDP as a fourth party in the House. We will see that continue to move away. It has happened in Ontario and right across the country.
Hiring habits are wonderful but as soon as someone tells us we have to do this or they will come after us if we do not, we know even in our human nature that as soon as someone says we have do this they are toast. It is as simple as that. It did not work in Ontario and it simply will not work here. Employment equity legislation flies in the face of the merit principle.
Is the Revenue Canada document "The Employment Equity Action Plan for 1995-96" a start or is it the be all and end all? Will 1995-96 be the big watershed year for employment equity or will it be the start of something that leads us down the path of divisiveness and danger?
A really good example in this document states how hiring quotas would work, quotas being what we are talking about. The government is refusing to acknowledge that. It says it is not talking about quotas or specific numbers. It is numbers, it is quotas and it is tokenism that we are really talking about here.
Under women the document states females are under-represented in certain occupational groups, namely auditors, managers and senior managers. The solution to the problem is the following discriminatory statement from the document: "Consider only female recruitment when external hiring is undertaken as an ongoing policy".
If the men in the Chamber cannot see through that, surely the women can. Can anyone imagine anything so pathetic as somebody saying we should consider only female recruitment when external hiring is undertaken as an ongoing policy? That is absolutely ridiculous.
Let us look at our own situation in the House of Commons. I am a woman involved in politics. I represent one of the 53 women MPs out of 295. We are under-represented in the House of Commons but let us keep working on it. There were 40 women in the last Parliament. We are 53 in this Parliament. My friend over here is a new MP which is great because we have more numbers. Would she not sooner work with a smaller group of really committed, class act, competent women rather than having 51 per cent of the MPs here elected just because they were women?
Let us look at people who will have some abilities in this place. I said this before in the Chamber and I am not ashamed to say it again. If I go anywhere in my constituency and say: "Hello, Mr. Mills, my name is Deborah Grey, I am your member of Parliament, I am your Reform candidate, please vote for me, I am a woman", I would expect him to take me into his house, sit me down, give me a
cup of coffee and say: "Come on now". It is incredible. That is what this legislation would lead to.
Mr. Speaker, you know as well as I do because you sit with the governing party and you were here in the last Parliament, when people were getting ready for nominations-remember the wrangle before the 1993 election-some women in this party, in the NDP and, bless it, the memory of the Conservative Party anyway, did not even have to go through a nomination process. Certain women said certain ridings were for them. They did not have to go through a nomination process because they were anointed or appointed to that. My friends know this. There is absolutely no way they can deny it.
A few women in the House got the nomination by acclamation. Is that right? Is that employment equity? Absolutely not.
I would like to think that I and the two women sitting in the Chamber right now won the election because we are competent. Is that agreed? Absolutely. They had some skills and they had some ability and they would be effective members of Parliament. It is not just because the leaders of the parties said they think we should have so many women. The NDP gives extra funding for people.
There were nomination meetings held at which some men were told they would not get the chance to run because certain seats, NDP, Liberal or whatever, were designated for women. Let us look at the numbers and see how effective that was. Many people were nominated. I do not know the number of women nominated in ridings who did not actually win their seat, but I do know my numbers of women elected.
For the Liberals, 36 out of 178. That represents 20 per cent of their caucus. We appreciate that and we celebrate it, up from 13 per cent. I suppose that is a great start. It is interesting that it was up from 13 per cent but they did not have employment equity to do it. Of the Bloc Quebecois, eight out of the 53 are women, 15 per cent. For the Reform Party, we are seven women out of 52, 14 per cent. The NDP elected one, 11 per cent of its nine members. As for the Conservatives, their numbers are quite interesting. Fifty per cent of their caucus is female and I certainly respect them for that.
A record was set in 1989 when 100 per cent of the Reform caucus was female, myself of course. Do members see what we can do with numbers? It is absolutely ridiculous.
The sad part was there were so many more women who were candidates in that election. They did not win their seats for the Liberal or the governing caucus. Why? So many of them were told they would be run in such and such a constituency. They knew they did not have a hope.
