August 18, 2016 - 7:00 AM
OTTAWA - The federal government has a list of 29 prominent Canadian women it thinks deserve to have buildings named in their honour, but very little has been done with it.
Status of Women prepared the list of historic female figures more than four years ago for Rona Ambrose, who at that time was the public works minister for the previous Conservative government.
The list includes women's rights activist Nellie McClung, former Supreme Court justice Bertha Wilson, former governor general Jeanne Sauve and novelist Gabrielle Roy.
Nicolas Boucher, a spokesman for Public Services and Procurement Canada, said the government is still thinking about what to do with it.
"This list remains available for possible future use," Boucher wrote in an emailed statement.
One of the names on the list — nurse Jeanne Mance — had already been used for a Health Canada building in Ottawa, but Status of Women included her anyway.
The statement also noted that selecting a name is not as simple as seeing who is available from a pre-approved list.
"The Government of Canada names its structures to commemorate Canada's history. The names chosen also often have a link to the building or structure, or the work performed there," Boucher wrote.
Boucher confirmed the Conservative government named 13 federal buildings between the time the list was provided in March 2012 and the federal election last year.
Two of those buildings were named after women — the Laura Secord Building in St. Catherines, Ont., one of seven buildings nationwide named for War of 1812 heroes, and the Dr. Alfreda Berkeley Needler Laboratory in St. Andrew's, N.B., named for the first female scientist who worked at the complex there.
Neither of those names were on the list prepared for Ambrose.
Most of the other buildings christened during that time gave the honour to men, including the James Michael Flaherty Building in downtown Ottawa, after the late federal finance minister.
The Valour Building, also in Ottawa, was renamed to commemorate the Canadian mission in Afghanistan and not for any particular person.
The new Liberal government is expected to unveil its first federal building name on Thursday, but the women are going to have to wait a little longer.
That's because the international airport in Moncton, N.B., is being renamed in honour of former governor general Romeo LeBlanc, who was born and raised in that province.
New Democrat MP Sheila Malcolmson, the critic for status of women, said she is discouraged by the lack of action.
"Canadians really want to see their public institutions reflect the diversity of the country and of its history," said Malcolmson.
"I really feel we need these historic, strong women who changed the country to be recalled to current memory, so that we can inspire the young women and girls growing up now, to reinforce for them that they can have a big impact on the country," she said.
She said that message was reinforced earlier this year when Canadians weighed in on which female figures they would like to see featured on currency.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced March 8, on International Women's Day, that an iconic Canadian woman would be on the next series of bank notes issued in 2018.
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News from © The Canadian Press, 2016