In the same manner that Canada’s prime minister, Justin Trudeau, brought his country’s commitment to women’s rights and gender equality to Washington in February, Canada’s ambassador to the U.S., David MacNaughton, brought the issue to Atlanta this past week.
Wrapped in a cloak of goodwill stressing the mutual dependence of the U.S. and Canada economically as well as militarily, Mr. MacNaughton praised Canada’s efforts to bring more women into its governing institutions including its cabinet and its support of a pro-woman shift in international development assistance policies.
During an interview with Global Atlanta following a reception of the World Affairs Council of Atlanta in Buckhead where he engaged in a dialogue with retired Atlanta Fed president and CEO Dennis Lockhart, Mr. MacNaughton expanded on his government’s efforts to push forward a pro-feminist agenda, saying that men should “embrace feminism.”
The roundtable discussion in Washington including U.S. and Canadian female executives soon would bear results, Mr. MacNaughton told Global Atlanta without specifically referring to the United States Council for the Advancement of Women Entrepreneurs and Business Leaders that was agreed to in Washington.
The Washington accord trails initiatives already taken by the Consulate General of Canada in Atlanta such as the Inaugural Women in Business — North America Summit, which drew to the Georgia Institute of Technology some 550 executives in June last year and is to be replicated in Atlanta in the fall.
Mr. MacNaughton also told Global Atlanta that he supported the CA$150 million aid to be dedicated to women-related programs over the next five years proposed by International Development Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau, and he endorsed the remarks Canada’s foreign minister, Chrystia Freeland, made in a groundbreaking speech about setting a “clear and sovereign course,” which criticized “the narrow pursuit of national self-interest,” saying that “the law of the jungle led to nothing but carnage and poverty.”
He added that he had a personal stake in expanding female initiatives and the safety of the planet on account of his four daughters.
“We are concentrating to get more women in science and engineering fields. The results are beginning to show that we are getting more women into those programs these days,” he said. “And we know that if you don’t do that the barriers for women remain.”
While underscoring Canada’s pro-feminist initiatives, he acknowledged that Canada’s First Nation peoples, especially women, have suffered as they experience rapidly changing modes of living brought on by modern lifestyles and economic reversals.
He cited Jody Wilson-Raybould, Canada’s minister of justice of Canada, as a potent symbol for changing politics around Canada’s indigenous populations and women.
A member of the Wai Kai Nation, she is the first Indigenous person to be named to that post. Before entering Canadian federal politics, she was the crown prosecutor of British Columbia and treaty commissioner and regional chief of the B.C. Assembly of First Nations.
Ms. Wilson-Raybould is spearheading a plan to update sections of Canada’s criminal code including provisions to expand its sexual assault laws.
To learn more about the Inaugural Women in Business — North America Summit, click here.
Atlanta-based freelance writer Ms. Ritu Gurha Lisso assisted Phil Bolton with the reporting of this article.