Saturday, February 10, 2007

The prospect of the federal Liberal party barring males from running for Parliament in certain ridings is an egregiously ill-conceived idea, not wholly palatable even to Liberal strategists. The end this proposal advances, increasing the proportion of female members in Parliament, is equally ill-conceived as an end. There is no intrinsic improvement resulting from an estrogenic increase in Parliament. Indeed, the proposal is an attempt by Stephane Dion to try and make good on a promise he made while campaigning to become leader of the Liberals.

Dion's proposal is the latest in a preoccupation with making politics as democratic as possible. The thinking, it seems, is that it doesn't really matter what we do with this country as long as we're the ones doing it. However, every time the governance of this country becomes about who governs rather than how we govern, the country suffers. It is obviously true that good government has as a part good governors and good procedures for government. We don't allow children to govern, nor do we randomly choose citizens. We insist on choosing our leaders to ensure that they will have merit, at least in our eyes. This is, of course, only true to a point. Parliament aims at good government, not the equal representation of women, Hutus, Tutsis, Kurds and lesbian Croat triathletes over 150 pounds.

Barring men from nomination in certain ridings turns Parliament into a venue for social engineering and elaborate displays of our egalitarianism. If the aim is to ameliorate the supposedly patriarchal nature of Canadian politics, then why stop there? The women who make it into Parliament will be white and rich. Maybe a few ridings, such as Parkdale and York West, home to the vaunted Jane and Finch intersection, could only be open to women with pigmentation as dark or darker than Derek Jeter who can produce proof that they are receiving welfare. Barriers to female participation in politics should no doubt be eradicated, but only to the extent that they are unfair. The focus of government should always remain on good government, not an equal share of power for all.

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