Moms change diapers, Dads form leaders: Peter MacKay's emails to staff

Moms change diapers, Dads form leaders: Peter MacKay

Justice Minister criticized for outdated stereotypes of parental roles.


OTTAWA — Justice Minister Peter MacKay raised eyebrows in his department with two very different tributes to female and male employees for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day this year.

Emails obtained by The Canadian Press show that in May, MacKay saluted mothers in the department for holding down two full-time jobs — at home and at work.

“By the time many of you have arrived at the office in the morning, you’ve already changed diapers, packed lunches, run after school buses, dropped kids off at daycare, taken care of an aging loved one and maybe even thought about dinner,” MacKay said of the moms in a staff-wide memo that went out to thousands of employees before Mother’s Day.

The email didn’t get much reaction internally until the Father’s Day version arrived a month later.

It made no mention of any household duties, but said the men were “shaping the minds and futures of the next generation of leaders.”

“… Needless to say, it can also be daunting to consider the immense and life-long influence we have over our children,” MacKay wrote. “Our words, actions and examples greatly mould who they will become.

“We can only hope that the moments we spend teaching, guiding and loving them will sustain them throughout their lives.”

The Mother’s Day message does not touch on the influence the women have on their children’s futures. In both instances, MacKay referred to the fact that he is the father of a toddler.

MacKay’s office did not respond to a request for an interview or to take questions by phone.

“With regards to the messages to Department of Justice staff, the minister takes every opportunity to thank the staff for their contribution to the department and to advancing justice issues on behalf of all Canadians,” spokesperson Paloma Aguilar said in an email.

Liberal trade critic Chrystia Freeland calls the difference in the email messages striking and says they play on outdated stereotypes of parental roles.

“I think that particularly in families like the ones that were addressed by these emails … I simply don’t think that reflects the modern Canadian family and is demeaning to both mothers and fathers,” said Freeland.

“Both mothers and fathers change diapers and worry about dinner and both mothers and fathers, at least we try to mould the minds of our children and to set an example through our own actions.”

MacKay has faced criticism recently over comments he made on the roles of parents in the context of the dearth of female judges in Canada.

“At early childhood, there’s no question I think that women have a greater bond with their children,” he said Thursday.

The Toronto Star reported last week that MacKay rankled a group of Ontario lawyers during a private meeting when he said that women weren’t applying for judge jobs.

The Star, quoting lawyers at the meeting, said MacKay suggested that women didn’t want to join the bench because they feared being sent out travelling on a circuit court.

On Sunday, MacKay took to Facebook to say that he did not make the comments attributed to him.

“These allegations are simply untrue and in fact the opposite of everything that I said,” MacKay wrote.

“Rather, in addressing a few dozen lawyers I took the opportunity to encourage MORE women and minorities to apply to be judges, to enable the federal government to promote them to the bench and thus to better reflect the diversity that is Canada today. That was the intent and tone of my remarks.”

Gender issues are always a factor in electoral politics. Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau has tried to stake territory with women voters by announcing all his candidates must commit to vote pro-choice on matters touching on abortion in the Commons.

The Conservatives, meanwhile, have promised to introduce income-splitting for families. The plan would allow a family where one spouse makes much less than the other to pool earnings to reduce taxable income.

The party’s base includes many social conservatives who strongly support such a proposal, arguing it removes tax discrimination against families and would provide more economic flexibility to parents.

“Each family embraces their personal responsibilities and the challenges in their own way and I respect that,” MacKay said in his Facebook post.

“Again, this reflects the fabric that is our country and that is something we all value and share.”


Moms change diapers, Dads form leaders: Peter MacKay

  1. Given who his father was, I imagine father’s day is a psychological minefield for Mr. MacKay anyway. Don’t judge the snivelling, anti-woman loser too harshly, Canadians.

    • Judging him too harshly would be impossible.

  2. Peter MacKay is 48 years old. He grew up with equality.

    He’s in politics.

    How could he be this stupid?

    • Its why he rose to power, no ethics, no morals, no clear thinking, no rationality….a great back room puppet.

      Hidden back room power money, lobbyists make sure they get enough idiots that give us illusions that over sized blaoted and wasteful governemtn is good for us.

      When all the hidden, protectionism and real taxes and statism greed, costs us in higher costs and less jobs as a tax inflated economy needs uncompetitive wages and jobs leave.

