Anyone who questions the justice of employment equity is liable to be denounced as a racist, woman-hating reactionary: What, then, are we to make of Martin Loney?
In the 1960s, Loney was a leader of the student left. While he still subscribes to many socialist ideas, he makes clear in The Pursuit of Division: Race, Gender, and Preferential Hiring in Canada that he is dead set against any form of racial and sexual discrimination in the guise of employment equity. This well-researched book should be indispensable reading for anyone who has been taken in by the propaganda that women and visible minorities in Canada suffer from systemic employment discrimination.
Loney has a personal interest in this issue. In 1990, he applied for one of three openings for assistant professors in the School of Social Work at Carleton University, confident that he was well qualified since he holds a PhD from the London School of Economics and had previously taught at universities in Canada and Britain.
As it turned out, though, two of the three posts went to racial minority candidates without a PhD and the position for which Loney had applied was won by a woman. "Seven books that I had written or edited were in the university's library;" he notes, "the successful candidate had none."
In advertisements for the three job openings, Carleton University stated that, "Normally appointment to professor positions requires a doctoral
degree, but under affirmative hiring practises, visible minority and aboriginal candidates without a doctorate will be considered." Loney did not just resign himself to the unfairness of such a discriminatory policy.
He launched a formal complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Commission, charging the university with discriminating against him on the basis of sex. Following a four-year investigation, the commission rejected his complaint on grounds that section 4 of the Ontario Human Rights Code permits the kind of racist and sexist discrimination in hiring practised by Carleton if the intent is, "to relieve hardship or economic disadvantage or to assist disadvantaged persons or groups to achieve or attempt to achieve equal opportunity."
This explanation is absurd. Ontario Ombudsman, Roberta Jamieson, has conceded in a letter to Loney that when he submitted his application to the university, "People from visible minorities had been more highly represented with 10.3 per cent of faculty members at Carleton as compared to nine per cent in the external work force."
In other words, although visible minorities were already overrepresented at Carleton, the Ontario Human Rights Commission insists the university was right to discriminate against underrepresented white men for the purpose of hiring even more visible minorities.
The greatest disadvantage to male faculty results from discrimination in favour of women. Loney cites a Canada-wide study by Prof. Grant Brown of the University of Lethbridge which found that, "qualified women are twice as likely as qualified men to be hired for university positions." Radical feminists are disposed to ignore such facts. On Oct. 6, 1995, former Liberal MP Mary Clancy undertook to justify employment equity on the federal level, by telling the Commons that "white males get 90 per cent of the promotions" throughout the public and private sectors.
Like so much feminist propaganda, this assertion is grossly incorrect. Loney cites a study by the federal government which found that in 1993, able-bodied white males held 52 per cent of full-time jobs within federal jurisdiction, but won only 39 per cent of the promotions.
The Harris government deserves credit for abolishing the Ontario employment equity act. Nonetheless, discrimination in hiring and promotion remains rampant within the province. Recently, Queen's University added gays and lesbians to its list of preferred job applicants.
Loney comments: "Where once progressive thinkers would be outraged that the sexual orientation of consenting adults would be thought a relevant criteria for employment, current fashion declares its centrality."
Loney suggests the answer to eradicating employment equity in the universities may lie in their increasing dependence on student fees and outside fund-raising: "Those who are being called upon to pay the bill, he says, "should ask some hard questions, including why, in many disciplines, a generation of male doctoral graduates have had their careers blighted by government-sanctioned discrimination."