The new Canadian Citizenship Guide: Gender Equality Fail


The Globe and Mail had a piece on the new Canadian Citizenship Guide, including a quote by Historian Margaret Conrad, who had this to say a-boot it:

“It’s kind of like a throwback to the 1950s. It’s a tough, manly country with military and sports heroes that are all men.”

I thought to myself, that can’t be true, can it? So I went about trying to prove to myself that the new document couldn’t be all boys and no girls. Well, it’s a little shocking.

#1: The gender equality section

First, let me reproduce here the entire section on The Equality of Women and Men.

“In Canada, men and women are equal under the law. Canada’s openness and generosity do not extend to barbaric cultural practices that tolerate spousal abuse, ‘honour killings,’ female genital mutilation, or other gender-based violence. Those guilty of these crimes are severely punished under Canada‚Äôs criminal laws.”

That’s it. That’s the whole thing. 4 lines (in the original document) that basically amount to “don’t torture your wife.”

#2: Female and male pronouns

Let’s take a cursory look at the number of times female and male words are mentioned:

With Queen/King Without Queen/King
# female words
(she, her, hers, (*)woman, (*)women(‘s), female, mother, queen)
52 30
# male words
(he, his, him, (*)man, (*)men, male, father, king)
50 43

I found this incredibly surprising. Why? Because I was expecting that frequent mentions of the Queen, gender equality and votes for women would put them way ahead. And yet they only win by 2, mostly because the word “queen” is mentioned 22 times. If you remove “queen” (22) and “king” (7) from the lists, the numbers are 30 for women and 43 for men. And that number still includes the number of times “her” refers to the Queen.

#3: Great Canadians

We’ve come to the most disgusting part of it all. Here’s the proportion of men and women representing the best and brightest of modern Canada. It makes me sick.

(Numbers have been scaled to give an impression of proportional differences.)

Number of male artists mentioned
(3 individuals, plus 7 in the Group of Seven and 10 in Les Automatistes)
Number of female artists mentioned
(2 individuals, plus 6 in Les Automatistes)
Number of male athletes mentioned 6
Number of female athletes mentioned 1
Number of male scientists, thinkers and inventors mentioned 20
Number of female scientists, thinkers and inventors mentioned 0

That last one really turns my stomach. Zero. Goose egg. And yet, why am I not surprised?

Right after the list of great Canadian male discoveries is this paragraph:

“The prosperity and diversity of our country depend on all Canadians working together to face challenges of the future. In seeking to become a citizen, you are joining a country that, with your active participation, will continue to grow and thrive.”

Perhaps “diversity” is a word about which they should spend a bit more time thinking.


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