House of Commons Hansard #27 of the 41st Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was cyberbullying.


Financial Administration ActPrivate Members' Business

1:45 p.m.


Anne-Marie Day NDP Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for her intervention. She is always a strong advocate of women's issues.

We suggest gradually introducing quotas over many years because we want to help crown corporations fulfill their mandates. The percentage increases very gradually from 30% to 40% to 50%. Corporations will have six years to comply.

As we know, the Conference Board of Canada said it would take 151 years to reach the goal if we just let things happen. I do not believe we should let things happen. These rules are not meant for private companies. They apply to crown corporations, which are completely different. I believe we have an opportunity to be an inspiration to all Canadians and businesses by showing the way forward.

Financial Administration ActPrivate Members' Business

1:45 p.m.


Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to follow up on a comment from the other side. We commonly hear that the crown corporations are at arm's length. What is not at arm's length is who gets to make the appointments to boards. It is cabinet. It is the Conservative government that makes the appointments to boards.

We have had the Conservatives in power for quite some time, and we still see women being stalled and not being appointed. I wonder if my colleague could speak to that.

Financial Administration ActPrivate Members' Business

1:50 p.m.


Anne-Marie Day NDP Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Mr. Speaker, in my speech, I mentioned that the old boys' clubs have a tradition of getting close to the government and being close at hand when appointments are made. Appointments are made by ministers and approved by the Governor General. There is no reason not to appoint women to sit on crown corporations' boards. After all, crown corporations are really part of our jurisdiction. We have a responsibility to take action, as does the minister.

Financial Administration ActPrivate Members' Business

1:50 p.m.

London North Centre Ontario


Susan Truppe ConservativeParliamentary Secretary for Status of Women

Mr. Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to voice my concerns about Bill C-473. Before I start, I want to correct the record and indicate that funds at Status of Women are actually at their highest level ever.

The bill put forward by the hon. member opposite would use legislated quotas to force the government to balance the representation of women and men on the boards of directors of crown corporations.

The government agrees that the presence of women on corporate boards brings a different perspective and an important voice to crown corporations. However, legislated quotas come with many potential problems, and that is why we cannot support the bill. For example, there are rigid and arbitrary thresholds that could get in the way of appointing people who reflect Canada's diversity in terms of linguistic, regional and employment equity representation, including women.

Legislated quotas could also result in the potential disruption of commercial operations and good corporate governance. For instance, gender quotas could restrict or limit the pool of potential candidates for a vacant position, leaving the board unable to meet quorum while the minister searches for an appropriate person. In short, the problems with imposed quotas far outweigh the benefits.

However, no one should doubt our government's commitment to women having a voice in Canada's public and private sector boardrooms. We know that women contribute in every respect to corporate enterprises throughout Canada, but we believe that a more competitive corporate Canada requires that appointments to boards are based on merit and excellence. That is why we support a voluntary approach. The voluntary approach is a more flexible way of meeting the government's objectives of appointing the most suitable candidate, based on a number of requirements and competencies.

At the same time, we believe in taking concrete action to advance more women into leadership roles across the country and our economy. For example, working in partnership with private sector firms, we supported the work of the Canadian Board Diversity Council. This group is educating the business community on the value of board diversity. It is also equipping a diversity of board-ready, high-potential candidates, including women, with the tools to pursue board positions.

In addition, in economic action plan 2012, we announced the creation of an advisory council to increase opportunities for women's leadership on corporate boards and to keep our economy strong. Its members were announced by the Minister of Status of Women in April.

The advisory council is comprised of women and men representing a wide range of experience within the corporate sector. All have distinguished themselves as inspired, forward-thinking leaders and decision-makers, committed to the principles of equality, diversity and excellence in our country's boardrooms. These prominent Canadians include John Manley, president of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives; Monique Leroux, head of Desjardins; and Charles Winograd, chair of the TMX Group.

The role of the advisory council is to advise the minister on how businesses in the private sector can increase the number of women on their corporate boards. The council is also being asked to suggest how industry and government can track and measure progress under this initiative, and what tools, if any, the government should employ to achieve this goal. It will suggest ways of recognizing or rewarding companies that meet their targets for increasing the representation of women on their boards. Finally, the advisory council will report back with its recommendations this fall, and we look forward to its input and ideas.

Another example of actions that our government has taken to empower women is in economic action plan 2013. Economic action plan 2013 includes a number of measures to better connect Canadians with job opportunities, which will help increase the representation of women in all types of careers.

