TRUTH: Equality vs Equity

Stephanie Bakker

Across Canada, from the Prime Minister down to the Mayor of our little town, we have seen the rapid spread of the idea that some Canadians should receive preferential treatment. “Equal under the law” isn’t enough. Some, apparently, must be promoted above others. This is the idea of “equity”. As Interim Mayor Jamaly said, “We believe in equitable governance over neutral governance.” “What is equal isn’t always fair, and what is fair isn’t always equal.”

Let’s stop and consider what that actually means.

He believes the government SHOULD be allowed to discriminate and play favorites. If anyone comes along asking for everyone to be treated equally, they will be labelled as against the government’s current pet group. The government, of course, gets to choose who is deserving of this special treatment. Now, they base their favoritism on whether or not a group is a minority or has suffered. But “who has suffered most” is not a game to play to build a thriving society. This promotes victimhood as a way of life.

It seems it’s no longer enough to just believe that everyone is worth respect regardless of their beliefs or genetics, but that we must elevate some above others to “make up for” past inequality. This is the stuff of anti-racism. As a black woman, my “race theory” is “Have you ever personally owned a slave? No? Have I ever personally been a slave? No? Then no reparations are needed. You are not responsible for anyone else’s actions. I am not defined by other’s experiences. Let’s grab coffee.”

Now I’m not saying there aren’t people who have experienced racism on a personal level. And I’m not saying that those of the pride and trans community have not experienced prejudice on a personal level. But let me lean in and make eye contact, as I make my next point: this does not make it right for the government to step in and start promoting certain humans over other humans.

The crux of the matter is that they believe in Equity and we believe in Equality. Equality means everyone is treated the same way. Equity means those who are seen as disadvantaged are to be given special treatment. The trouble is, democracy is founded on the ideas of equality.

Councilor Keyes likened the way they’re supporting the pride community to when one of her kids needs extra help with their homework and so she gives them extra time and attention. I would like to offer a more accurate analogy drawn from my own life.

My half-sister and I were raised together by our amazing single mom. My sister’s father was white while mine was black. If the type of Equity the Town Council wants had been played out in my family, my mother would have told us my entire life that I was less privileged than my sister and needed special treatment to make it fair. My sister is also 5 years older and bigger and stronger than me, so it’s even more inequitable. My sister would have been told that it was insensitive to put up decorations celebrating her birthday as she was white and bigger, but that my birthday should be made a big deal of. It wouldn’t be enough that my sister cared for me and never treated me as less than her. In the shared spaces of the house, a big picture of me would have been put on the wall. Any requests by her to be treated as an equal daughter would have my mother immediately grounding her and telling her she was a bigot and targeting me with discrimination.

How much harder would this make it to have peace in our home? How much harder would this make it for my sister and I to feel close? How much would this have negatively shaped my own self-perception growing up?

The Town Council professes to be championing the LGBTQIA+ community. Councilor Keyes likes to say passionately that she “chooses love”. This is the kind of love that is its recipient’s worst enemy, harming rather than healing.

Perhaps the government is choosing a group that you approve of to promote today. But what happens if a party you don’t like gets into office, and now they have the power of promotion and discrimination? Who will they decide is “worthy” or “unworthy”? You may not agree with their choice, but it is very hard to take back power once you have given it to the government.