kathleen wynne

Harper’s Gendered Attack on Justin Trudeau

Recent print attack ad against Justin Trudeau by the Conservatives.

Recent print attack ad against Justin Trudeau by the Conservatives.

by Matt Moir

Michelle Rempel rolled her eyes and paused, choosing her words carefully.

Standing in the lobby outside the House of Commons, the Conservative MP for Calgary Centre had just been informed that she had been voted Sexiest Female MP in an Ottawa newspaper’s annual poll.

“I get the opportunity to speak to a lot of women’s groups about encouraging women to run for office, and about women’s leadership issues and the number one thing I always say is women should be judged and evaluated by their merit.”

If only her boss would heed her message.

Her Conservative Party’s negative ad campaign against Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau may, as some have claimed, be successfully rallying the Tory base, and thus helping the party fill its coffers. But it’s also alienating a section of the electorate vital to Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s chances of winning another majority government: female voters.

Trudeau’s poll numbers are overwhelmingly positive among women. A recent Harris/Decima poll found that 61% of Canadian women view Trudeau favorably, whereas Harper is viewed favorably by only 37% of women.

Some commentators attribute this support for Trudeau to the fact that women in Canada traditionally are more supportive of left-leaning politicians than conservative ones.

Others say that women are drawn to the Liberal leader’s charisma and good looks- he was, after all, voted sexiest MP in The Hill Times’ annual survey.

What shouldn’t be discounted, though – and what probably should be explored further – is that Canadian women might be able to identify with the young MP, and the nature of the personal attack ads he’s had to endure.

Immediately after Trudeau won his party’s leadership race, the Tories unleashed a torrent of ads attacking the newly minted Liberal leader. This is nothing new, of course. The Conservatives are well versed in the art of the political takedown; just ask Stéphane Dion and Michael Ignatieff. But what makes the ‘Justin’ ads different is the unseemly gender baiting aspect to them. Read more

Posted on by Matt Moir in Can-Con, Feminism, Politics 1 Comment

Are Canadian Women Politicians “Having a Moment”?

Wynne1

New Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne

By Megan Stanley

A brief scan of the headlines of various news stories over the past month suggests Canadian women are having quite a moment in politics. Largely prompted by the recent election of Kathleen Wynne in January as leader of the Ontario Liberal party, almost every national media outlet has produced a piece contributing to the growing public discussion on the representation of women in Canadian politics.

Even former Prime Minister Kim Campbell chimed in with an op-ed in the Globe & Mail calling for the establishment of gender parity in Parliament. According to the narrative created by these media stories, women politicians represent a new wave of game-changers on the Canadian political scene and their recent successes may signify shifts in our society’s attitudes toward gender and politics. Not too shabby.

With each story, the current state of the nation’s political affairs is reiterated: Canada currently boasts six female Premiers, some of whom govern provinces that are seen as key “have” regions in the Canadian economy. The recent Ontario Liberal leadership race, a critical election for the province, was dominated by two women candidates. The current federal Liberal leadership race features four accomplished women out of the total nine candidates seeking to change the face and direction of the party.

However, even considering these recent accomplishments, women remain vastly underrepresented in Parliament and provincial/territorial legislatures. Women comprise only 25% of MPs in Canada’s Parliament as of 2011, falling short of the critical mass (defined by the UN as 30%) needed to have a visible influence on legislation and political culture.

These facts and figures are consistently cited in both public and academic discussions, highlighting the dismal state of affairs for women in politics and calling for gender parity in all levels of government.

So, what’s the problem? Isn’t it a positive step forward for the Canadian public to recognize and respond to the need for a national discussion on women’s political underrepresentation? If gender parity in legislative bodies is the ultimate goal, doesn’t recognition and discussion of the problem help to reach it? Read more

Posted on by Megan Stanley in Can-Con, Feminism, Politics Leave a comment