The F-word and the Canadian Government

Feminism has become the latest buzz word for the new Canadian government.

Many Canadians and the world witnessed the Prime Minister of Canada inadvertently “elbowing” female NDP MP Brosseau. Since then the term feminism, gender equality and gender based violence has been thrown around left, right and center. However, after many of you saw the footage, I think it is quite apparent there was no maliciousness and it was unintentional. Prime Minister Trudeau has since then publically apologized for his behavior and actions. Sadly, the media and much of the opposition want to use this accident to discredit Prime Minister Trudeau’s support for feminism.

What they are not talking about is why the confrontation took place, which is when a conservative MP appeared to be blocked by oppositional NDP MP’s, so the vote on the physician-assisted suicide bill could commence. This is when PM Trudeau got out of his seat in attempt to remove the blockade and have MP Brown seated. Amidst the Prime Minister’s attempt, female MP Brosseau was inadvertently elbowed by the Prime Minister. While, I think it safe to say in hindsight PM Trudeau should have stayed seated and allowed those ‘adults’ to do their jobs respectfully.

However, from that point on the Canadian government circus began. NDP leader Mulcair began screaming and yelling at PM Trudeau, “What kind of man elbows a woman. You’re pathetic” repeatedly as the PM went to apologize when he realized he may have elbowed Brosseau. However, what I found even more alarming was NDP MP Niki Ashton’s statement which addressed the public, House of Commons and PM Justin Trudeau after the incident (see video link below).

Although, MP Niki Ashton’s speech could have been seen as an impactful one – but it was not because her point of reference was the wrong one to use.

As a feminist, an advocate and researcher of victims of abuse I was quite disheartened and frankly angered by her statement in the House of Commons. She stated that “If we apply a gendered lens, it is very important that we recognize that young women in this space need to feel safe to come here and work here.” While that is true, she manipulated the situation and used feminism in her attempt to discredit the PM. If we applied a “gendered lens” (another buzz word) it is still evident that the incident was not directly related to female safety. MP Brosseau was not targeted by the PM because she was a woman, it was simply an accident.

More importantly, does Niki Ashton know how many young girls and women are under constant scrutiny when they report abuse? How many of them are questioned about the validity of the abuse they have endured or still enduring? How many are never believed? Niki Ashton’s statement in the House of Commons is the very crux of why many young girls and women claims of abuse are dismissed, ignored or not believed.

The meaning of feminism is for equality, for the rights of both men and women to be respected. I am constantly defending feminism and her statement made it just that much harder. Feminism is not about being boisterous or making unwarranted claims or ignoring all other elements to fit your personal agenda.

As a woman who sits in the House of Commons she has the power to give voice to young girls and women, to inspire and to make change – she is a role model. I urge her and all the other members of parliament not to use the victims of abuse or feminism to propagate your own personal and party interests – that is the very opposite of what feminism is truly about.

A personal note to MP Niki Ashton – It was through the hard work of feminism and feminist that has given you the opportunity to sit in the House of Commons today. Please respect feminism – particularly if you choose to use feminism as the backbone for your arguments in the House of Commons.

A reminder to all our Members of Parliament, remember who you work for – not yourself, not your party but the public. With this epic charade that occurred in the House of Commons, you lost sight of what you were all there for. This is your time to serve your people with respect and dignity as you are the representatives of Canada.

Video footage link to “incident” that took place in House of Commons

MP Niki Ashton’s addressing the House of Commons

Sunny Mangat

Twitter mangat_sunny


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