Statement by Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff on 40th anniversary of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women in Canada

December 7, 2010

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff made the following statement on the 40th anniversary of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women in Canada:

“Forty years ago today, on December 7th, 1970, the historic Royal Commission on the Status of Women tabled its ground-breaking recommendations in the House of Commons, paving the way for greater equality for Canadian women.

“The Commission, which played a major role in defining the status of women as a legitimate social problem, formed the basis for much-needed change in the areas of pay equity, maternity leave, birth control, day care, women in managerial positions, pensions, and prohibiting ‘gender’ and ‘marital status’ as grounds for discrimination by employers.

“Today, as we reflect on women’s progress over the decades, knowing that most of the 167 recommendations have been partially or fully implemented, there are challenges that still remain before all women achieve true equality.

“Unfortunately, women’s equality has taken a step back under the Conservative government’s regressive policies, which have led to a growing gender gap in this country.

“Canada’s federal government must lead by example by adopting policies and programs that help more women and girls to participate in all aspects of society. Only then will the promise of gender equality be fully realized.

“On behalf of the Liberal Party of Canada and our parliamentary caucus, I call on all Canadians to stop and reflect on the status of women in today’s society, celebrate how far we’ve come and commit to continuing the battle for equality of opportunity for all Canadians.”

Liberal Status of Women Critic Anita Neville added:

“We are fortunate today as many women enjoy a prosperity and freedom their mothers, grandmothers and great-grandmothers could only dream of. But we must continue our fight.

“Women have fallen behind under this government. The Conservatives have turned a woman’s fundamental right to equal pay for equal work into something up for grabs at the collective bargaining table, and have banned all government-funded research and advocacy into gender equality.”

Chair of the Liberal Women’s Caucus Lise Zarac added:

“Whether through the cancellation of the Court Challenges Program or the shutting down of the Sisters in Spirit program, the Conservative government has continually undermined civil society’s ability to improve gender equality in Canada.

“On this momentous anniversary, let us remember that equality will only be achieved when the federal government upholds its responsibilities to the women of Canada.”