By Patrick B. Craine

TORONTO, June 18, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The Alberta Finance Minister, Iris Evans, a member of the Progressive Conservative Party of  Alberta, has come under fire from the leader of the Liberal government after telling the Economic Club of Canada on Wednesday morning that having one parent stay at home is important for raising children well. Her comments came at the end of an address to the Club during the question period, in the context of speaking about the importance of teaching kids about finances.

Referring to her own children, Minister Evans said, “They've understood perfectly well that when you're raising children, you don't both go off to work and leave them for somebody else to raise.”

“This is not a statement against daycare,” she went on. “It's a statement about their belief in the importance of raising children properly.”

Pro-family advocates came out strongly in support of Minister Evans’ comments.

“[We need] to recognize the tremendous value [of stay-at-home mothers],” said Gwen Landolt of REAL Women Canada in an interview with LifeSiteNews.com (LSN), “and society hasn’t done enough of that. They say the woman, especially an educated woman, is wasted. Hardly. She’s making the most magnificent contribution imaginable to society … It’s time society recognized this tremendous value and contribution.”

Landolt admitted, however, that in an economic structure that is stacked against stay-at-home parents, there are sometimes pragmatic reasons why a mother simply cannot take the time off work.

What the Minister said “is absolutely true in a perfect world,” she said, but “the difficulty is, especially in this economy, … each one has to work, not just for luxuries, but just to keep the family operational.”

“We only wish more women had the choice or the option, but in today’s world it’s not always that easy.”

Brian Rushfeldt, Executive Director of the Canada Family Action Coalition, said that there is strong research to back up Evans position. “I believe there is researched evidence that shows that when a parent stays home with a child there’s much more likelihood the child will be better adjusted and also less likely, as evidence shows, of getting into crime or drugs or sex issues. …  Parents do a better job of raising their children than somebody else can.”

Dave Quist, Executive Director of the Institute of Marriage and Family Canada, told LSN, “I commend [the Minister] for saying that publicly as a public official, that kids need a mom or dad to be home with them, especially in those early years.”

“The body of research,” he said, “is quite clear that children do best when raised by their own, married, biological, mom and dad.”

“With regards to having a mom or a dad stay at home with their children,” he went on, “there’s also evidence that kids do best when that takes place. They are nurtured best. I mean who knows better how to treat a child - mom or dad, or a childcare worker? ... Moms and dads care and love their kids the most, and so that’s obviously in the best interests of the child.”

Following the speech, however, the Minister was sharply criticized for her comments by Alberta Liberal leader David Swann, who called for her to apologize. Swann said Eveans should be fired should she not do so. “If she really said these things, she must apologize,” said Swann. “If she doesn't apologize, the premier must fire her. … These are truly outrageous claims. I have never been as stunned by the sheer arrogance and ignorance of the Tories as I am today.”

According to Swann, “In a sense, Iris Evans did us all a favor by revealing her contempt for the sacrifices made by hard-working Alberta families.” Swann suggested that Evans’ comments prove that the current PC government of Alberta is a “group of small-minded social conservatives who don't understand the problems of ordinary Albertans.”

Swann’s demand for an apology from Evans caused Dave Quist to chuckle. “I think there would be millions of moms and dads across Canada that would stand up to cheer for her, and certainly those people wouldn’t be asking her to apologize. Our research tells us that 82% of families all across the country, regardless of whether they are moms or dads, regardless of whether they are in urban or rural settings, regardless of which province they happen to live in, they would prefer to stay home with their child to raise them in those early years.”

Landolt said that structures need to be put in place to allow more women to stay home if they choose. “REAL Women’s position,” she said, “has always been that women should have that choice, and the way to have that choice, [is] to have … less taxation for the family and a higher deduction for a parent at home.”

Commenting on Liberal leader Swann’s criticism, Landolt said, “Alberta is progressive in many, many ways, but certainly to say that a woman at home is enormous value is just common sense.” 

Rushfeldt told LSN he was troubled by Swann’s remarks. “I was certainly disturbed by the Liberals all of a sudden [saying] apologize immediately,” he said. “She has, even as the Minister of a government, she has … the freedom in Canada still, to express her opinion.”

In light of the controversy she sparked, Minister Evans clarified her remarks on Thursday, but did not rescind her main point. “I understand some people were offended by some of what I said,” she stated. “I did not intend to suggest there is only one way to raise a child.”

“Having worked for most of my adult life while raising kids,” she continued, “I understand no situation is the same and that parents have to make difficult choices that are in the best interests of their children, and I applaud them for making these choices.” 

Asked to comment on what Minister Evans had said, Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach said: “We have a tremendous respect for working families—both parents working contributes greatly to the province of Alberta and to the country of Canada.”

Contact Information:

The Honourable Iris Evans

#208 Legislature Building
10800 - 97 Avenue
Edmonton, AB T5K 2B6
Phone: (780) 427-8809
Fax: (780) 427-5543
Email: Fin-ent.Minister@gov.ab.ca
 

The Honourable David Swann

#201 Legislature Annex
9718 107 Street
Edmonton, AB T5K 1E4

Phone: (780) 427-2292
Fax: (780) 427-3697

E-mail (Constituency Office): calgary.mountainview@assembly.ab.ca
 

See also the Institute of Marriage and Family Canada’s report on their research of Canadian childcare choices:

http://www.imfcanada.org/article_files/CanadiansMakeChoicesAboutChildcare.pdf