S.           Letters to Both the Soon-to-Be-the-First Female Premier of Quebec and the Minister of State for the Status of Women

The following, edited letter, to Canadian Minister of State for the Status of Women, Rona Ambrose, contained a copy of a separate correspondence of mine (also edited) to the soon-to-be-elected, first female Premier of Quebec, Pauline Marois, who led the Parti Quebecois (PQ). For the reader to know, neither women offered any answer to the questions raised. (With that said, Canadian women who, from the below, 2012 date, were in or are in the construction field, and are suffering from on-the-job health issues, may wish to take the following to their attorneys.)

September 3, 2012

Minister Ambrose:

You were copied on the below . . . As you are the Minister of State for the Status of Women, and the issues raised . . . are at the forefront of gender and women’s studies, I would appreciate your response . . ..

Thank you sincerely,

 

-------- Original Message --------

From: Rabbi Chaim Gruber

Date: Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Subject: Regarding Parti Quebecois’ stance on equality between the sexes

To: MP Pauline Marois

Cc: Minister of State Rona Ambrose

 

Mme. Marois:

I write to you regarding your recent announcement that if the Parti Québécoise wins the election, it would institute a secularist charter that would promote “the fundamental values of equality between men and women.” With that in mind, I bring your attention to a letter I sent to Montreal’s Mayor Gérald Tremblay, which, in part, pertained to my concern about the city’s promotion of female, hard-hatted construction workers. (The federal government, too, promotes the idea of females in construction. E.g., see http://www.careersinconstruction.ca/faq#5).

I was particularly concerned about a city renovations billboard that displayed an image of a gorgeous, smiling, hard-hatted, female construction worker (see attached photo). To whatever degree, such an image, surely, more normalizes women in construction. However, is this wise? Only consider the plentitude of scientific studies that show that women, for biological and not cultural reasons, are generally three-times more likely than men to suffer from migraines. Therefore, is it not cruel to increase women’s desires to work in a field wherein even the males are frequently prone to compression migraines due to hard-hat usage?

Without discussion of other professions where a difference in sex could matter, even this single difference in the field of construction reveals a serious issue with a policy of all-out equality between the sexes. Rather, a better approach would be respecting the true and not imaginary differences between women and men so that we all can ideally reach our full, complementary potentials. (Of course, when credence had been given to imaginary differences, the results were even horrid displays of misogyny or misandry.) 

With that considered, and with the honest acceptance that there should be equality between women and men in all the social spheres where there are no biological bases for differences, I would like to know your specific policy on female and male equality when there is a physiological basis for difference, such as in the mentioned field of construction? (While important, my question does not, here, pertain to those who are inter-sexed.)

Your answer is very important for a number of reasons. Only consider the following: it is established, scientific fact that women, as mentioned, are three-times more likely to get migraines. Therefore, if the PQ were to win the election and promote total equality between women and men, including in the field of construction, would that leave the Quebec government, and thereby taxpayers, more liable for a potential class-action lawsuit by all future, women construction workers who were, God forbid, disabled on the job due to chronic migraines? 

Furthermore, were such a time to come, would Quebec (and taxpayers) be at a higher level of financial liability? After all, this information about the additional danger to women in construction is, now, being made known via this and other letters, so that the government, in future, could be accused of recklessness as opposed to mere negligence? (Of course, this same concern would, also, apply to the City of Montreal, as well as to the federal government, which was, too, made aware of my letter to the mayor.)

I am more familiar with U.S. law; and, the first claim that comes to mind in such a case would be one of reckless endangerment. I do not know to what degree a similar claim exists in Canada, but in the U.S., the claim is well described by the following, direct, emphasis-added quote from USlegal.com: “Reckless endangerment . . . create[s] a substantial risk of serious physical injury to another person. The accused . . . is not required to intend the resulting or potential harm, but must . . . show[n] a disregard for the foreseeable consequences . . . The charge may occur in various contexts, such as . . . construction site accidents. . .”

While I realize that the governments of Canada, the U.S., and others have for some time been promoting women in construction, I do not know if this potential legal liability has been realized. Further, and going by an Internet search, there does not seem to be any extra-protective headgear designed especially for women so that their getting migraines can be better prevented. For instance, after a Google search using the keywords “construction hard hats for women,” I found the following (emphasis added): “Safety hats for women are as protective as those for men, only the suspension is smaller. We carry hard hats in three shades of pink.”

With that in mind, if the government is promoting women in construction without there being available safety items to counter the naturally higher incidence of women’s migraines, it seems that a recklessness claim, if one were in the future filed, would be more easily accepted by a court.

With concern, looking forward to your response, and good luck in the election!

Rabbi Chaim Gruber

 

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