Gender Equity

Coun. Russell Walker apologizes for comments

'Let’s hire them:' councillor reverses stance on hiring women

Coun. Russell Walker apologized Thursday for controversial comments he made at an executive meeting Monday.

Walker said on Monday the Halifax Regional Municipality will never have gender parity in its workforce because women may not want to work as police officers, firefighters and bus drivers. His original comments followed the release of a report showing 71 per cent of the municipal employees are men.

“The way it came out is not the way I meant it, and if that’s the case, I apologize,” said Walker.

“All I was saying was hire all the women you want, but I thought it was going be hard to get 50 percent. I have nothing to say that they’re not qualified or they can’t get a job. All I’m saying is that. Bring it on. Let’s hire them. It’s a lofty goal to reach. That’s all.”

On Monday, Walker said it takes a “very special person” to be a police officer and claimed to know “many young women” who left the police department because “it’s not their thing.” He wouldn’t give the names of the former officers, but said they left because of “safety.”

“I know two or three that left because of travelling alone at night,” Walker said Thursday.

He does not know any men who have left for the same reasons.

On Thursday, Walker encouraged anyone, regardless of their gender or background, to apply for jobs in the HRM.

“If I know them, I’ll even put in a good word,” said Walker.

Walker said he will be arguing for more firefighters, male and female, at Friday’s budget meeting.