In addition, since 2007, more than $46 million has been approved through the women's program at Status of Women Canada for projects that promote women's economic security and prosperity. This past July we announced that, through Status of Women Canada, we were providing $266,630 in funding for a 36-month project called Roots/Routes to Women's Leadership and Empowerment: Best Practices.

The project promotes leadership through economic empowerment for women in Toronto. Participants receive leadership training and mentorship to help strengthen their skills and confidence and assist them in taking on leadership roles in their communities. Our support for this project reflects our government's desire to empower women, by putting in place the building blocks of success for more women and girls to prosper in their own lives.

We understand that Canada is better off when the talents and skills of women and girls are represented in every sector of society, in government at every level, and from the grassroots all the way to the boardroom. We know that the more we break down barriers and inspire young women and girls to pursue a wide variety of career options, the stronger Canada will be.

Where we differ from the hon. member opposite is that we believe in creating sustainable pathways to success rather than legislating them. That is why we do not support Bill C-473 with its legislated quotas as the best way to achieve gender balance on the boards of crown corporations.

The voluntary way is the more effective way, and we believe it is the better way for Canadian women, crown corporations and Canada's economy to succeed.

Financial Administration ActPrivate Members' Business

1:55 p.m.


Irwin Cotler Liberal Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House to address Bill C-473, legislation that would amend 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. I want to commend my colleague for her initiative and her remarks in debate today.

Before I discuss the merits of the legislation, I would like to note the context in which this debate occurs. November 25 was the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. It marked the first of 16 days of activism against gender violence, which will conclude on December 10, international Human Rights Day. During this period, as members know, we will observe, on December 6, the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women, marking the anniversary of the 1989 murders of 14 young women at l'École Polytechnique de Montréal. The truth of this tragedy should not be ignored, marginalized, or otherwise sanitized. Simply put, these 14 women were murdered simply because they were women, a fact that finds expression in global violence against women both domestically and internationally.

While I know the bill before us is not on the subject of gender violence, I believe that we must situate our debate on gender parity within the broader context of discussing women's rights. At the risk of repeating myself in the chamber, although it is a moment and a message that bear repeating, Canada should lead the way and heed the call, first affirmed 20 years ago at the World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna, that women's right are human rights, and there are no human rights that do not include the rights of women. It is up to us to give expression to this message through concrete action, and it should be clear to all listening to this debate that the tools to promote the objectives of equality are within our own hands. We must commit ourselves to this cause without delay.

I have been inspired by the work of civil society and NGOs in this regard, but most of all, I have been inspired by young people who are leading the call for change. As many members are aware, McGill University held its annual women in House program last week, bringing McGill women students to Parliament to meet with MPs to discuss encouraging more participation among women in public life. I was privileged to participate in a panel, which included representation from all parties, as part of this inspiring gathering. I would like to publicly thank the organizers for their hard work in achieving this year's event success.

As I noted in my remarks to the visiting students, it is a shame that while women make up 50.9% of the Canadian population, 70 million-plus strong in the 2011 census, in the current House, women have barely one-quarter of the seats. This is a result of policy choices we have made and could change. While I will not go into the details here, we have seen in examples around the world, using, for instance, Norway and Sweden as examples, that if we remove obstacles such as financial barriers, the old boys' network, and the like, more women will run and more women will be elected, and we can improve gender parity in the Commons.

As an aside, I would be remiss if I did not note that in the wake of this week's by-elections, I look forward to welcoming the new member for Toronto Centre, Chrystia Freeland, who I have no doubt will make many important contributions to, among other things, women's rights and gender equality in her new role.

Beyond policy options to improve gender parity in Parliament, there are policy options with respect to parity more broadly, and this is what this bill is about. Bill C-473 is at second reading, and thus the question before Parliament is whether it should be sent to committee for further study and refinement. I believe this matter should, indeed, be referred to committee so that witnesses can help inform the discussion and debate. I support the spirit and principle of the bill, as I believe gender parity is a goal we should pursue.

That said, there are some questions to be addressed in committee regarding the scope and implementation of this bill. One such question I think it important to raise is whether the legislation goes far enough in that the number of women on boards may not be an accurate indicator, in and of itself, of women's progress more broadly. In other words, to illustrate with an example, just because we have gender parity on a board heading a science agency does not mean we are doing enough to encourage women to enter and remain in the sciences or that women are equitably represented in decisions regarding science policy.

