Peter MacKay's email to staff: Moms change diapers, Dads form leaders
Minister of Justice Peter MacKay stands during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill on in Ottawa on Thursday, June 19, 2014. (Sean Kilpatrick / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Karolyn Coorsh, CTVNews.ca
Published Tuesday, June 24, 2014 1:59PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, June 24, 2014 9:33PM EDT
Minister of Justice Peter MacKay’s email greetings to staffers for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day have caused a stir for their different takes on male and female parental roles.
The two notes were sent via email to staffers on the respective holidays in May and June.
In the Mother’s Day email, MacKay acknowledged and congratulated the staffers “who have two full-time jobs” and who are “dedicated moms and caregivers around the clock.”
“By the time many of you have arrived at the office in the morning, you’ve already changed diapers, packed lunches, run after school buses, dropped kids off at daycare, taken care of an aging loved one and maybe even thought about dinner. Yet you come to work every morning ready to make your contribution as a public servant for the benefit of all Canadians and their families.”
The Father’s Day message begins in a similar fashion but quickly takes a different approach, with no mention of diaper changes, daycare or aging loved ones. Instead, the email acknowledges staffers who “are also dedicated fathers, shaping the minds and futures of the next generation of leaders.”
The note goes on to say that it can “be daunting to consider the immense and life-long influence we have over our children. Our words, actions and examples greatly mould who they will become. We can only hope that the moments we spend, guiding and loving them will sustain them throughout their lives.”
A government source told CTV News that the Mother’s Day message was written by department officials and “tweaked” by MacKay before the final message was sent out to employees under MacKay’s name.
In both emails, MacKay notes that he, too, is the parent of a young child.
In a statement, MacKay’s press secretary Paloma Aguilar said the emails show a “recognition of incredible efforts all parents make each and every day to balance work and family commitments and ensure the well-being of their children.”
But Liberal MP Chrystia Freeland said they reflect outdated stereotypes.
"I think that particularly in families like the ones that were addressed by these emails ... I simply don't think that reflects the modern Canadian family and is demeaning to both mothers and fathers," Freeland said in an interview with The Canadian Press.
"Both mothers and fathers change diapers and worry about dinner and both mothers and fathers, at least we try to mould the minds of our children and to set an example through our own actions.”
News of the emails comes as MacKay faces criticism over remarks he recently made to the Ontario Bar Association in Toronto in which the minister reportedly said the reason there are fewer women on federal benches is because they aren’t applying. Instead, he said, women are choosing to stay at home with their children and avoid “the old boys network” of judges.
His explanation was derided for being out of touch, outdated and chauvinistic.
In Ottawa last week, MacKay defended his remarks that women have a special bond with their children, but he also said his words were mischaracterized.
The texts of a Mother's Day message and a Father's Day message sent to employees of the Justice Department this spring:
Mother's Day Message
As we take the time to celebrate Mother's Day this weekend, I'd like to take this opportunity to recognize our colleagues who have two full-time jobs: as hardworking Department of Justice employees during business hours and as dedicated moms and caregivers around the clock.
Now as a father of an active toddler myself, I have a new appreciation for how busy and hectic a parent's life can be. By the time many of you have arrived at the office in the morning, you've already changed diapers, packed lunches, run after school buses, dropped kids off at daycare, taken care of an aging loved one and maybe even thought about dinner. Yet you come to work every morning ready to make your contribution as a public servant for the benefit of all Canadians and their families. And for this, we are all thankful.
For all our colleagues who are mothers, or have mothers, I hope this weekend is full of love, appreciation and lasting memories!
The Hon. Peter MacKay
Minister of Justice
Father's Day Message
As we pause and take the time to celebrate Father's Day this weekend, I wish to take this opportunity to recognize our colleagues who are not only dedicated Department of Justice employees, but are also dedicated fathers, shaping the minds and futures of the next generation of leaders.
Watching my young son grow, learn and change a little more every day, I marvel at the tremendous gift that my family and I have received. Yet, needless to say, it can also be daunting to consider the immense and life-long influence we have over our children. Our words, actions and examples greatly mould who they will become. We can only hope that the moments we spend teaching, guiding and loving them will sustain them throughout their lives.
From my family to yours, I hope you enjoy this special day with your loved ones, complete with lasting memories to be cherished.
The Hon. Peter MacKay
Minister of Justice