Where are the women? Photo op highlights lack of female candidates
A Conservative party photo op in Ottawa Thursday looked a little like the clubhouse of the Little Rascals — No Girls Allowed.
Pierre Poilievre, the Conservative minister of Employment and Social Development, was flanked by nine other Tory candidates from the National Capital Region to announce his party’s plan for dealing with the public service.
All of them were men.
“We have an open nomination process that encourages grassroots democracy,” Poilievre said when a reporter from The Canadian Press asked whether the Conservative party could have attracted more women to stand as candidates.
Poilievre, the Conservative candidate for Carleton in Ottawa’s south end, said he respects that process.
Leading up to an election, party members get together and pick who they want to represent the party.
Other parties do it basically the same way.
“We have an excellent slate of candidates — both male and female — right across this country that will serve Canadians well,” Poilievre continued.
There are 16 eastern Ontario ridings in Ottawa and Gatineau and the surrounding rural areas.
Only one woman is running for the Conservative party in eastern Ontario: MP Cheryl Gallant is seeking re-election in Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke.
It’s not just in the Conservative party where women are under-represented.
Across Canada, only one-third of all the candidates running in the Oct. 19 election are women, said Nancy Peckford, a spokesman for Equal Voice, a multi-partisan organization that tries to encourage more women to run for office.
“There’s nothing wrong with an open nomination process. The reality is it’s producing very different results for different parties,” she said.
Across Canada, there are 97 ridings – or 29% of the total 338 – that don’t have a woman on the ballot.
The way the number of female candidates grows, it could take another 45 years before they make up half of the candidates in a federal election, Peckford said
Some parties have more actively encouraged women, Peckford said.
The NDP has an internal policy for riding associations to have a thorough look for women interested in running before holding a nomination meeting.
“Our sense is they’ve had significantly more success reaching out to women and other under-represented groups,” Peckford said.
One factor preventing the Conservatives from bringing in more women is that, as the government, they have a larger number of sitting MPs – mostly men – seeking re-election.
The NDP, Liberals and Greens have more new candidates to field, so they can recruit women more easily, Peckford said.
Across Canada, 43% of the NDP’s candidates are women, according to the party’s website, proclaiming a “new record for any party.”
The Liberals have 103 female candidates – or 31% of their total.
The Conservatives have 65 women candidates, meaning 19% of ridings have a Conservative candidate.