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Wendy McElroy

We deserve equality of opportunity, not of outcome

Quebec Senator Céline Hervieux-Payette wants to force corporations, parent Crown corporations and some financial institutions to have their boards of directors include at least 40 per cent women. She is reintroducing a private member's bill into the Senate to remedy what she views as proof positive of discrimination against women. (A Financial Post survey found that women comprised 14 per cent of directors at the 500 largest corporations in 2009.)Critics of Ms. Hervieux-Payette's plan will bristle at further extending government into private sector decisions. They will point accusingly to the decline in productivity that would result from business decisions based on gender, not merit. Braver voices may even whisper that it is women who are currently privileged under law; it is men who are falling behind.But if the past is prelude, the critics will fall silent at precisely the moment they should speak out most loudly. This is the moment at which the 'gender justice' card is played. A quota system is necessary, it will be argued, because discrimination against women runs rampant throughout Canadian society. Gender justice demands that business elites be forced to pry open 'their clubhouse' door and rectify centuries of exclusion.This is the point of discussion at which it is crucial to not  cede the moral high ground. Ms. Hervieux-Payette is absolutely wrong, both politically and morally. Her bill is a piece of social engineering that ranks genitalia above merit. It is a travesty  that asks parents to legally privilege daughters at the expense of sons. It is also a violation of human rights.Happily, the chance of this bill passing is slight. Nevertheless, its best chance lies in the mistaken belief that it represents justice.  On its surface, a demand for the 'fair' representation of women throughout society sounds like a call for equality and justice. It… Read More