WINNIPEG — A Manitoba politician says the world wars of the last century might not have happened had there been women leading countries and militaries.
Flor Marcelino, the interim leader of the Manitoba New Democrats, made the statement in question period while asking the Progressive Conservative government about its gender balance.
Marcelino was pressing Premier Brian Pallister on why he did not appoint any women to his treasury board — the five-member cabinet committee that oversees government spending.
Marcelino said women can bring a different perspective, and the two world wars might have been avoided had there been women presidents and generals.
Pallister fired back, saying women played key roles in both wars.
Marcelino was recently chosen to lead the NDP until a more-permanent successor can be chosen to replace former premier Greg Selinger, who decided to step down after last month's election loss.
Marcelino was reading from a prepared text about the provincial treasury board during question period when she appeared to deviate from it.
"I wonder — maybe (an) afterthought — maybe if there were women presidents or generals during the time of World War One of World War Two years, maybe we wouldn't even have those two world wars. Never know, because women weren't there."
"I won't comment on the wisdom of any comments that reference the causes of world wars being gender-based," Pallister replied.
"I would say this though, the member is quite wrong in her assertion that women didn't play a key role in standing up for freedom and protecting others during both world wars."
As interim leader, Marcelino is on her feet more in the legislature. She served as a minister for multiculturalism since 2009, but was never a target for the then-opposition Tories in question period.
As for the provincial treasury board, Pallister says he appointed the best ministers for the job.
"I would encourage all members here to make sure that we give every equal opportunity to people — not on the basis solely of gender, race or any other factor — but on the basis of their sincere values and ability to contribute to a better society."