Somebody said they were spear carriers for that, not even dreaming they would ever get the seat. It is true. I know of a couple of situations in B.C. in which some NDP fellows wanted to run for the nomination and could not. I think they had a pretty good idea they would not win the seat. Reform took most of the seats across B.C. except in the lower mainland.
Nothing would be more pathetic than if my party leader or someone else came to me and said they were going to put me in here. They would like me to run in such and such a riding. They do not think I have a chance of winning but they want a woman in that seat. I would say no, forget it. I do not want any part of that. If I cannot run fair and square regardless of my being a woman, I will not participate in something like that and I hope these people would say the same thing.
One of my heroes of this place is Agnes Macphail. She was cool. I am sure all the women and men in the House would agree she was a wonderful woman. She was the first woman ever elected to this place.
I was nervous in 1989 as the only Reformer and some of the new members of Parliament may have been nervous because this place is inspiring. We were all awe struck when we came.
Agnes Macphail was elected in 1921 for the Progressive Party. She sat with the Progressives from 1921 to 1935 for the constituency of Grey South East. She then moved to the CCF and was the member for Grey-Bruce as it was called then from 1935 to 1940.
If Agnes Macphail were here today, I would love to hear what she would have to say about employment equity and that the government is trying to push through Bill C-64.
They did not have the blessing of microphones in the Chamber then so one had to speak loudly to be heard. The best line I can remember from Agnes Macphail, truly my hero, was when one male member of Parliament said: "Agnes, have you ever been mistaken for a man in the Chamber?" She said: "No, have you?"
That is a class act. I do not think employment equity would have helped her a whole lot. I think she would be absolutely scandalized by Bill C-64. Someone asked her if she had ever been mistaken for a man. What a ridiculous thing to ask. We have come a long way since then.
This morning I was at the Governor General's residence for the presentation of the awards to six women who did a wonderful job in the Persons case with the famous five from Alberta. It was a wonderful ceremony. I am not sure why my friend is laughing across the way. It is a pity she was not there because these are great
women who were awarded the Governor General's medal today. It was excellent. They have all done work on the Persons case and they were all being rewarded for the work they are doing.
It was interesting when they gave us the history that Nellie McClung, Emily Murphy and all those wonderful women from Alberta in the 1920s were not even recognized as persons. They took it to the Supreme Court and it was turned down. They did not even get to be called persons. Then in 1929 they took it to the privy council. They went to Lord Chancellor Sankey in England, trying to get overturned the ruling that said: "Women are persons in matters of pains and penalties but are not persons in matters of rights and privileges".
Emily Murphy found that a bit hard and somebody challenged her because she was a magistrate; imagine, a magistrate in Alberta. They challenged her that she was not a person. Five people were allowed to appeal that and away these women went. On October 18, 1929 they were granted by Lord Chancellor Sankey to be persons.
I find it pathetic that somebody has just snorted here and thought this was a real laugh. I want to honour these people for what they did back in 1929. Because of that, she was and I am able to sit in the House of Commons. We are treated as persons. Then of course women got the vote after that.
This is the kind of stuff that is important. I would like to know what those women would think about it. Emily Murphy challenged married women's property rights. If a woman had property with her husband back then and her husband died, she would be tough out of luck. She would lose the title to that land.
Things have come a long way since that day. I really appreciate that. We need to celebrate that. I do think this legislation will take us down a very dangerous, divisive road down and we will be sorry we cannot turn around.
Again I tell my colleagues across the House that as hilarious, scornful, mocking or whatever they think this is, they need to be aware that it will not solve the problems. The NDP could not pass it in Ontario. It will get rammed through the House of Commons but there will be waves and repercussions making it very frightening for people across the country.
Employment equity will breed resentment because it will be assumed that designated groups attained employment not by the merit principle but by legislated coercion. It will label designated groups as being inferior and unable to compete on a level playing field. It is patronizing, hierarchical and elitist. It assumes designated groups need a higher order to run interference for them. It is wrong. It is bad. I am really sorry the government will ram through Bill C-64.