'The process failed': Associate minister apologizes for awarding prize to controversial essay
The associate minister for the Status of Women is apologizing after the results of an essay contest.
Alberta launched the “Her Vision Inspires” essay contest earlier this year to encourage young women to share their vision for the province, and what they would do if elected to government.
The essay that was awarded third prize has sparked criticism from the opposition NDP and members of the public alike.
Part of the essay reads:
“While it is sadly popular nowadays to think that the world would be better off without humans, or that Albertan children are unnecessary as we can import foreigners to replace ourselves, this is a sickly mentality that amounts to a drive for cultural suicide. The first rule of health for any biological population is their ability to reproduce and pass along their way of life into the future."
“Women are not exactly equal to men. This biological reality is also under attack by present-day delusion. To try to promote that women break into careers that men traditionally dominate is not only misguided, but it is harmful. Such a focus detracts from the languishing unique strength and the truly important role that women have in the preservation of our community, culture, and species.”
The winners of the contest were chosen by Associate Minister for the Status of Women Jackie Armstrong-Homeniuk and a panel of female members of the legislative assembly.
The winning essays were briefly posted online, but that webpage has since been taken down.
Armstrong-Homeniuk released a written statement about the controversial essay on Tuesday.
“The essay contest was intended to reflect a broad range of opinions from young Alberta women on what democracy means for them. While the essay in question certainly does not represent the views of all women, myself included, the essay in question should not have been chosen.
Giving women of all ages a voice is something that I will always stand up for. To young women who aspire to one day have a career in politics, please keep using your voice and advocating for your communities.”
Later in the day, the minister released a second statement:
“Over the last several hours, some of my caucus and cabinet colleagues have raised concerns with me about how such an essay could be selected for an award.
As the Minister for the Status of Women, I want to emphasize that I do not support rhetoric that in any way diminishes the importance of the contributions of over half of Alberta’s population.
It is clear that the process failed, and I apologize for my role in that. The selection of this particular essay and awarding it with third prize was a failure on my part as the head of the judging panel.
Alberta values the contributions of women and newcomers, and we will continue to work towards removing barriers to equality so that all Albertans can enjoy opportunities and success in our province.”
NDP Children’s Services critic Rakhi Pancholi calls the ideas expressed in the essay horrific and reprehensible.
“This notion of a diversity of opinions is being used as a cover for allowing hateful speech to be celebrated by the government. This is not about a diversity of opinions, they’ve actually chosen to celebrate and award an essay that is talking about white nationalist, racist theory,” she said in a news conference on Tuesday.
“There are a number of checks and balances that go in place before something is promoted like this, put up on a website that’s celebrated, and nobody within the UCP stopped and said ‘This is inappropriate.’”
The opposition party isn’t alone in their concerns. Lise Gotell is a gender studies professor at the University of Alberta.
“It really reads like Nazi Germany views on women’s roles,” she told CTV News Edmonton.
She says the views espoused in the essay align with those historically held by fascist governments.
“To see a government even implicitly endorsing the views like those contained in essay three is troubling.”
The ministry refused to confirm who was on the judging panel, or the criteria used.
Political scientist Lori Williams says the government owes the public transparency on the issue.
“Some explanation of what process led to this failure to recognize highly problematic essay,” she said. “I think some answer to those kinds of questions would certainly be welcomed. Because what this currently does is it leaves the impression that that more extreme wing of social conservatism is being embraced and welcomed by the government.”
A spokesperson for Nathan Cooper, the speaker of the Alberta Legislative Assembly issued the following statement on Tuesday:
“Neither the Speaker’s Office nor the Legislative Assembly Office were involved with the selection of the essays in any capacity, including who was on the MLA panel judging the contest.”
“As soon as the content of the 3rd place winner was brought to the Speaker’s attention he immediately made the decision for the content to be removed. The content is abhorrent and does not reflect the views of the Speaker or the Legislative Assembly Office.”
CTVNews.ca Top Stories
The Ottawa woman who former Hedley frontman Jacob Hoggard is convicted of sexually assaulting says she is now suing him for $2.8 million.
Videos of revolts and unrest started to flood the internet when Iranian protestors flocked to the streets in response to the death in custody of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman allegedly detained for wearing her hijab improperly.
This fall, teachers and parents have been sharing photos on social media of do-it-yourself air purifiers that they’ve made for classrooms to help protect kids from COVID-19 — and according to researchers, these low-cost purifiers actually work.
Hockey Quebec says it has lost confidence in Hockey Canada and will not transfer funds to the national organization, while Tim Hortons and Scotiabank have extended sponsorship boycotts.
Nearly all Conservative members of Parliament voted for a bill they say would protect the conscience rights of health professionals when it comes to medical assistance in dying.
North Korea launched two short-range ballistic missiles toward its eastern waters Thursday after the United States redeployed an aircraft carrier near the Korean Peninsula in response to Pyongyang's previous launch of a nuclear-capable missile over Japan.
In the first footage of its kind, scientists captured the moment a pod of orcas hunted great white sharks in South Africa.
A Texas death row inmate whose case redefined the role of spiritual advisers in death chambers nationwide was executed Wednesday, despite the efforts of a district attorney to stop his lethal injection.
Colorado baker fights ruling over gender transition cake years after case involving gay couple's wedding cake
The Colorado baker who won a partial Supreme Court victory after refusing on religious grounds to make a gay couple's wedding cake a decade ago is challenging a separate ruling he violated the state's anti-discrimination law by refusing to make a cake celebrating a gender transition.
