MP defends Peter MacKay after e-mails draw controversy

Peter MacKay arrives with his wife Nazanin Afshin-Jam and their son Kian before being sworn in as...

Peter MacKay arrives with his wife Nazanin Afshin-Jam and their son Kian before being sworn in as Justice Minister in Ottawa in this July 15, 2013 file photo. (REUTERS/Chris Wattie)

Matt Dykstra, Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 1:55 PM ET

EDMONTON -- Edmonton MP Laurie Hawn says the recent criticism levelled at federal Justice Minister Peter MacKay for e-mails he sent on Mother's Day and Father's Day is "utter nonsense."

On Tuesday, CBC News reported on two congratulatory e-mails sent from MacKay's office to government staff on Mother's Day and Father's Day. In the Mother's Day e-mail, MacKay says that he has an active toddler and knows how 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," he wrote.

In the Father's Day e-mail, MacKay recognizes "dedicated fathers" who are "shaping the minds and futures of the next generation of leaders."

The differences in verbiage and tone between the e-mails has been perceived by many as MacKay willingly reinforcing gender stereotypes. Dr. Cristina Stasia teaches in the Women's and Gender Studies department at the University of Alberta and says MacKay is exhibiting "blatant sexism."

"He's not only reinforcing outdated gender roles but he's incredibly dismissive of all the father's out there who take great pride in being stay at home fathers. He's reinforcing gender roles that say women stay at home and men work and that's just not the reality," said Stasia.

But Hawn says people are "making a mountain out of nothing".

"Gimme a break," said Hawn. "I know Peter very well. He is none of those things that people accuse him of being; sexist or misogynist or whatever. That's just utter nonsense."


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