Last week I had the pleasure of attending an event put on by my university’s Equal Voice chapter. The event was called #SheWillRun: Women on the Campaign Trail and featured a panel of three female MPs and one female candidate.
The panelists were (from left to right as they sat on stage): NDP MP Mylene Freeman, Green Party leader Elizabeth May, Liberal candidate for Ottawa Centre Catherine Mckenna and Conservative MP Susan Truppe.
We are in an election year and approximately 30 per cent of the nominated candidates so far are women, which is about the same as it was during the 2011 campaign. There is a movement for a debate on women’s issues (You can sign the petition at UpForDebate.ca). The NDP and Liberals have already put daycare on the agenda, and the NDP is talking about political reform, which could lead to gender parity in the House of Commons. (During the #SheWillRun conversation, Elizabeth May was the first to bring up the problems with Canada’s current system).
The discussion went on for about two hours and many interesting points were raised. All four women raised the point that male candidates may go out canvassing alone but female candidates always have someone with them for safety. And each of the women had to be asked repeatedly to run before making the leap.
Elizabeth May said something very intriguing – she told the audience that NDP MP Craig Scott had once told her that he had started making a list of ministers of the Crown who are the best at actually answering questions in Question Period, and as he went along he realized that the whole list was made up of women. She also quoted another male colleague who told her that he prefers committees that have female members because he knows there will always be more consensus.
All of them agreed that Parliament would be a better place with more female MPs in the mix, and that more diversity is always better. (As great as it is to talk about elected more women, the Canadian parliament is sorely lacking in representation of visible minorities).