Opinion Column

Female political content needed to help candidates

By Laila Yuile, City Hall

B.C. Premier Christy Clark (R) walks with Alberta Premier Alison Redford (L) and Newfoundland Premier Kathy Dunderdale REUTERS/Andy Clark

B.C. Premier Christy Clark (R) walks with Alberta Premier Alison Redford (L) and Newfoundland Premier Kathy Dunderdale REUTERS/Andy Clark

Who wins this week? Columnists Laila Yuile and Kathryn Marshall battle over the issues of the day.

This week’s topic:

Are gender quotas in politics outdated?

Kathryn and I come from opposite ends of the political spectrum, but on rare occasion worlds collide and we actually agree on something. While it might surprise you, I think she’s right on the money when she states gender quotas are undemocratic, and I’ve been highly critical of the BC NDP’s own policies regarding gender equity in the past.

Read Kathryn Marshall's column.

Kathryn makes a good point that in B.C. if a female NDP MLA retires, that spot must be filled with another female candidate. But what if the best candidate for that riding happened to be male? For voters it’s a case of too bad, so sad. In my opinion, that’s not only wrong, it’s downright offensive. As a progressive female voter, I’ll vote for who I think will represent my community best, male or female, and I think most people feel the same way.

However, does this mean we shouldn’t do anything at all to encourage more women to enter the political arena? Not at all. When you consider women weren’t even allowed to vote until the 20th Century, it’s not surprising we still lag behind in equal political representation. We make up more than half the population, therefore I think it is vital to strive for equal representation at all levels of government across the country. Canada has made some huge strides in recent years, and it definitely shows, but there is still considerable ground to cover.

While Kathryn mocks the Pink Book created by the Women’s Caucus of the Liberal Party of Canada, I’m not inclined to do the same. OK, I’ll agree the whole women-pink stereotyped connection is gag-worthy. But the content is relevant to how government policy impacts women specifically, and differently, than men. The BC NDP Women’s Caucus also holds training sessions and conferences aimed at providing potential candidates with support and skills inherent to the political arena. While Kathryn states these groups are marginalizing and patronizing, I think they deal with some harsh realities still facing many Canadians.

Women have been moving into political and leadership roles for a long time and will do so with increasing frequency on their own accord. Setting gender quotas not only turns back the clock for every woman who’s worked hard to get to the top based on her experience and record, but also risks turning off women like myself who find the concept appalling.

Laila Yuile is an independent writer, blogger and political commentator. You can read her blog at lailayuile.com.



Who wins this week's duel on gender quotas?

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