Christy Clark’s trumped up ‘feminism’

*Please note: The numbers below were based on the information available at that time. Since then, the BC Liberals have released their 2016 donor list, which include a contribution of $5000 from TA Management and $5000 from Holborn Holdings. Both cheques were written on May 5, 2016. This brings the total contributions from Trump Tower developers to Premier Clark and the BC Liberals to more than $236,000.

Originally published in the October 31, 2016 edition of The Tyee.

Premier talks the talk, but fails on real policies that lift up B.C. women

Premier Christy Clark has certainly been getting a lot of attention this past month. From speaking out against Republican candidate Donald Trump to promoting women in public service at ‘We Day’, Clark has dominated headlines with her feminist advocacy.

“It’s just really important that we have the chance to confront [what Donald Trump’s saying], to talk about it and to condemn it, so we can take another step to make sure it is not normalized behaviour.”— Premier Christy Clark, Vancouver Sun, Oct. 14, 2016

“And to girls we need to say, ‘And for you it’s going to be a little bit harder. And you are going to have to take on some of the issues that those women who have gone before you haven’t yet resolved. You have a job to do for another generation.’”— Premier Christy Clark, Vancouver Sun, Oct. 13, 2016

This seems appropriate. Clark is, after all, a female premier and this past week we celebrated Persons Day, when some women in Canada (mainly white) were officially considered “persons” and accordingly awarded the right to be elected, or appointed as was the case in 1929, to every type of political office. But, as with all rights, this comes with responsibilities.

We need more women in politics, and not just because they represent more than half the population. As women cross over from the private sphere to the public, they bring a distinct perspective based on their lived experiences. It is their responsibility to couple their lived experience with the unique power that the office provides.

Let’s look at a quick case study: Mary Ellen Spear Smith was British Columbia’s first female MLA. She won a seat for Vancouver handily in 1918. During her three terms in office, she helped establish minimum wage legislation for women, created welfare options for “deserted wives” and initiated a pension for mothers. I imagine that this must have been incredibly challenging as the first, and only, woman to hold provincial office during that time. But she got it done.

I am addressing Clark because she is a woman. She is also a woman who holds a great deal of power in this province. And there is a great responsibility that comes with this. No doubt Clark has faced a number of challenges — as a woman, as a single mother, as a media personality and as a politician. Yet she has not used her lived experience as a woman to make policy changes that could positively influence women’s lives.

Although Clark is a survivor of assault, her government has not given adequate financial support to sexual assault centres. Women Against Violence Against Women reports their crisis line annually receives calls from 4,000 women, while 200 survivors wait an average of two years for counselling.

Although she is a single mother, child care is still wildly expensive, costing Vancouverites an average of $1,290 each month. In B.C., 83 per cent of lone-parent families are headed by women and one in two B.C. children in lone-parent households live in poverty, yet social assistance rates have not been raised in more than a decade.

Minimum wage is well below the “living wage” in Metro Vancouver of $20.64, and 60 per cent of minimum wage earners in B.C. are women.

Women also make up 70 per cent of the teachers in B.C. However, between ripping up contracts, tying the teachers’ union up in legal battles, stripping the public school budget and closing schools, the Clark government’s treatment of teachers in this province has been abhorrent. As Tom Kertes wrote for The Tyee: “Beliefs about the value of certain kinds of work seem to be at the heart of this dispute. In this case, what’s being devalued is the work of teachers — a mostly women workforce that involves working with, caring for and educating young people.”

Although Clark publicly condemns Trump’s comments about women, her party continues to take money from Trump Tower developers.

Trump Tower is being developed by the Holborn Group, a subsidiary of TA Management, part of the family-owned business started by Malaysian billionaire Datuk Tony Tiah and now run his son Joo Kim Tiah. Together, TA Management and Holborn Holdings have donated more than $226,690 to the BC Liberals*.

The project was originally to be developed under the Ritz-Carlton name, but in 2013 it was announced that Trump’s brand would adorn the building. That same year, Holborn Holdings wrote a cheque for $50,000 to the BC Liberals*. Clark is publicly calling for widespread condemnation of Donald Trump, while her party receives donations from Trump Tower developers.