Certainly, I share the hope that if more women are on boards, these boards and agencies will adopt policies and perspectives that are inclusive and sensitive to the need for minority representation. However, we might wonder whether there are other metrics to be considered in this regard, such as compensation and the promotion of women relative to their male counterparts.

It is interesting to note that the bill comes from the NDP, which generally takes very progressive stances in this regard. Another such question is that this bill seems not to contemplate how a transgendered individual may count or wish to be counted for gender-parity purposes. Simply put, there may be consequences to ambiguity in the legislation as it does reinforce a gender binary to which not all ascribe.

Moreover, and perhaps most importantly, the bill seems to be silent on the matter of sanctions. That is, it does not outline penalties or remedial action for failure to adhere to the objectives outlined in the bill. It specifically states:

An act of the board of directors of a parent Crown not invalid on the sole ground that the composition of the board is not in compliance with that section.

In other words, any decision made by a board without the designated gender representation is not invalid if the board does not meet the appropriate gender representation requirements. This clause would seem to lessen the strength of the bill. I think we will have to investigate whether we might have some sort of mechanism whereby we do not merely say, as this bill does, and importantly so, that failure to meet the required parity is “just business as usual” and “we're sorry”. Ultimately, without any consequence for failure to meet the quotas, this entire initiative may become an exercise in symbolism, which again is important but which I am sure the hon. member who introduced the bill did not intend to be the principal impact.

There are multiple approaches to this question. One which I believe ought to be considered, though again this perspective might be informed through debate and in committee, is whether we set a goal of 50% parity in the statute and mandate sanctions when a figure of less than 40% is achieved. While I agree that 40% is not parity, a requirement of 40% with a 50% goal is preferable to a goal set of 50% with a requirement of 0%, which is what the bill would appear to mandate in its current form. I want to be clear on this point because I know there will be some doubts as to what direction this ought to take and whether one should support quotas, affirmative action and the like, and whether this initiative can be effective.

In part, the discussions on this bill will be illuminated by expert witness testimony before the committee. I do hope we can send this bill to committee so that witnesses will provide the evidence that we as parliamentarians can then use to inform our perspectives and the subsequent debate.

Indeed, there is expertise and experience on this question, most notably from my own province of Quebec, as my colleague cited in her remarks. She stated:

As previously mentioned, in Quebec, An Act Respecting the Governance of State-owned Enterprises requires that the Government of Quebec establish a policy with the following objective:

...that the boards of directors of the enterprises as a group include an equal number of women and men...

Just before that line, there is a provision that states:

...that the boards of directors of the enterprises as a group be composed of members whose cultural identity reflects the various segments of Québec society;

We might wonder if a similar provision on cultural community representation ought to be in Bill C-473 as well. From Quebec's experience and international experience in this regard we can better establish how effective such a law is at achieving parity and where the pitfalls are. For example, if it turned out that to comply with the guidelines, some board would simply reduce the overall number of members but that this would have a prejudicial impact on the work of such a board, we might want to reconsider if in some cases a ministerial exemption might be appropriate. This would be a matter in which hearing from Quebec's experience would greatly inform and assist parliamentarians as we address this issue.

Before concluding my remarks, I would be remiss if I did not note that all issues of gender parity are not solved by this bill, though it is certainly a step in the right direction.

For example, the recent appointment to the Supreme Court of Canada of Justice Marc Nadon, was critiqued in that his appointment did not preserve the previous 5:4 gender parity observed on our nation's highest tribunal. While I would agree that judicial excellence and merit ought to be the prime consideration in any appointment, it is troubling to note that under the current Conservative government there have been six justices appointed to the Supreme Court. They are the Honourable Justices Rothstein, Cromwell, Moldaver, Karakatsanis, Wagner and Nadon, only one of whom is a woman. Surely, we can do a better job of achieving and maintaining gender parity at the Supreme Court and of addressing diversity in the judiciary overall, as there is room for improvement on this front.

This bill would not address parity on a body such as the Supreme Court, though one would hope that in 2013 the Government of Canada would adopt a mindset of equality and not need a legislative reminder of what ought otherwise to be considered common sense, if not principle.

As I close, I want to applaud my colleague from Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles for addressing an issue of women's rights wherein the government's leadership has been wanting and wherein Parliament has a distinct role to play.

