Height shouldn’t matter in politics, Wynne says
WHEN it comes to being an effective political leader, does your height matter?
Kathleen Wynne referred to a recent National Post article comparing the height of Canada’s premiers as one of the subtle challenges women face in politics.
“Guess what? The women are the shortest. Biologically, I’m stunned that the women are the shortest,” the Ontario premier said, drawing laughs at a forum on women in politics at the biennial convention of the Liberal Party of Canada in Winnipeg Saturday morning.
“We happen to have fairly tall premiers right now. (Manitoba Premier) Brian Pallister is, I don’t know, 6- 8? I’m going to meet him today. The pictures are going to be ridiculous.”
In a question-and-answer session with Liz Plank, senior editor at Mic, formerly Policy Mic, the Ontario premier wondered why a news outlet would focus on the subject.
“Why does (Alberta Premier) Rachel Notley have to explain that being 5-2 is OK? You can still be a strong politician. I’m 5- 4, OK? I can still be a strong person and be 5- 4.”
Wynne said while the complaint may sound trivial, it’s “the kind of thing that seeps in, and you spend some time trying to overcome that.”
“I can only wear heels that are so high,” she joked.
Wynne, 63, Ontario’s premier since 2013, said her experience of being a woman in politics is, “You bump up against rules that you didn’t even know were there.”
Asked if more women are needed in politics, Wynne said, “absolutely.”
When there are more women elected, women will not be categorized differently, she said.
The fact half of the federal cabinet is women is “awesome,” she said, as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sat in the audience.
What’s important is it leads to a different kind of decision-making, Wynne said. “It means that the issues that are talked about are different, the decisions that are made are different,” she said.
Wynne said Ontario’s action plan on sexual assault and violence is an example of how women can play a key role in decision-making.
“I’ve had members of my caucus who have been in politics for a long time who are men come up to me and say, ‘We would not have done that if it had not been for women in leadership,’” she said.
Wynne’s presentation was followed by a panel discussion on women in politics.
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne (right) speaks with Liz Plank onstage at a forum on women in politics at the Liberal convention Saturday.
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