Women are winning big in Canadian politics, so why are some parties still pushing quotas?

February 3, 2013

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When Kathleen Wynne is sworn in as Ontario’s first female premier next week, there will be six female premiers across the country.

It’s incredible the extent to which women have been completely dominating the provincial political scene in recent years. The hotly contested election in Alberta last spring was fought between two women — Danielle Smith of the Wildrose Party and Progressive Conservative Alison Redford.

In 2011 in Newfoundland, the leaders of all three major political parties were women.

In Ontario, Andrea Horwath’s NDP has led in some polls and there’s a possibility she could even succeed Wynne’s government. A woman succeeding a woman in government would be a first in Canada.

The glass ceiling hasn’t just been cracked — it’s been blown apart. There have only ever been 10 female premiers in Canada, so that means more than half the females ever to be premier are serving right now. Five of those women have become premier since December 2010, and they did it without quotas and affirmative action.

Women aren’t just at the helm of power in provincial politics, they’re leading the way in Ottawa. Federally, women hold key ministerial positions like labour, health and public works, and there’s a great crop of smart novice female MPs making waves as parliamentary secretaries, such as Delta’s Kerry-Lynne Findlay.

They won through hard work, determination and convincing voters they were the best pick for the job.

Given the amazing accomplishments of women in politics lately, how come we still have parties, academics and advocacy groups proposing policies like gender quotas to get more women elected?

BC NDP members are big supporters of gender quotas. Retiring women NDP MLAs will only be replaced by other women.

Note to Adrian Dix and the NDP: Women candidates, like all candidates, should be judged on their record and character, not their gender.

Not only is it grossly undemocratic, the implicit message in gender quotas is that women cannot win based on their own merit, which is a completely false presumption.

The Liberal Party of Canada has supported gender quotas in the past. They’ve even got a women’s commission built into the party structure that produces a ridiculously named Pink Book on women’s policy. This kind of sandbox politics is patronizing, marginalizing and reinforces tokenism.

Anyone who supports these policies only needs to look at provincial politics during the past two years to see they are wrong.

Published in 24 Hours Vancouver

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