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Women’s History Month: How will you claim your place?

October is Women’s History Month in Canada and the theme this year is Claim Your Place — a bold call to action for women across Canada to keep pushing for inclusion and gender equality. It is a time to remember the achievements of other women in history and to support those around us. Women’s History Month is celebrated in March in the United States, Australia and some other countries and often coincides with International Women’s Day on March 8. However, in Canada, the month of October is reserved in recognition of the achievements of Women, coinciding with Person’s Day, which is celebrated on October 18.

Person’s Day is in recognition of the Person’s case of 1927, when five prominent Canadian women took on the Supreme Court of Canada and asked the following question: Does the word “person” in section 24 of the B.N.A Act include women? After five weeks, the Supreme Court said they were not. This answer was not satisfactory to the women who would later be known as the Famous Five. They took their case to the Privy Council of Great Britain, which at the time was the highest court in Canada. On Oct.18 1929, the Lord Chancellor of Great Britain answered the appeal by saying the word person should, in fact, include women.

This ultimately changed the status of women in Canada, giving them the right to be appointed to the Senate of Canada and increased participation in political and public life, including voting rights. The Famous Five were women that actively looked for reform movements in a quest for changing equality. Their names were Emily Murphy, Louise McKinney, Irene Parlby, Nellie McClung, and Henrietta Muir Edwards — they were journalists, magistrates and politicians. As Canada celebrates 150 years, this Person’s Day will also carry the #claimyourplace theme and will recognize women who have helped to shape Canadian democracy. There will be the annual Governor General’s Awards in Commemoration of the Person’s Case that will honour Canadians who advance gender equality.

The awards have been given out since 1979 and include a long list of past recipients from various places across Canada. This year, there are five recipients, including someone from the youth category (age range of 15- 30). These women have made an outstanding impact to the lives of women and girls in meeting the goals of gender equality in Canada.

Over the past 150 years, countless woman have made their mark in history and found their voice. They have fought against inequality, helped reduce the pay wage gap, argued for better health services and for reproductive rights. Throughout all of these struggles, women have lifted each other up, helping one another reach their full potential. One can only hope this continues over the next decade.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, a self-proclaimed feminist responsible for the country’s first gender-equal cabinet, issued a statement for Women’s History Month in which he remarked, “Our government is working hard to advance gender equality and ensure that all people, no matter their gender, have the opportunity to realize their full potential. We are working to strengthen women’s leadership in business and government and to provide young women with the opportunities they need to advance their careers.”

Throughout the month of October, honour those women and girls who inspire you by using the hashtag #ClaimYourPlace . Post inspirational photos, videos or stories on social media and share them with Women’s Post!

Let us know how you will #ClaimYourPlace in the comments below

Australian politician breastfeeds newborn in Senate – and resigns

Back in May, Australian politician Larissa Waters breastfeed her newborn baby on the floor of the Senate — while she presented a motion to her colleagues!

Technically, politicians in Australia have been allowed to breastfeed in the Senate since 2003; however, no one has taken advantage of this rule, most likely due to the stigma associated with showing your breast in public. Just last year, at Waters’ urging, Parliament changed their rules to allow breastfeeding in their chamber. Parliament also altered laws that allowed mothers or fathers to enter the Senate to help take care of their children while their partners attended to their public duties.

Of course, after video of Waters presenting her motion while breastfeeding went viral (for good reason), there was plenty of criticism. Many people thought it wasn’t polite or respectful for Waters to be feeding her child while in Parliament. Someone actually compared the act to urinating in the Chambers!

Women’s Post won’t go into the different ridiculous and misogynist reasons these critics gave to try and dissuade Waters from breastfeeding while at work. Instead, our staff would like to commend this courageous politician for proving that women shouldn’t be discriminated against for simply having motherly responsibilities.

Waters, unfortunately, was forced to resign from her position earlier this week amid a discovery that she was actually a dual national. Apparently, Waters was born in Winnipeg to Australian parents and despite the fact that she has never lived in this country or applied for Canadian citizenship, she is still considered Canadian. Australia’s constitution says that a “citizen of a foreign power” cannot be voted a representative at Parliament, so she was forced to step back from her position.

Australia should lament. They are losing a great politician and champion of women’s rights.

While this is an absolute shame, I’m sure many Canadians are proud they can call this woman a sister. She is a role model for women who want to get into politics, but may share a fear surrounding the time commitment and the challenges of balancing motherhood and public service. It’s the little things like this that may persuade women to enter into politics.

