"A Citizen"s Eye View"

Sunday, December 9, 2012

So When Will Canada Elect it's First Female Prime Minister?

Canada is slowly waking up to the fact that women can make very good politicians. And why shouldn't they? Out side of the fact that Canadian politics has been until now, seen as a combination blood sport and gentleman's club, there is absolutely no reason why a woman couldn't be every bit as effective as a man in the political arena. In fact, the lack of testosterone induced combativeness may be a decided advantage, especially when Canadians are desperately seeking a return to a more collaborative Parliamentary Democracy as opposed to the hyper-tribal Harper Autocracy we currently have. 

There are currently a record 76 women sitting as MPs in our 308 seat House of Commons. That's an average of about 25% as opposed to the United States that has 72 women currently sitting in it's 435 seat House of Representatives. That's 17% by comparison. In addition, there are  5 women Premiers in Canada, or roughly 38%. There are only 7 women Governors in the United States for an average of about 13%. It seems Canada has a slight edge in the area of gender equality in the political arena. That's not to say though that the U.S. is less open minded. America came with in a hair's breadth of nominating Hillary Clinton as the Democratic Representative in it's 2008 election and there is every reason to believe she could have won the whole damn thing. 

Kim Campbell. First Female
Prime Minister In Canada
While not elected, Canada briefly had a woman Prime Minister in 1993 when Brian Mulroney resigned. Kim Campbell was anointed leader of the Progressive Conservative Party and served as Prime Minister for six months.  Campbell was a well respected cabinet Minister in the Mulroney Government and held such posts as Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Minister of Justice, Attorney General and Minister of Defense  All very high-profile positions. So Ms. Campbell was indeed, an extremely qualified and effective politician. However, taking the reins of the Progressive Conservative Party and leading them into a Federal Election, hard on the heels of the Mulroney years was tantamount to being made the captain of the Titanic after it hit the ice berg... and the band had stopped playing. So as with Ms. Clinton in the states, circumstances dictated that North America would not see it's first elected female head of state. 
Elizabeth May
Parliamentarian of
The Year

Today, there is a plethora of highly qualified and dedicated women in Canadian politics. I would have to say that first among them would be Elizabeth May who just recently was voted Parliamentarian of the year by her peers. That recognition speaks volumes. Ms. May is without a doubt, one of the hardest working MPs in Ottawa today. She is a prolific writer and researcher and as leader of her party, she has gained the reputation as being very vocal in the House (in a productive way as opposed to the usual "Rah-Rah" party rhetoric). Unlike most MPs, she attends the House almost daily. She considers it her job and her duty. 

In opposition to the destructive and anti-democratic bill C-38, May collaborated with the other parties in opposition to craft hundreds of amendments to that disastrous bill and subsequently participated in the marathon voting session that followed. And as she is the only elected member of her party, May sat through the entire affair. 

May also demonstrates her collaborative nature by openly and actively advocating for cooperation (as opposed to merger) among the parties in opposition so as to overcome the obstacle of vote splitting- there by deposing the Harper Autocracy and setting the stage for electoral reform. This plan is seen as a remedy to our "first past the post"  electoral system which Harper skillfully manipulated and was able to turn slightly more than 38% of the popular vote into a rather questionable majority government. But alas, as Ms. May is leader of the distant fourth place Green Party, she has zero hope of ever becoming Prime Minister unless she is prepared to jump ship and change her knickers from Green to either orange or red. Unless of course, Canada decides to do away with Political Parties all together, but that is another story.
Joyce Murray. A
Collaborative Strategy
For Electoral Reform.

Elizabeth May is not the only woman talking about inter-party collaboration as a means to electoral reform. Liberal Party leadership hopeful Joyce Murray is also advocating for this process which seems to be gaining some grass-roots support. Recent NDP leadership hopeful and current House leader Nathan Cullen has also advocated for opposition party cooperation in bringing about electoral reform. 
Martha Hall Findlay
Campaigned on issues
Near and Dear to
Canadian's Hearts.

But alas, Ms. Murray is a dark-horse candidate for the Liberal Leadership which seems hell-bent on bestowing the crown upon Justin Trudeau. But who knows, perhaps if Mr. Trudeau continues to shoot himself in the foot every few days, Murray and her vision might actually have a shot. But Joyce Murray is not the only woman contending for the Liberal Leadership. Successful entrepreneur and 2006 leadership hopeful Martha Hall Findlay is also  vying for the Liberal top spot. In her first quest for leadership, Hall Findlay was an ambitious campaigner who formed her platform around the environment and health care, things that are still near and dear to the heart of many Canadians, especially health care. 
Nycole Turmel
Held a rookie NDP caucus
together after Layton's passing

And leave us not forget that in the wake of Jack Layton's tragic passing, Nycole Turmel was given unanimous support by the NDP caucus as interim party leader until Layton's successor could be chosen. As such, Ms. Turmel sat as the Leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition for seven months preceding Thomas Mulcair's election as party leader. During her brief tenure as interim leader, Turmel showed a steady hand in guiding the largely rookie NDP caucus and forming them into a coherent opposition party. She now serves as "Party Whip" in the House. 

As I mentioned in a previous article, Alberta Premier Alison Redford has demonstrated a decidedly collaborative approach in dealing with the other provinces (with the exception of B.C.s Christy Clark who is attempting to make political hay on the strength of her animosity for Redford). Thus, she is gaining supporters outside of Alberta's boundaries and could one day, restore the "P" (for progressive) to the Federal Conservative Party. It says here, Ms. Redford has a better than reasonable shot at replacing Harper once the severely  "whipped" CPC caucus has decided they have had enough of the Harper Autocracy and the Harper-Youth in the PMO. Being outside of the Federal caucus, Redford would seem a logical leader of a palace revolt. 

Alison Redford has proven the
ability to be able to stand
Toe to Toe with Harper, yet
plays well with others.
So it seems that there is quite a number of extremely strong and qualified ladies well suited to being Canada's first elected Woman Prime Minister. These are all  women who have demonstrated leadership, a collaborative approach and a strong vision for Canada, not just enthusiastic  support for the ruling elite. The only thing that seems to be standing in their way is the traditional party system which tends to favour men, and the support of the Canadian electorate. 2015 may or may not be the breakthrough year for Canadian women, but it is coming soon and it could well be a decisive factor in finally overhauling our electoral system and ultimately salvaging our devastated democratic system of government.  

Canadian Women Parliamentarians
In front of the Centre Block. In support
Of International Women's day, March 2010.

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