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More women MPP’s in Ontario; will there be more women MP’s after next federal election?

One of the things I was interested in highlighting today was comparing and contrasting post-Ontario election the number of women that are now active MPP’s in the new Ontario legislature, as there have been many discussions in recent years about the lack of female representatives running or being elected to the political halls of power, and what can be done to increase that.

Specifically, the Ontario Liberal Party has elected nine new Liberal women MPP’s, and has the most elected women MPP’s in caucus. Overall in the legislature, the combined three parties have elected 38 women MPP’s representing 35.5% of the Ontario legislature – the most women ever to sit in the Ontario legislature. A record 145 women candidates also ran in this election. These are all very good things, and a step in the right direction.

I say a step in the right direction because as the article says, 19 ridings had no women candidate to choose from, and I have read that of those 145 women candidates running, only 40 of the 145 women running were in ridings that were considered winnable by their party. That would indicate that a lot of these women were running in ridings were they were essentially electoral sacrificial lambs. While the increase in women candidates is good, there needs to be more of them in ridings where they have a legitimate chance to win.

Segue over to the federal scene – specifically for me, the Liberal Party of Canada. I believe we need to be choosing as candidates more women in winnable ridings to give ourselves a chance to increase their MP representation in our party and the House of Commons. I can give you a good example of where that can be; in the riding of Brant, where Danielle Takacs is running for the nomination. That riding has been Liberal before and can be Liberal again, and the LPC would have a good progressive candidate and a fresh new voice if she was nominated (disclosure: Danielle is a good friend, and I endorsed her candidacy back in February).

Let’s take a quick look at some of the other Ontario ridings:

At this site which lists current potential Liberal nominees or actual candidates in ridings (not complete, but the best I could do for now), more prominent women running for a nomination would be Deborah Coyne and Karen McCrimmon, both who ran in the Liberal leadership race. I’ll also mention Julie Dzerowicz, running in a 4 way nominee race, because she happened to be at a “Meet the Candidates” forum back in April that Danielle was at, and it did not go unnoticed by some that of the dozen or so nominees, only 4 2 were women – herself and Danielle.

You may look at that abbreviated list from Ontario and think there’s a fair number of women running, but remember:
a) this is an abbreviated list that isnt complete, neither for Ontario or for the other provinces if you go back there to look at them
b) take a look at where they are running (is it in a winnable riding?)
c) many of them are either still running to be the nominee or are expecting competition in their riding to be the nominee, so it is not a given they will all be around to stand as the MP candidate.

The question becomes how do we get more women to run, and to run in ridings considered winnable? At one time in history in the party, representation was attempted to be increased by the party and party leader appointing women candidates to represent ridings, but that sometimes didnt go over well with local riding associations or they were appointed again as sacrificial lambs, and Justin Trudeau has stated that he wants open nominations (though some have questioned that in light of some recent unfortunate events in a couple of ridings).

So what to do? Is it a matter of just trying to encourage women to run, or encourage political parties to nominate more women, or encourage the local riding associations to be brave and elect them as their candidate to give the general electorate a chance to vote for them as an MP? I don’t for a moment suggest trying to tilt the playing field towards women candidates, but I think it needs to be LEVELED, if anything.

I don’t have any good answers, but there is an organization called Equal Voice ; it has a few ideas about what to do to increase that representation.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention with specific regards to the LPC, they have The Judy LaMarsh Fund, which collects donations to help women candidates. There is also the “Invite Her To Run” initiative.

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