Thursday, March 09, 2006

Male vs. Female in Parliament

Yesterday was international women's day and once again I kept hearing (in a couple of radio pieces) that women should make up half of the members of the House. The general argument given supporting this position is that the house should be representative of the people of Canada so it should be 50% (or 52% if you are being accurate) female. This would appear to be very reasonable, and in fact I can't really argue with the sentiment.

I can, however, lay out a position against the particular argument, that the house should be representative of all of the people it represents. The problem with the argument becomes apparent if you take it a few steps further - if 52% of Canada is female then the house should be 52% female. If (for example) 20% of the Canadian population is Native Canadian then the house should be 20% Native Canadian. That would be 20% of the males and 20% of the females we just added. This also seems reasonable and I'm sure the natives would be happier and better off if it were true. Now, what happens to the 10% of homosexual males in Canada? Do you take the 50% of the house that are male and then designate x number of seats to be occupied by gay men? What happens to the 10% who are black, the 10% who are Asian, the 30% under the age of 30 the 40% over the age of 50, the % who are disabled etc.

At some point in that chain you may have said to yourself that I was just being silly or even ridiculous, and in fact I am. This is a logical argument, I have taken what is on it's face is reasonable and extended it, rationally, to a ridiculous conclusion. The Latin term is Reductio ad absurdum. What this means is that if the argument results in something absurd when taken to it's reasonable conclusion then the entire argument, all of it, is absurd. So, while I don't disagree with what was intentioned - they need to find a better way of justifying it, what they're saying just doesn't work.

I'm open to someone pointing out where I'm wrong on this, but frankly I don't think I am.


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