A comment made by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the recent G20 Summit in Argentina has caused a stir in the Canadian construction industry, with several stakeholders taking to social media to voice their views and opinions on the matter.
During a panel discussion with members of the G20 Business Women Leaders Task Force, which focused on how to increase women’s participation in the economy, Trudeau said, “Even big infrastructure projects, you know might now say, ‘well, what does a gender lens have to do with building this new highway or this new pipeline or something?’ Well, you know, there are gender impacts when you bring construction workers into a rural area. There are social impacts because they’re mostly male construction workers. How are you adjusting and adapting to those? That’s what the gender lens in GBA (gender-based analysis)-plus budgeting is all about.”
The comment drew criticism from the industry, with many expressing their disappointment on Twitter.
“The construction industry has been working very hard to be inclusive,” said Canadian Construction Association (CCA) president Mary Van Buren. “Our members from across the country employ women, Indigenous, new Canadians, youth and apprentices among others. They do a lot of good in their communities and on the jobsites.
“Prime Minister Trudeau’s regrettable remarks only serve to reinforce the negative stereotypes and it also undermines our efforts to attract more people to the industry at a time when there is also a workforce shortage. The government is planning to invest $180 billion in infrastructure and we’re working hard to attract workers to the industry including underrepresented segments.”
Following the comment, the CCA tweeted “Our president @MaryVanBuren would be happy to discuss how #CDNConstructionGives with Prime Minister @JustinTrudeau.”
The #CDNConstructionGives has had over 1.5 million mentions, added Van Buren.
— CdnConstructionAssoc (@ConstructionCAN) November 30, 2018
The short clip circulating on Twitter does not reflect the entirety of the panel discussion, a spokesperson for the Prime Minister’s Office told the Daily Commercial News.
“The panel discussion was really about how our government is taking steps to ensure that gender is considered in a variety of ways when designing policies,” the spokesperson said. ”One example was in terms of child care policies, another example was in terms of construction, but what he was talking about more broadly was the fact that if you want more women to work in trades and in construction settings then the policies, and however we develop those policies, have to be inclusive and understanding of the fact that more needs to be done to ensure that there are more women in these sectors but also that they stay in these sectors once they get there.”
On his Twitter, Jason Kenney, leader of the United Conservative Party in Alberta, showed a post from his Facebook page from Tamara Mack Robbins, whose husband oversees a crew in the natural gas division in Alberta.
“He sacrifices for our family by being out of town for work, staying in hotels with his crew throughout Alberta,” reads the post.
“For Mr. Trudeau to even suggest these crews are not welcome or a danger in rural communities is absurd…There are many careers across this great nation that has spouses travelling away from home for work…these workers he refers to are our husbands, sons, brothers and yes, sisters.”
Justin Trudeau killed Energy East, meaning Canada continues importing oil from OPEC dictatorships.
When will he apply a “gender based analysis” on Saudi oil imports? https://t.co/74Khu9CdVc
— Jason Kenney (@jkenney) November 30, 2018
Sean Reid, vice-president and regional director of Ontario, for the Progressive Contractors Association of Canada tweeted: “It is highly disappointing to hear our Prime Minister propagate such a negative and misleading image of Canada’s construction industry on foreign soil.”
It is highly disappointing to hear our Prime Minister propagate such a negative and misleading image of Canada's construction industry on foreign soil. https://t.co/eo1Y7uEEyG
— Sean Reid (@SCReid_1973) November 29, 2018
As a construction worker and employer of construction workers I am at a loss trying to understand exactly what the PM means.
— Walter Pamic (@WalterPamic) November 30, 2018
This is really hard to listen to coming from the PM. https://t.co/sRAWvqwqJQ
— Chris Lorenc (@ChrisWLorenc) November 30, 2018
This is political correctness at its most ridiculous. The impacts of construction workers building things are prosperity and strong families. They should be celebrated, not demonized.
I guess when you inherit family wealth you have the luxury to make such idiotic statements. pic.twitter.com/h6kq729tBI
— Andrew Scheer (@AndrewScheer) December 1, 2018
A powerful statement from the wife of an oilfield worker on Justin Trudeau’s hurtful remarks about folks like her husband. From my Facebook page pic.twitter.com/pExOWGxXNf
— Jason Kenney (@jkenney) December 2, 2018