Missed op­por­tu­nity with elec­toral bound­aries com­mis­sion

The Compass - - EDITORIAL -

A cou­ple of months back, House of As­sem­bly Speaker Wade Verge an­nounced the makeup of the Elec­toral Bound­aries Com­mis­sion and how he was con­cerned with ur­ban and ru­ral bal­ance but not gen­der bal­ance.

Pre­mier Paul Davis, ac­cord­ing to The Tele­gram, said some­thing to the ef­fect that the fo­cus was cov­er­ing ru­ral and ur­ban per­spec­tives, with gen­der eq­uity tak­ing a back seat.

Yes read­ers, women — who make up 52 per cent of the pop­u­la­tion of this won­der­ful prov­ince — took a back seat. Now, if I were to re­ally an­a­lyze the pre­mier’s com­ments, I just might hear a sex­ist com­ment, maybe even sim­i­lar to the old adage that women be­long bare­foot, preg­nant and in the kitchen.

Gov­ern­ment ads en­cour­age fa­thers and men to “teach their sons to re­spect women.” Th­ese ads are de­vel­oped by our gov­ern­ment, paid for by our tax dol­lars and yet this same gov­ern­ment sees no value in hav­ing gen­der equal­ity on one of the most im­por­tant com­mit­tees es­tab­lished in the last 10 years!

How is it that the gov­ern­ment could pro­mote such pos­i­tive ads for women and then take 100 steps back by sub­tly stat­ing that not one woman in this prov­ince was smart enough or wor­thy enough or good enough to be a mem­ber of that com­mit­tee? The com­mit­tee should have equally in­cluded men and women.

I re­cently at­tended a lun­cheon hosted by the Lib­eral Party and the leader of the op­po­si­tion, Dwight Ball, was there. Lib­eral MHA Cathy Bennett chaired the ses­sion and she asked each of the four panel mem­bers a ques­tion, then opened it up to the floor.

I re­minded ev­ery­one how all the par­ties put forth the name of a man for the Elec­toral Bound­aries Com­mit­tee and here was the Lib­eral Party en­cour­ag­ing women to be in­volved in pol­i­tics and lead­er­ship when their own party did not see fit to nom­i­nate a fe­male.

I asked if it was pos­si­ble that not one women sit­ting in the room was good enough to be nom­i­nated. Cathy Bennett said, “I am not sure that we didn’t.” She was not sure!

I asked a Lib­eral male MHA sit­ting at my ta­ble why they never rec­om­mended a woman for the com­mit­tee and his com­ment to me was, “the PC Party had two names to put for­ward and they never sug­gested a women ei­ther.”

In­stead of each party en­cour­ag­ing women to run for po­lit­i­cal of­fice once ev­ery four years, why not form a non-par­ti­san com­mit­tee where the time and tal­ent and money could be pooled to­gether in­stead of the divide and con­quer method!

My ques­tion is, where are our fe­male voices? Why is it that 52 per cent of the pop­u­la­tion are not join­ing their voices to­gether so they are a force to be reck­oned with and taken se­ri­ously?

Where are the voices of the fa­thers and the hus­bands and the broth­ers? Were ye all not of woman borne?

I think we should have marched on Con­fed­er­a­tion Build­ing, I think we should have screamed from the rooftops, and I think we owe our daugh­ters more.

Is there ac­tu­ally a glass ceil­ing or is it re­ally con­crete? There are coun­tries in the world where women are forced to walk be­hind their hus­bands, not al­lowed to speak in public and not al­lowed to vote. Women in Canada only won the right to vote in 1921, and all women only won the right to vote in 1960.

Be­fore 1921 we were not even con­sid­ered ‘per­sons.’ The victory af­ter a long strug­gle by the ‘ fa­mous five’ and their sup­port­ers to get us that right gets de­meaned when we do not speak up about injustice.

All the par­ties will be com­ing to us beg­ging for our vote this fall in the fed­eral elec­tion and less than a year from now in the pro­vin­cial elec­tion. I know we must elect more women to speak for us in lead­er­ship po­si­tions or we will never have an equal voice.

I know there are many women who work ev­ery day to make the world a bet­ter place for ev­ery­one and to ad­vance the rights of women. I also know there are not enough of us do­ing it.

It is time we put our voices to­gether!

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