There are many other concerns, both domestic and international, that time does not permit me to address, including women in armed conflict, pay equity, matrimonial real property, gender budgeting, access to comprehensive medical care, and the like, on which I would encourage the government to adopt a more progressive and inclusive approach. Until then, I hope more private members' bills such as this will seek to advance the equality cause that arguably the government has abandoned.

Financial Administration ActPrivate Members' Business

2:05 p.m.


Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, at the outset, I want to congratulate the member for Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles for her leadership in tabling the bill in this place today.

My colleague who spoke before me has raised a litany of issues on gender parity that have yet to be addressed by either Conservative or Liberal governments in the past. In a couple of years from now, when the New Democrats take control of government, I am looking forward to addressing these matters from the House of Commons. I would point out that given the large proportion of women in the chamber represented by our party, we can have full confidence that the government will also be represented by a lot of women, including in cabinet.

It is important to point out that my colleague has tabled a bill addressing a clear power of the government—that is, its power to make appointments to crown corporations. The bill is very laudatory, because what she is saying is that government should lead by example. In a notation in budget 2012, the government simply encouraged private corporate boards to include more Canadian women, and that was good business sense, but it took no measures itself to increase the number of women on the boards to which it controls appointments.

Of course, the members will remember that the government of the day made great promises for open, transparent, participatory government and tabled its accountability bill. What it has not delivered on, and what it struck down without striking down the payment is its appointments secretariat, which for many years continued to have millions of dollars budgeted when it in fact did no business.

Therefore, there is no clear mechanism whereby members of Parliament can come forward on appointments to make recommendations to encourage more names of women to come forward. The only time members of Parliament can do that is when the speaker refers the matter of appointments to committees and if in the wisdom of the committee it decides that it will address that matter. It is always after the fact. It is after the government has already decided who it is bringing forward as appointments.

Therefore, I fully congratulate my colleague for her very progressive step, which is very clearly based on the information she provided to the House today in keeping with other G8 nations. To represent the interests of all Canadians, we should of course turn to the G8 nations when they are taking more democratic measures.

I think also that the bill is very wise, because it does not recommend that we immediately provide parity on all crown corporations for men and women. There is a very phased increase over time, which is reasonable.

There was opposition by the government member speaking against quotas, saying that somehow women have to have quotas or they will never get appointed, which is an absurd statement. One of the reasons governments turn to quotas is that governments have not voluntarily gone in that direction. We note from past experience, whether it is a private corporate board or a crown corporation, that once someone is appointed to one board, that person is seen as credible and is then appointed to other boards. One merely needs to look at The Globe and Mail each day to see who is being appointed, and then see the long list of boards that the new appointee has been appointed to.

At what point in time can women get an equal foot in the door? At some point in time, the governments have to take certain measures. The measure that my hon. colleague has brought forward is a very reasonable one, and it is in keeping with precedents set by other countries around the world.

Let us look at the record. My colleague was very fair and reasonable in doing an averaging of the number of women appointed to crown corporations. I believe she said it was 27%. I think what the Library of Parliament said was far less than that, less than 20%.

However, let us look at the actual boards. How many women are on the board of Atomic Energy of Canada? The answer is zero. For the National Energy Board, it is 20%. For the Bank of Canada, it is 23% women.

In Canada Post Corporation, we know a lot of posties are women. I think they probably have the direct experience. They could potentially sit on the board. They are good business managers: 18%.

There is the CBC. Both men and women listen to the radio. They can offer sage advice on what would make for good public programming: only 33% for women.

There is the Standards Council of Canada. Women nowadays have all kinds of backgrounds and credentials that they could offer for establishing common standards for the country: a mere 27% are women.

We might be able to defend that there is no necessity for quotas. We might be able to defend that there are so few women on our crown corporations because they are not educated or they do not have the credentials. In my alma mater, the University of Alberta, enrollment in the Alberta School of Business MBA program is 42% women. Maybe that is an indication that there are women of high calibre.

In the University of Alberta faculty of law, the percentage of women enrolled has been a consistent 48% to 51% since the year 2000. I can fully attest that each year the women graduated with the highest percentage of marks from those law schools. Therefore, it is clearly not a matter of women not having the credentials.

Maybe they graduate from university and they do not go on to have any practical experience. I took the time to look at the membership in the law societies across our country. What is the percentage of insured members of the bar in Alberta who are women? It is almost 50%. Almost 2,000 women are registered, practising, insured members of the bar society. In Ontario, almost 7,000 women are practising members of the bar.

