January 22, 2018 7:47 am
Updated: January 22, 2018 3:19 pm

Alberta’s status of women minister slams UCP member for criticizing women’s marches

WATCH ABOVE: Alberta's status of women minister has fired back at the opposition UCP's communications chair for criticizing women's marches held over the weekend. Slav Kornik has the details.

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A minister in Alberta’s NDP government has chastised a tweet by the Opposition’s communications chair that slammed women’s marches held over the weekend.

Status of Women Minister Stephanie McLean was responding to a Twitter post on Saturday from Sonia Kont of the United Conservative Party, who stated that “ideological marches like the one in Washington” do not empower women.

PHOTO GALLERY: Across Canada, women march in solidarity

Kont added that the last time she checked everyone had the same rights in society, and the march lacked clarity and purpose.

She also said “there are better ways to empower women instead of playing identity politics in a march.”

McLean responded that the UCP “ridiculed the strength of women marching together in solidarity and using their voices fighting for equality.”

Dozens of marches were held in communities across Canada on Saturday, a year after women’s marches that sprang up around the globe in the wake of Donald Trump’s inauguration as U.S. president.

LISTEN: UCP member Sonia Kont defends her tweet criticizing women’s marches 

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READ MORE: Edmontonians ‘making a point’ at second annual women’s march

The event drew a large crowd at the provincial legislature in Edmonton, and an even larger one in Calgary.

READ MORE: Thousands take part in Calgary’s Women’s March

The second annual women’s march in Edmonton was held Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018.

Julia Wong/Global News

“What rights have women lost in the United States or Canada? It’s a shame these marches don’t say a word about the horrific conditions women face in the Middle East,” Kont tweeted in response to criticism of her initial posts.

“Did this march also voice support for Iranian women or the Kurdish female heroes fighting ISIS? How about the Saudi Arabian women? They deserve rights and freedom too.”

McLean, meanwhile, noted that women face a pay gap with men, are responsible for more childcare, make up only a fraction of corporate boards, and face other issues such as domestic violence.

A number of people supported McLean on Twitter, including one who linked to a tweet by former prime minister Kim Campbell.

“What I love about these marches are that they are everywhere,” Canada’s first and only female prime minister said. “And there are LOTS of great MEN smiling and marching with the women!”

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But there was also support for Kont, including a tweet from fellow UCP member Bettina Pierre-Gilles, who is listed on the party’s website as a member of its policy committee.

“I couldn’t agree more with you Sonia. I’m a proud advocate for women and working our way to the top,” her tweet states.

“These marches indeed only sends a message that only the loudest few can be heard, while nothing is advocated on policies.”

UCP Leader Jason Kenney added his own voice to the discussion on Sunday evening.

“Proud that the United Conservatives have so many strong, outspoken women as members. Our party doesn’t force conformity. Members are free to hold differing views,” Kenney tweeted.

Another UCP communications staffer, Christine Way, posted a tweet saying “Things I learned this [weekend]: women are fine bullying and shaming other women whose views don’t 100% align with their own. Good to know.”

Canadian organizers said Saturday that 38 communities were hosting marches, rallies and other events.

Police in Calgary tweeted their own support for the event in that city, along with a picture of a uniformed officer with marchers.

“We were honoured to not only ensure the (march) was safe for all participants, but also to show our support by taking part,” the tweet from the Calgary Police stated.

— With files from Karen Bartko, Global News

© 2018 The Canadian Press

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