From the first linked article:
Robb Macpherson, a labor attorney with the firm McCarthy Tetrault, agrees Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms permits some discrimination to assist groups identified by the government as disadvantaged, but the form it usually takes is through programs that promote recruitment and hiring of qualified people from those groups - not by banning members of a non-minority class.
OPINION - You can't end racism by institutionalizing it
This is a frankly terrible policy decision that can only end badly for the Canadian Government in general and the Department of Public Works in particular.
It appears that the intention behind this move is to bring more diversity to the public service of Canada. Although perhaps well-intentioned, this move will certainly engender resentment on the part of otherwise qualified candidates who will be turned away due to their gender and skin colour. Worse, it flies in the face of stated government policy which forbids discrimination based on those factors. This move may also provide ammunition to white racists in Canada who will argue that that this policy is "affirmative action gone mad" and that this is some grand conspiracy to supplant the white man's rightful place, or some such nonsense.
Racism does indeed exist in Canada, as it probably does in every nation around the globe. This is unfortunate, and it is therefore understandable that the government would desire to rid itself of any appearance of racism. Marshall fears that having an all male and caucasian department might send the wrong message, and so he seeks to remedy this by forbidding the hiring of any more caucasian males. Of course, by doing this, he is fostering the same kind of racism he claims to fight against - the fact that his racism flows in the opposite direction does not mean it isn't just as racist.
You can't end racism by institutionalizing it - all you are doing is changing the type of discrimination in effect. The only way to ensure that there is no racism present in the system is for the government to be truly colour blind and gender blind, meaning that no ethnic group or gender should receive preferential or less-than-favourable treatment.
ARMCHAIR POLITICS - My "ideal world" solution
Marshall's plan should be help up as an example of how not to lay out a governmental hiring policy. The Canadian Federal Government should pay absolutely no attention to race or gender when making hiring decisions. This means that all "affirmative action" type policies should be abolished, as they are inherently racist. Government jobs should go to the most qualified candidate, period.
My justification for this is simple - discrimination and racism have no place in the government of a democratic society. The government should not be allowed to consider skin colour or gender as factors when hiring.
BACK TO REALITY
Of course, my solution may be considered idealistic or even naïve given certain unpleasant realities that exist within our society - namely, that many ethnic minorities come from financially disadvantaged backgrounds and are unable to afford higher education (Aboriginal Canadians, for example, are twice as likely to live in poverty as non-Aboriginals). Therefore, the question that arises is: how can people from such backgrounds reasonably be expected to achieve the necessary qualifications? Shouldn't the government be obligated to step in and lend a hand in an attempt to equalize the situation? This question is especially poignant since in many cases, the government is responsible in the first place for placing those ethnic groups into their current situations.
I suppose another way of phrasing the above question would be this: is racism always a bad thing, or is it possible to use racism as a tool for good, to correct some imbalance that should not have existed in the first place?
My personal opinion is that two wrongs don't make a right, and that a racist government is never a good thing. However, I acknowledge the strong probability that abruptly ending affirmative action and other racist hiring policies would probably do more harm than good in the short term. However, in the long run, a colour-blind (and gender-blind) government is the only truly fair, and therefore desirable, outcome.