Let us look a bit deeper. Maybe they are just new entrants. Maybe this is a new phenomenon that women have decided to enter the professions. Maybe they have the qualifications to actually serve on crown corporations. We look at practising members of the bar in Alberta for 16 to 20 years: 573 women; in Ontario, 2,200 women. Let us look at 26 years and more of women who have practised at the bar: in Alberta, over 700 women; in Ontario, more than 2,400 women.

Therefore, is it a situation where women do not have the qualifications or do not have the experience? One simply raises the question of why the government, in its wisdom, cannot seem to find any qualified women to appoint to its crown corporations.

One of the mechanisms to use, which has been used around the world, is the use of establishing quotas. As my colleague very validly pointed out, around the world various countries have chose mechanisms to make appointments and many of them have chosen specific quotas.

I am deeply troubled in hearing the comment across the way by the member responsible for the Status of Women in suggesting that because my colleague has tabled a bill recommending that there be quotas, that therefore the member does not believe women are qualified. Nothing could be further from the truth. The very reason she has stayed in the House and why she feels it is necessary to bring forward this bill is because there are so many qualified women in the country who are being given short shrift by the government.

In closing, the most important point is the comment made by the government member about the fact that these were stand-alone boards and that the government had nothing to do with them. It is the government that chooses whom to appoint to every federal crown corporation in the country. The members of the government are the ones who make those very choices. In their wisdom, they have decided that they will not look to our chambers of commerce, our places of business, our small businesses, large corporations or to women who are in management to find women who might be able to serve.

It was suggested in a review by the United Nations a few years back that it would serve democracy better around the world if governments would move to ensure greater gender parity in all institutions of government.

Financial Administration ActPrivate Members' Business

2:15 p.m.


Mylène Freeman NDP Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, my colleague from Edmonton—Strathcona touched on a lot of important issues in this debate, and I am pleased to be here to discuss them.

I want to congratulate and thank the member for Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, who worked very hard on this bill. She does an excellent job, not only for women in her riding and in Quebec, but also for all women. I am very proud to have her as a colleague.

The purpose of Bill C-473 is to achieve gender parity on boards of directors of crown corporations within six years, as my colleague from Edmonton—Strathcona mentioned.

After so many years, gender parity is still an issue. It is important to acknowledge the gains and progress made on this issue, but we would be remiss to think that this issue is resolved and that there is nothing more to be done to work towards equality.

In the workforce and elsewhere, women realize that inequality is still deeply entrenched, whether it is in terms of pay or shared responsibilities. We know that women still earn about 70% of what men earn. As for the sharing of responsibilities, more often than not women still do more at home, take more time off to raise children and have more responsibilities. This has a huge impact on equality in our society.

Although women represent half the population, they are far from being equal to men in management, on boards of directors and in politics. We see this in the House of Commons, for example, where only about 25% of MPs are women. This is also the case in provincial and municipal politics. Although there are currently more women premiers than ever before, that does not mean that the number of women in charge of ministries has really increased that much. We really do have a lot of work to do.

For example, in 2012, only 32.8% of the members of Quebec's National Assembly were women. However, women represent 40% of the NDP caucus, something we are proud of. I am proud to chair the NDP women's caucus. There are some really fantastic women in my party on this side of the House. We have that 40% because we went out and recruited women specifically. We worked hard to find female candidates in Quebec, and we encouraged women to run for office.

We must work on achieving better representation, as our party did. As my colleague from Edmonton—Strathcona mentioned, when we form the government, I am certain that we will maintain this representation and that we will achieve parity. That will very much change the way Parliament works.

The situation is even worse in Canada's 84 crown corporations, where 16, or 19%, of the presidents are women. The most recent data indicate that there are 2,000 Canadians who hold positions in more than 200 crown corporations, agencies, board of directors or commissions across the country, and that women are under-represented on boards of directors, where they currently hold 27% of senior management positions. In Quebec, women hold only 24% of management positions and 15% of the seats on boards of directors.

I dream of the day when we will have achieved perfect gender equality at work, in relationships, in politics and in every aspect of society and life, whether private or public. I also hope that this equity really makes a difference in the status of all women and all men, all Canadians and all Quebeckers.

