France is Moving Forward, And Canada?

French feministsEvery once in a while something happens that makes me take stock and question why I’m living in Canada.  Every once in a while a government somewhere else does something simple yet important that for whatever reason I can’t see Canada’s government ever doing.  Our country is fine with commissions, and panels, and high-minded policy statements, and broad gestures like Trudeau’s “Because it’s 2018,” but terribly weak when it comes to actually doing the kind of simple, attainable, and obvious things that will  actually improve people’s lives.

An obvious example is the longstanding promise to provide First Nations communities with safe drinking water and housing that is equal to what we find in the suburbs of any city in Canada.  Both problems could have been solved in months if the will had been there to do it.   There are companies – Canadian companies – that build portable water processing plants.  You just haul it in by truck or helicopter, add a generator, and bang – clean drinking water.  It really is that simple.

There are companies that build pre-fab homes. Everything is assembled in a factory, and then the house is delivered by truck in three or four house-trailer sized chunks.   It’s fairly affordable, the build quality is excellent, and it would be dead simple to do this for most First Nation communities.  So why don’t we do it?  Seriously, why don’t we?

What got me on this tangent was the news last week that France had made cat-calling illegal.  The law had been in the works for a while, but after one particularly nasty and widely YouTubed incident the Macron government was able to pass this into law almost immediately.  They didn’t spend years studying it, they didn’t appoint a panel, they didn’t try to find a mild and inoffensive (to assholes) compromise.  They just did it.

Conde Naste Traveler has a nice article about this, but a quick search will find any number of other stories.  I quote from that article:

Only a few days after a shocking video surfaced (and quickly went viral) showing a Parisian woman getting hit in the face by the catcaller she had reportedly just shut down, France has officially made catcalling and other street harassment punishable by law. Under the new law passed on Wednesday, sexual harassment on the country’s streets will now result in on-the-spot fines of up to €750 (about $871), according to Reuters.

“Harassment in the street has previously not been punished. From now on, it will be,” Marlène Schiappa, France’s secretary for gender equality and a primary architect of the bill, told Europe 1 radio on Thursday. “What’s key is…that the laws of the French republic forbid insulting, intimidating, threatening, and following women in public spaces,” she said.

I sincerely doubt that Canada will ever pass a law like this, even though a large part of our population would support it.  Actions like this take courage, and that seems to something that Canadian politicians lack.

So why are we moving to France?  A lot of it comes down to staying in a country that can’t even be bothered to provide safe drinking water, or moving to one that takes a serious stance in the battle to eliminate sexual harassment.