Either way, let’s hope Waters’ actions encourage other female politicians to break the stigma and breastfeed on the floor of Parliament.

 

What do you think of Waters’ breastfeeding in the Senate chambers? Let us know in the comments below!

Senate pushes forward Infrastructure Bank

Wednesday, the Senate passed legislation that would allow for the creation of the Infrastructure Bank. According to the bill passed, this corporation’s purpose is to “invest in, and seek to attract private sector and institutional investments to, revenue-generating infrastructure projects.”

Bill C-44 allows government to implement certain provisions to the federal budget, including making room for the much-talked-about Infrastructure Bank. The bank will help structure proposals and negotiate agreements for infrastructure projects across the country. They will receive unsolicited proposals from the private sector or institutional investors, provide advice to all levels of government, and monitor the state of infrastructure in Canada.

As Bruce McCuaig, Executive Advisor of the Privy Council, said Tuesday at a seminar on alternative financing, “If we were to build all infrastructure on public balance sheets, we wouldn’t be able to get there.”

The seminar McCuaig spoke at Tuesday was hosted by the Transit Alliance, a non-political organization for those who work in the transit and infrastructure industry, students, or those interested in transit and transit planning in cities across Southern Ontario. Much of the discussion centered around whether or not the Infrastructure Bank is going to be useful for municipalities.

The biggest challenge is that Bill C-44 only outlines the recommendations and the broad powers the Infrastructure Bank holds. There are still quite a few details to work out, for example how the Infrastructure Bank will balance public and private interests. The general consensus is that the bank will provide opportunities for municipalities, but that it should focus on projects that are having a harder time finding funding.

As the bank starts to develop and grow, more information will become available.

What do you think of the Infrastructure Bank? Let us know in the comments below!

Captive whales and dolphins in Canada may be banned in our lifetime

Imagine living your entire life in a bathtub with glass walls. You can barely turn around and other people watch you all day in your struggle to get out. You have scars on your body from trying to break out of your confines and are forced to put on a show daily for your jail keepers.

This is the daily life of captive whales and dolphins, intelligent and deeply intuitive species of animals.

Banning whales and dolphins in captivity is an idea that is gaining in public opinion and Canada has the opportunity to follow suit on a federal level. Bill S-203, a private member’s bill tabled by Senator Wilfred Moore that would ban the captivity and breeding of whales and dolphins in Canada, is currently being reviewed before the Senate. The Senate Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans heard the first testimony on Feb. 28. The bill is relatively moderate and would allow existing facilities to keep the animals they already have and use them for research. It would move to ban future cetacean captivity. The bill has been met with mixed reviews with strong partisan support and is being slammed by Marineland and the Vancouver Aquarium, which is no big surprise.

The Vancouver Aquarium has also been the subject of controversy since November when the only two beluga whales at the facility, Aurora, 30, and her calf, Qila, 21, died nine days apart from each other. The Vancouver Park Board voted on March 9 to prohibit the capture and display of whales and dolphins at the Vancouver Aquarium as a result of the beloved belugas’ deaths. The decision has been a subject of controversy with many critics claiming the Park Board shouldn’t intervene in Aquarium affairs, while others believe that respecting the overwhelming support to end whale and dolphin captivity is essential.

Animal Justice is also involved in a case against the aquarium that involved intervening on behalf of animal rights filmmaker, Gary Charbonneau, who created the film Vancouver Aquarium Uncovered. The Vancouver Aquarium filed a lawsuit filed against Charbonneau for violation of copyright law and was partially successful when the judge ordered nearly five minutes of material removed from the film. In May 2016, the Court of Appeal granted the filmmaker an opportunity to appeal the decision and Animal Justice has been allowed to intervene. Last week, they headed to court and the outcome of the case is yet to be determined.

Whale and dolphin captivity has consistently been losing support over the last few years. SeaWorld completing their final entertainment show involving orcas on Jan. 1. and California banned captive orca breeding in 2016. Ontario banned orca sales and breeding in 2015.

In January, Marineland was fined with six counts of animal cruelty. The entertainment agency has not been supportive of the Bill S-203, and has even gone as far to claim that animal rights group, Ontario Captive Animal Watch, is ‘using’ children to push for support of the bill.

It is clear that the the public opinion of whales and dolphins in captivity is changing drastically. The years of ‘Free Willy’ are behind us, and people are becoming more educated and aware of the frightening downfalls of captivity for marine animals. As an animal advocate, it is amazing to believe that in our lifetimes, we may just see Willy really go free and Canada become a leading nation in banning whale and dolphin captivity permanently.