So how does Clark reconcile all this? Is it all just an elaborate public relations exercise designed to appropriate the politics of feminism with no commitment to actually using the power she, as premier, has?

I think we have our answer — this autumn the B.C. legislature sits empty and the BC Liberals continue to collect donations while cutting funding to services that disproportionately affect women.

Premier Clark, you said it yourself. You have a job to do for another generation — you have a responsibility. Time to get to work.

11 Responses to “Christy Clark’s trumped up ‘feminism’”

  1. Ev says:

    It is time for All POLITICIANS to be held accountable for what they say they will do!! Both Provincially AND FEDERALLY!!!

  2. Patrick Spencer says:

    I find this unacceptable behavior to women, while claiming to say feminist. Cut funding for women based programs, collect funds from Trump, who said that women are below men, and take donations from him. I hope she stops the transmoutain pipeline. With a tug boat sinking, and dumping fual, that she said it didn’t affect the environment, and then a barge flipped over, and then nothing affected the environment. Just wait for a tanker hitting ground, and dumping oil probably say, no affect to the environment. 😠 get your priorities for our women and environmental in order for our province. This is unaprorpiette behavior.

  3. Evelyn Wedley says:

    Premier Clark may talk against Trump but I see a lot of similarities

  4. Jean Clayton says:

    We are not all “middle class”. This way of thinking (and campaigning) leaves out so many people, so many children, so many women. That’s what came to me when I read the first part of this article.
    The second part, about Trump donations to the Liberals in B.C. was horrifying. Thanks for telling, though.

  5. christopher says:

    what about visible minorities because they are treated like 2nd class citizens in this country. I are subjected to overt, systematic and institutional racism in Canada and the private sector and government is doing nothing about for many decades. I would like a public inquiry and financial compensation for myself and for many other people of color in Canada who have faced this reality with the media, the police, CSIS/RCMP/CSEC, Canadians, private sector and government. I want justice. You are not doing a good job representing visible minorities in your province especially when comes to women and I am black man who have faced the reality of racism and abuse of power by my own government for over 30 years.

  6. janethudgins says:

    Ohhh, for a real woman in power in this country!

    Like so many other women who have become leaders through the political fraternity, Clark has betrayed all other women. To do it she fell in with the right wing boys and lied about her politics; she’s a Socred, far removed from a Liberal. And her interest in all constituents is anti-feminine. She ran on a ‘family first’ platform then promptly cut and withheld funds for all social services. But, we knew she was not interested in the welfare of her constituents because she had done all this before as minister of both education and children.

    Poor fools us. We let another neoliberalist spam us into years of deprivation and utter betrayal to women.

    • Anna says:

      Well said janethudgins! Initially I felt hopeful about a woman being elected premier, but very soon after, I recognized Clark as a useless turd of a representative. All the average folks in this province have been betrayed, not just women. She’s just a corporate puppet who, amongst all her other political deficiencies, is welcoming in environmental destruction. Fracking… oil tankers… pipelines… Fracking especially as it causes earthquakes and poisons underground water. Just imagine the enormous insanity of an industry that thinks it’s okay to cause earthquakes and poison well water! It’s hard to have any optimism at all about such a leader and now we have Hitler raised from the dead and voted into power by idiot America.

    • Louise Huneck says:

      You absolutely nailed it.Christy Clark is a total disappointment. Apparently she received a standing ovation at some recent meeting of business executives in Nanaimo undoubtedly campaign contributors thanking her.

  7. Jack Do says:

    Time to get a new government that represents the wishes of British Columbia, no donations required, just a vote.

  8. Jay Rangel says:

    Tragic that the assessment of our beloved Premier’s pathetic and hypocritical performance is “Right On”! A lot pf empty talk and absolutely no action………..evidenced by the empty Government seats in the Legislature this Fall while collecting big donations from Trump and his allies. (It takes considerable gall to excoriate Trump’ and his horrible surrogates on one hand and happily accept his large contributions with straight smiley face on the other)Hopefully we are not condemned to another four LOOOng years of Government by Obfuscation, Photo-Op and Pipe Dreams!

  9. Pat McDowell says:

    She has also cut funding to transition houses…

    She touts her “feminism” when it will help her, but is really just one of the boys.

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