Affirmative Action can be harmful

Canadian federal governments already exercise affirmative action (AA) when cabinets are formed to ensure regional representation, Anglophone and Francophone members, as well as those from racial minority groups. The proposal to require certain levels of gender representation in cabinets creates another dimension of AA. Once gender is added, other groups emerge to argue for similar representation.

 

This happened in university hiring for faculty members. First AA was instituted for the hiring of women, then other groups such as aboriginals and the physically disabled argued that they should be accorded preference. Earlier groups were not enthusiastic about those who came later, and questions were raised about how to establish priorities between the groups, and what this might do to the quality of the educational experience.

 

Consider another venue. What happens in so-called national soccer leagues?  The only thing English about some of the clubs in the English Premier Soccer League is the name of the team, with owners, coaches and players coming from abroad. In order to form the best teams, which provide the best entertainment for spectators, players are recruited from anywhere in the world. AA is not applied. In world cup competition AA does occur in that players have to be associated with their national team.

 

My point is that AA is present in all kinds of activity, but its presence means that it will affect the performance of the activity in ways which may not be beneficial to others. Once one group is given preference others will seek the similar treatment which will ultimately adversely affect the performance of the activity.

 

It may make sense to have AA re gender equality in the Canadian federal cabinet, but how do you achieve this when less than half the elected members of any party are of one gender, and when it merely entices other groups to argue for some form of preference. At some point the quality of decision making will suffer even further,

 

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