CBC Radio’s Ottawa Morning did a short segment on January 30 about being a woman in politics, but the conversation on Twitter turned quickly to a discussion about the lack of mothers in the discussion.
The fact is there is a lack of mothers in the discussion stems from the fact that there just aren’t a lot of young mothers in the House of Commons right now. When I thought about it I could name three: Sana Hassainia, NDP MP and mother to Skander Jack, who made a bit of news with his appearance in the House last year, Minister of Labour Lisa Raitt has two sons and Ruth Ellen Brosseau is a single mother to a young son. A friend noted correctly that Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq is also mother to a son. Hassainia is currently pregnant with her second child, and her colleague Rosane Doré Lefebvre is expecting her first.
It seems most women who make it into parliament are older women with older children, or younger women with no children. The fact is that it takes a lot of effort to campaign and then work in politics.
Being a woman in a campaign has proven to open you up all sorts of personal attacks and criticism. Women in campaigns are about how they dress, their hair, their past, whether they’re a ditz or a bitch, because you can’t be smart and powerful without being a bitch. It’s easy for me to see, as the mother of a young daughter, why you would not want to expose your children to that.
And once the campaign is done and you start work in the House of Commons it must be ever harder. You’re still scrutinized, and you have totally unpredictable hours and you live in two different cities. There is no parental leave, no sick leave. Constituents will always have questions and issues, no matter when your daughter’s recital is.
Why does it matter? Mothers can provide no unified voice, every woman is different, mother or not. There are no issues that are only important to mothers.
But without mothers, who deal with the day-to-day trials and tribulations of the next generation it would seem that there is something missing in the debate. Our government would do well to have constant reminders that there is an entire generation that needs us to make the right decisions for their future.