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Friday, July 28, 2006

Women in Politics

I agree with my new best friend Jason Cherniak that the only way to achieve gender parity in Parliament is to create a system where, as he says, "there is no choice but to end up with more women." I like some of Stephane Dion's ideas, but I feel they aren't ambitious enough and most of them make too much of the power of the leader to appoint candidates.

Now here is a real plan to get more women in Parliament. I'll note that it comes from an individual who, as Premier of Ontario, had a Cabinet composed of 42% women. (That, by the way, is the highest ratio of women in Cabinet achieved by any provincial or federal government in Canada. Ever.) Some of the highlights of Bob Rae's 14 point plan:
  • Amend the Canada Elections Act to provide financial incentives to parties not simply to nominate but to elect women candidates. Parties would receive increased rebates (per vote) for every woman elected to the House of Commons until gender parity has been achieved and entrenched.
  • An LPC Gender Advisor/Equity Officer who would work in the Leader’s Office and be responsible for developing programs to aggressively recruit, train and mentor female candidates. This individual would also provide a gender based analysis on policies, proposals and our platform.
  • Develop develop training and mentoring programs for women interested in seeking nominations and for women who have already secured nominations.

Rae's first point is obviously his most ambitious and will probably be the most controversial. A direct subsidy to parties for electing more women may not go over well with some people. I like it, though. I repeat: Gender parity will only come about if the system not only permits it, but encourages it and even demands it.