      And media, manage the people to hide the deception. Its all about our loss of economic liberty to Orwellian corrupt statism. We are raised never to question the most expensive item in our lives, our own governments and their puppet politicians putting on shows of belligerence in parliament, for our appeasements and the illusion that they work for us.

      Voting in Canada is like who gets more of our money for doing less and less. Not one option for more efficient, more effective, less waste governance on the ballot. Its why at CBC with the corporate welfare cuts, they will post blind Harper hate and slander, while censoring the factual comments.

      And you average Canadian voter isn’t that smart, too easy to lead actually.

  3. Whatever the reaction in the media, or in the legal circles….what MacKay said is still true, even if it does appear to be unfair.

    If a lawyer wants to be made partner, he/she has to bring in some pretty hefty bucks to the law firm. This usually entails working 60 to 80 hours per week. This doesn’t mean women won’t be judges, but it does have the added burden of trying to raise children with that workload included. It is also true that mothers have a special bond to young kids…you cannot deny it.

    I think Mackay’s main problem…..was being too brutally honest. That is not allowed today. He should have known better.

    • Petey and Ricky are living with the neanderthals where house husbands were unheard of.

      • Agreed.

        In fact I believe our Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is….um….female

        Mackay taking another shot is he?

    • Heh.
      Try reading these stories before commenting – you’ll look moderately less foolish.

    • Nothing like perpetuating such a highly erroneous myth.

    • Sorry, but you’re wrong on this. You’re letting MacKay distract you from the main issue. What MacKay & this government are trying to hide is that they appoint fewer women than other governments. This is not about childcare or the burdens placed on mothers raising children. It’s about the fact that Conservative governments appoint fewer judges than Liberal governments. This has been measured by numbers – eg. mathematical facts which cannot be denied.

  4. This wouldn’t happen to be what they call a BoZo Eruption, would it Pete ? I wonder how many other Con MPs sent these kind of letters to other public servants.

  5. Anyone who works in MacKay’s or any Conservative MP’s office is only there to bow and scrape, not show anything that resembles leadership.

  6. I am a small c conservative-libertarian. But this is why I don’t vote Conservative-Religion. They are backwards like dodo birds. Even want to manage womens bodies for more future taxpayers in their statism greeds.

    Reality, the Conservative party should be renamed as the Religious Statism Party as they want to manage women like breeding cows. Hey Cons, time to evolve into this century, pro-choice abortion is the only respectful choice. Hey, if Conservatives had their way they would ban vasectomies too.

    Its hwy I stopped voting Conservative, as they are not very conservative. More statism than anything.

    Fact is as a 50s male, I cook, and I clean, and I do stuff right along side with my woman as a peer, a loving friend, and not as a breeding slave. I even go shopping with her to help.

    Its a rewarding relationship to have women as peers, friends, and not as objects. MacKay, Harper, Mulcair and others should try it. Its a great social experience to cook with your wife if your not a religious Neanderthal.

  7. Funny too, Mackay married an attractive Muslim woman, probably pretty submissive…..

    The way Mackay likes his women.

    Women, please don’t vote for this idiot next time. He thinks government should manage your womb, you be barefoot and pregnant…a real piece of work. Doesn’t even want female judges to assess female views.

    Make me wonder if MacKay is a closet Islam fundamentalist.

    • Dave777 From a liberated male, except for “my woman”, to stereotyper and now to a Donald Trump birther all in two posts.

  8. So, Dads form leaders? Mr MacKay, it’s too bad that your father fell down on the job.

  9. “And on the 6th day, Gaia created men and women to be exactly the same, except for their fun parts.”

    Or so says the Vagican.

    Feminism is just applied creationism, or neo-Lysenkoism.

    Meanwhile, science says men and women are completely different.

    Specifically, science found that women have more “Sensitivity, Warmth, and Apprehension” and men have more “Emotional stability, Dominance, Rule-consciousness, and Vigilance”. Sounds alot like what MacKay said.

    But enough of this sciency nonsense. If feminism and science collide, obviously feminism wins out. Otherwise my feminist creds will be seriously compromised and I wont have a chance of going out with that hot secretary in legal.


  10. LoL, MacKay is economically living in the 70’s, because today, it’s the Dads who are changing the diapers.

    …and, talkin’ ’bout diapers:
    “Politicians and diapers need to be changed often … and for the same reasons.”