Mr. Speaker, as both a woman and a member of the NDP, I am pleased to support Bill C-473, which was introduced by the hon. member for Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles. This bill is designed to ensure that crown corporations have balanced representation.
I would like to talk about my own experience in politics. In 2009, I had the opportunity to run in a municipal election as a candidate for Project Montréal, a party in the Island of Montreal that encouraged women to run in municipal politics. That was my first experience, and then I had the opportunity to run again, this time for the NDP. The NDP encourages women to run for politics, and we can see the results.
That led us—the caucus and me, as a female politician—to think about the obstacles that keep some women from going into politics. The ripple effect from the 2011 election and the fact that many women ran for political office is proof of the NDP's desire to encourage women to join various fields of endeavour. All of that relates to Bill C-473.
Government is often regarded as a mover and innovator when it comes to building a better society, and this bill does just that. It sets out principles that would allow Canadian crown corporations to gradually work towards better gender parity.
We need to do this. Women have come a long way in recent decades, but there is still a long way to go. The document titled Women in Canada 2010-2011, drafted by Statistics Canada and Status of Women Canada, notes that there is greater representation of women in management positions. In 2009, women represented 37% of those employed in management positions, up from 30% in 1987. However, women have greater representation in lower-level management positions as compared to upper management positions. In 2009, women held 31.6% of upper management positions, but 37.4% of management positions at other levels.
There is still progress to be made, and it is not because women are not qualified for the job. The latest statistical profile from Statistics Canada shows that more women are completing post-secondary studies, are very well educated and can rise to the challenge.
Mr. Speaker, my riding of LaSalle—Émard is lucky to be represented by a woman, and furthermore, the mayor of the riding is also a woman. Several municipal councillors are women, and that is also the case in the Sud-Ouest borough, which is next to my riding. More and more women are rising to the challenge and answering the call. That has to continue. We have to eliminate barriers by establishing progressive policies that will lead to a fairer representation of women in crown corporations.
When the government sets an example with crown corporations, the private sector often follows suit. That is our hope.
An article in today's Globe and Mail notes that women account for 20% of seats in boards of directors, especially those of very large Canadian companies. However, if we consider small, medium-sized and large businesses overall, this statistic drops to 12%. That is really not a lot.
If the government sets an example, as the Quebec government did, by establishing progressive measures leading to increased gender parity in crown corporations, I am sure that private businesses would follow suit.
What is interesting about Quebec's example is that not only did it implement measures, but it also ensured that they produced results. Quebec measures results against goals, studies the barriers that could keep women from executive positions and finds ways to help them overcome some of those barriers.
I want the government and the Minister of Status of Women to show some leadership to ensure that there is balanced representation on boards of crown corporations. This will create a ripple effect and ensure that women—who represent more than 50% of this country's wealth, as we have already heard—have an opportunity to actively participate in running crown corporations and also private companies.
It is time for this government to show some leadership and commit to ensuring that more and more women are able to assume management roles and that they have the means to take on these positions and be involved in politics. By “means”, I do not necessarily mean financial means, although that helps. We must ensure that there are no barriers hindering women's promotion to these positions.
By breaking down these barriers, we would not only be helping Canadian women, but also advancing our society so that it is more just and fair and so that everyone has the opportunity to participate for the greater good. This has been proven in the research that my colleague from Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles did when drafting this bill. It has been shown that diversity, including gender diversity, on governing councils and boards of directors can have a positive impact on debate and dialogue. Diversity also encourages boards to consider all aspects when making decisions and to take into account the experience of every individual on these boards.
A bill to achieve balanced representation on the boards of crown corporations will not only enable women to be promoted to these types of positions, but will also enrich Canadian society as a whole, in many respects.