Decisions made at a conference of international oil producers are expected to affect the crude oil market and the price of gasoline at Alberta pumps, which are already back to summer peaks.
Premier Jason Kenney, speaking a day ahead of the UCP leadership vote, said he is uncertain of his political future, but is proud of what he's done for Alberta.
Thousands of mail-in ballots in the United Conservative Party leadership vote have been rejected and now some voters are receiving phone calls and emails telling them they'll have to vote in person on Thursday.
The chief forensic pathologist for the Saskatchewan coroners service took to the stand in Saskatoon on Wednesday for the trial of Ranbir Dhull.
Following his $1 million lotto win, Rollins Head was in such a state of disbelief he checked his ticket at two different stores.
With rising inflation across the country programs that provide free food in Saskatoon are contending with unprecedented need.
Saskatchewan residents are paying more to attend live concerts, theatre performances and art gallery exhibitions following an expansion of the provincial sales tax.
A Regina woman who was convicted in 2019 for embezzling millions of dollars has been granted her appeal and a new trial has been ordered.
McKell Wascana Conservation Park is officially the Regina Wetland Centre of Excellence serving as an outdoor classroom for science students at Dr. Martin LeBoldus Catholic High School.
More than 16,000 customers in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island are still without electricity 12 days after post-tropical storm Fiona hit the Maritimes on Sept. 23. The ongoing outages and restoration efforts have prompted the Nova Scotia government to declare a state of emergency in several counties in northern Nova Scotia.
Across the East Coast, emotions about the way climate change is altering life can be heard, as residents rebuild their homes after Fiona and cope with weeks without power, and political leaders are asked how they'll prepare the coastlines and power grids to meet the next gale.
Some Nova Scotians are unsure if they qualify for the federal Fiona recovery fund announced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday.
Hedley frontman Jacob Hoggard could be sentenced today to up to 10 years in jail in the sexual assault of an Ottawa woman.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford will be making an announcement in Hamilton Thursday morning.
Hockey Quebec says it has lost confidence in Hockey Canada and will no longer transfer funds to the national organization.
Organizers of the Montreal Pride need to pay for security, communicate better, and hire more experienced staff to avoid another repeat of the devastating cancellation of the parade next year, according to a post-mortem report into the August 2022 fiasco.
The new rule allowing businesses in Canada to pass credit card fees onto customers will not apply in Quebec.
Ottawa police say a man is dead, and two other people were injured in a shooting in the area of Tompkins Avenue and Tenth Line Road Wednesday night.
Ottawa police are reporting a sharp rise in the number of vehicles stolen in Ottawa this year, with newer model Honda CRV's topping the list of targets for thieves.
NEW THIS MORNING
NEW THIS MORNING | What's open and closed in Ottawa on Thanksgiving Monday
CTVNewsOttawa.ca looks at what's open and closed in Ottawa over the Thanksgiving weekend.
The family of a man with a service dog who was forcibly removed from a Kitchener, Ont. restaurant last fall, is speaking out after assault charges against the two men involved were withdrawn.
The process to remove a truck that crashed into a building in Atwood a month ago started on Wednesday, as portions of the building were torn down to help dislodge the truck.
The Region of Waterloo is reminding business owners to start winterizing their property while avoiding over-salting surfaces.
Two recent incidents of adults trying to lure children have North Bay and area parents and caregivers on edge.
Cambrian College in Sudbury is still offering a free dental clinic as a way to help both people in need and students in the dental hygiene program.
Candidates vying to be Sault Ste. Marie’s new mayor say a few issues appear to be top of mind for voters: homelessness, drug addiction and mental health.
More than one-third of Winnipeggers believe people who have occupied public spaces in the city should be allowed to stay there briefly, according to a recent poll.
The Winnipeg Police Service has charged five more people after an encampment was cleared at the Manitoba legislature on Tuesday.
A mayoral debate Wednesday hosted by the Manitoba Heavy Construction Association saw four of Winnipeg’s 11 mayoral hopefuls talk crime, infrastructure and economic development.
'The worst that it has ever been': Concern mounting as severe drought conditions persist in parts of B.C.
On B.C.'s Sunshine Coast, home to about 20,000 residents, drought conditions have caused water levels to drop so low an emergency operations centre has been activated.
People in New Westminster will be getting a new mayor in 10 days, with two-term mayor Jonathan Cote not seeking re-election. Advance voting began Wednesday in the city, where voters will be choosing between three mayoral candidates.
3 taken to hospital after trailer flips, spills load into oncoming traffic on Vancouver-Burnaby border
A trailer attached to a dump truck flipped and spilled its load into oncoming traffic on the Vancouver-Burnaby border Wednesday, and paramedics say three people have been taken to hospital.
Victorians lined up outside city hall on Wednesday to cast an advance vote for the next leader of the city. Across the street, those vying to be the next mayor squared off in a live debate hosted by Victoria radio station CFAX 1070.
The B.C. Conservation Officers Service (BCCOS) has confirmed that two African servals are on the loose in the Qualicum Beach area of Vancouver Island. The exotic cats have killed a domestic cat, according to the BC SPCA.
B.C. Premier John Horgan says the New Democrat government's crime-fighting agenda involves more than increasing arrests of alleged violent offenders. Horgan says he agrees with Attorney General Murray Rankin who told the legislature on Tuesday that a focus on more arrests of prolific offenders to curb crime would be “futile.”