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