Inside Politics

When was Rona Ambrose last asked about her status of women file?

On Wednesday, Status of Women Minister Rona Ambrose voted in favour of a motion that would have created a parliamentary committee to study the Criminal Code definition of when life begins.

Motion 312, presented by Conservative MP Stephen Woodworth, was defeated 203 to 91.

In the House of Commons Thursday, Ambrose was questioned about her vote and said this:

This is the first question I've received on the status of women file this year. In fact, I think this is the first question I've received since last year as well. And you know why that is? Because this government has an incredible track record for standing up for Canadian women. We have increased funding for Status of Women to its highest point in Canadian history and so far in just a couple of years, we've funded over 550 projects from coast to coast to coast to tackle violence against women and empower women and girls and we'll continue to do just that.

Asked to clarify what Ambrose meant by "this year" -- in the two weeks since MPs returned from the summer break? Since Jan. 1, 2012? Since Sept. 27, 2011? -- a spokeswoman for her office explained that she had couched it in "I think" and wouldn't answer specific questions about when the last question had been posed.

The spokeswoman said she would have to spend a day going through Hansard to figure it out.

We did it for her.

Using the criteria Ambrose set out, she isn't wrong.

Having sorted through Hansard back to March 2012, Ambrose herself didn't get any questions in question period about the status of women file.

However, Susan Truppe, her parliamentary secretary, responded to a question on women's rights by New Democrat MP Niki Ashton on May 2, 2012. Ashton and Libby Davies teamed up to query Colin Carrie, the parliamentary secretary to Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq, about women's health funding. That was on April 26, 2012.

The NDP sent along questions on women's issues from March 2 and 8, 2012, as well as June 13, 2012, all of which other ministers answered (questions often touch multiple files -- two of the questions, for example, were about social programs provided by Human Resources and Skills Development. The other was on violence against Aboriginal women.).

The Liberal Party provided questions from 2011 and 2012 on violence against Aboriginal women and women's rights in Libya. A Liberal spokeswoman said the questions weren't directed at any minister in particular, so Ambrose could have taken the questions had she chosen to.

So, the opposition was asking questions about women's issues. In some cases, Ambrose's parliamentary secretary answered. In others, other ministers answered.
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