Criticizing Caroline Mulroney doesn't amount to sexism
So, Lisa MacLeod would have us believe that Ontario Attorney General Caroline Mulroney is coming in for a lot of criticism over the Ford government’s use of the notwithstanding clause because she’s a woman — and a Conservative to boot.
As the social services minister put it on Monday: “As a female politician, particularly as Conservatives, we tend to get the wrath a little more than the Liberals or New Democrats. I feel the attacks on my colleague, particularly in the last week and a half, have been beyond the pale.” Media reports, she added, were “borderline sexist and misogynistic.”
Her Conservative colleague, MPP Lindsey Park, also bristled at the fact that others have questioned why Mulroney has not taken her father’s advice — the former prime minister is not a “fan” of the clause — as further proof of sexism in action.
There’s no question female politicians often face unfair attacks simply because they are women. But MacLeod and Park have got it badly wrong here.
Mulroney has felt the sting of criticism particularly keenly because, as her critics have noted, her role as attorney general means she has a special duty to uphold the rule of law.
Indeed, that’s why 400 legal professionals signed an open letter to Mulroney on Sunday urging her to oppose Premier Doug Ford’s decision to invoke the notwithstanding clause for the first time ever in Ontario, brushing aside a judge’s ruling based on Charter rights.
“(Your) office is assigned to champion and safeguard the fundamental principles of the rule of law and the due process in Ontario, and the rights of the people,” they reminded her — to no avail.
Further, there’s scant evidence that Conservative women in politics face more sexism than do their New Democratic and Liberal colleagues. Both NDP and Liberal women have been viciously attacked: Consider former NDP MPP Cheri DiNovo’s revelation in the legislature last year that she’d been told “to put a gun in my mouth.”
Finally, reminding Mulroney of her father’s beliefs is no more sexist than drawing our current prime minister’s attention to the views of his late father. In fact, Mulroney invited comparisons when she played up her father’s fame and name (rather than her married name, Lapham) and brought him out to campaign for her last May.
There’s no question misogyny must be countered at every opportunity. But conflating criticism with sexism for political purposes does all female politicians a disservice.
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