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Trudeau salutes feminism, Tories promote female MPs on International Women’s Day

Bardish Chagger, Minister of Small Business and Tourism, stands in the House of Commons during Question Period in Ottawa, Monday, March 7, 2016.

FRED CHARTRAND/THE CANADIAN PRESS

International Women's Day is driving the agenda on Parliament Hill Tuesday, with each party marking it in their own ways.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke to International Women's Day in a Globe and Mail op-ed Tuesday, where he writes that gender equality represents an opportunity and feminism is not a word to be afraid of.

"Feminism is about equal rights and opportunities for men and women, about everyone having the same choices without facing discrimination based on gender. Equality is not a threat, it is an opportunity," wrote Mr. Trudeau.

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The Prime Minister will also attend Question Period today, followed by an event to highlight the international day with Ministers Patty Hajdu, Judy Foote and Bill Morneau.

The Conservatives will have only women stand up in Question Period today, according to interim Opposition Leader Rona Ambrose's office. Ms. Ambrose will also mark the day by highlighting the plight of the Yazidi women of Iraq, who have been persecuted by the Islamic State terror group, in the leaders' exchange during Question Period.

"As Canadian women, we are fortunate to live in a society where our rights are recognized and our contributions are valued. However, having lived in developing countries, I have seen first-hand what it means to be a girl or a woman with no rights. As the leader of a political party, I feel a special responsibility to create new opportunities for young women, both here and abroad," said Ms. Ambrose in a statement Tuesday.

Ms. Ambrose will also be shadowed Tuesday by 12-year-old Lillian Strand, who will join her at a variety of International Women's Day events around Ottawa.

The NDP is marking International Women's Day by launching a new website – www.equalseatsforwomen.ca – aimed at promoting legislation designed to bring gender parity to the House of Commons. The bill, tabled by NDP MP Kennedy Stewart, would implement a modest reduction in the post-election rebate political parties receive if they fail to present a gender-balanced candidate list. Currently, political parties are eligible for a rebate from Elections Canada of up to 50 per cent of their campaign expenses.

NDP Status of Women critic Sheila Malcolmson also issued a statement on Tuesday, drawing attention the needs of vulnerable Canadian women.

"Indigenous women are still seven times more likely to be murdered than non-Indigenous women. Poverty rates among single mothers and senior women are increasing and women continue to make only 77 per cent of what men earn for work of equal value," read the statement. "The NDP believes the federal government has a crucial role to play in advancing gender equality. Strong social programs, including access to affordable housing, childcare, healthcare, and legal aid, create equality for women."

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About the Author
Parliamentary reporter

Michelle Zilio is a reporter in The Globe and Mail’s Ottawa bureau. Previously, she was the associate producer of CTV’s Question Period and a political writer for CTVNews.ca. Michelle has also worked as a parliamentary reporter for iPolitics, covering foreign affairs, defence and immigration, and as a city desk reporter at the Ottawa Citizen. More

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