The anti-women legacy of Patrick Brown.

Patrick Brown was first elected to the ultra-Conservative Barrie, Ontario city council at age 22. As a Barrie councillor, he fit right in. It took him another four years to win election in the local federal electoral district and be part of the back-bench yes-men for Prime Minister Stephen Harper. It was in Ottawa, that he showed his true social conservative colors and voted against women’s rights and same sex marriage. His legacy in Barrie is that of a repressive environment that makes Barrie one of the worst cities in Canada for women.

A recent assessment by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives places Barrie as number 23 of a list of 25 Canadian cities in their addressing women’s needs. The study measures local concerns such as economic security, health care, community leadership, educational opportunities and security within the community. Barrie is a sorry case.

While you can hardly blame it all on Patrick Brown, his lack of interest in women’s issues, his social conservative upbringing and the apparent dislike of him on the part of single women tend to mark him as part of the problem, instead of a solution.

The basic conservatism of city council does not help either. It hardly matters if the mayor wants to show leadership or not. The mayor alone cannot fight recalcitrant attitudes among city staff nor continually pit his or her one vote against the rest of council. Leadership takes a lot more political smarts than we have seen in the last three mayors of this poor benighted town.

One of the efforts in which Patrick Brown thinks he can claim Brownie points is the serious problems the city has had in providing doctors for a rapidly growing population. His solution was to allow doctors to cherry pick their ideal patient list and if those selections did not include the aged or chronically ill, that was tough on those people—the last ones who should be left to walk-in clinics.

Where Barrie has suffered the most is that nobody is taking a serious look at the type of businesses the city is attracting. Call centres and retail work do not contribute many high paying jobs. The council think that financial companies’ computerized back rooms are a big deal but they contribute only about one well-paying job per 100 square metres of space for the computers. Well-paying jobs for women take considerations such as day-care opportunities and after-school activities. These are not concerns, politicians such as Patrick Brown worries over.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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