Saturday, December 13, 2008

SOW's goal: an auditor-general for feminism

In a discussion held elsewhere JJ of Unrepentant Old Hippie questioned my assertion that the Status of Women wants to make all laws conform to the feminist viewpoint:

She wondered:

Sounds interesting, but what does it mean, exactly? "Conform to the feminist viewpoint"? How can a law against, say, breaking & entering be made to "conform to a feminist viewpoint"?

What the SOW is gunning for is that if it is shown that the Break and Enter law somehow does not sufficiently protect women-- for example,if women are shown to suffer a larger number of Break and Enters than men, a feminist auditor general would force the government to re-write the legislation and make sure there is a feminist-approved outcome.

Let me give a more pertinent example.

SOW calls for there to be measures in every Throne Speech that further the advancement of feminism. For instance, if the government has chosen to make violence against women a priority, the government would have to set out how it intended to do this and what resources it would allocate for this.

Now suppose the budget came up, and there was nothing in that budget to address that feminist priority, a complaint could be launched to a kind of ombudsman or auditor, who would have the power to make the government comply.

Here is a report by Status of Women that proposes exactly what I said.

In this report, a panel recommends that Parliament vote in legislation to create mechanisms of accountability to assure that feminism is advanced in every area of the government. The bill would be divided into two part. The first part would implement a five-year-plan that would allow government departments, etc to implement Gender-Based Analysis, which they define as:

is a management tool that enables study of the direct and indirect effect on women of any measure, policy, legislation or service. The analysis is applied in order to bring about outcomes achieving substantive equality for women.

The second part of the legislation would create the necessary "mechanisms of accountability" that would force the government's hand in implementing feminism in every aspect of the government which would include:

* a complaints mechanism with quasi-judicial powers, including sanctions;

* a Commissioner for Equality for Women or an Ombudsperson for Women who would act as an agent of Parliament - either one would have powers comparable to those of the Canadian Human Rights Commission or the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages. The powers and duties could include annual reporting to Parliament, research, investigation, education, review of systemic issues affecting equality for women, resolution of complaints of systemic discrimination, orders to departments and agencies to take corrective action, review of other government mechanisms for achieving equality for women, and examination of Canada's compliance with obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discriminations against Women;

In other words, we would have a kind of feminist auditor general. Depending on the model used, we could envision a situation where a feminist group could complain about a government policy and an auditor or a human rights tribunal-type agency might agree and force the government to remedy the situation...

Without a democratic vote.

So if the people don't want their tax-dollars to go towards these priorities, and the voters voted for a conservative platform, well tough luck-- the feminist auditor general could overturn all that.