As a woman in politics, I believe it is my duty to support other women, motivate them and, above all, encourage them to reach for the sky. Women in politics have a duty to show the women around them that nothing is impossible and that they can achieve anything they put their minds to.

We really need to support one another to truly understand that we can do anything, be it running a business, sitting on a corporate board or being in politics. We are in dire need of role models. As we can plainly see, women only account for roughly a quarter of people in politics and on corporate boards.

There are too few female role models to look up to, which is why we do not always see ourselves in these roles. We need to encourage one another, and women in politics need to lead by example.

By empowering women and girls, we can make a positive difference in the lives of everyone in the community. I would say that women have been working to achieve equity at least since the time my grandmother was my age.

A first step in that direction would be to support my colleague's bill. She is proposing the following parameters: a target of 30% women two years after the bill is implemented, 40% four years after the bill is implemented, and 50% six years after it is implemented. As the hon. member for Edmonton—Strathcona said, it will not happen in one fell swoop, but over a six-year period.

In addition, this legislative measure will indirectly force crown corporations to expand their search for qualified, effective candidates and to target non-traditional recruitment pools. One reason that it is more difficult to find women in positions of power is that recruiters do not look to traditionally female-dominated areas, such as nursing and education, for those skill sets.

They are wonderful, hard-working people. Nobody would suggest they are not qualified. We need to look at everyone who is active in the community, whether we are recruiting for a board or looking for political candidates. If we want to change the decision-making landscape, we need to widen our search parameters when we are looking for decision-makers.

I want to point out that this bill does not apply to businesses, companies, financial institutions or publicly traded companies. It only applies to crown corporations.

New Democrats firmly believe that supporting this bill means supporting women's equality, a government responsibility. Indeed, the government must lead by example and ensure a better gender balance among people managing public finances, to better reflect Canadian reality.

This will also inspire other institutions and businesses, and help them realize that having women on their board gives them a competitive edge. We will only achieve equality once 50% of board members are women. We must keep in mind that board diversity is key to good governance: its positive impact will extend not only to crown corporations, but to society as a whole.

In closing, I want to point out that many countries have adopted incentives, the same way Quebec did.

Quotas like these ones have a big impact because they highlight the importance of this issue. I will conclude by saying that New Democrats remain committed to fighting any type of discrimination against women. I believe this would be a good way to show that equality between men and women is really important.

Financial Administration ActPrivate Members' Business

2:25 p.m.


Rosane Doré Lefebvre NDP Alfred-Pellan, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak to Bill C-473, which was introduced by my colleague from Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles.

As she mentioned at the beginning of her speech, she had introduced her bill early this year, but had to reintroduce it because Parliament was prorogued.

I took the opportunity of putting Bill C-473 in one of the mail-outs. I wanted to talk about the fact that it was being introduced. I had an extremely positive response to this bill from the people of Laval.

People were pleased that we were addressing this issue, getting involved and trying to ensure we achieve equality between men and women on our boards. In my area, Laval, people view this bill very positively. I would like to thank my colleague from Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles for introducing it.

Since I was elected, like many of my female colleagues in the House, I have participated in a number of round tables. We go to see many community groups, particularly women's groups, that want to hear about our experience in politics. They want to know how it works and what it takes to get involved in politics. Does one need to have $100,000? Does one need to know the Prime Minister? Some people have no idea how the process works or how to run in a federal election. This surprised me, but I was very pleased to speak about my experience.

I have spoken about my experience many times with the Table de concertation de Laval en condition féminine, or the TCLCF. When I spoke to these women's groups, they often told me that they did not know what they could do.

Mr. Speaker, if I told you to close your eyes and imagine what a politician looks like to you, you would likely imagine a white male between the ages of 50 and 60.

When I played that little game with groups of women, most said exactly the same thing. That is what we see in our heads. The image is etched in our minds. That needs to change. It is very hard to find women to enter politics. We have to seek them out. For every woman we try to reach, there are 10 men lining up to take the job, each saying we should choose him. It is very difficult. This is firmly entrenched.

Accordingly, I believe that Bill C-473 presents an excellent opportunity for us to come together and break the glass ceiling above our heads.

Financial Administration ActPrivate Members' Business

2:30 p.m.


The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The hon. member for Alfred-Pellan will have seven minutes left to conclude her remarks the next time the bill is before the House.

However, since it is 2:30 p.m., the House stands adjourned until next Monday at 11 a.m. pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 2:30 p.m.)