Women’s is­sues take cen­tre stage in panel

Fed­eral elec­tion can­di­dates will present their po­si­tions; Harper will not par­tic­i­pate


Party lead­ers vy­ing for women’s votes in the fed­eral elec­tion will get to make their case dur­ing a panel on gen­der jus­tice and equal­ity Mon­day.

Or­ga­nized by Ox­fam Canada and the Al­liance for Women’s Rights, Up for De­bate will give women a chance to hold can­di­dates ac­count­able for poli­cies that af­fect women.

Lib­eral Leader Justin Trudeau, NDP Leader Thomas Mul­cair, Green Leader El­iz­a­beth May and Bloc Québé­cois Leader Gilles Du­ceppe will each have a chance to tell the coun­try how their par­ties will sup­port women’s rights, lay­ing out their po­si­tions in pre-recorded in­ter­views that will be­come fod­der for the de­bate. Con­ser­va­tive Leader Stephen Harper de­clined to par­tic­i­pate.

“This de­bate —and these ques­tions — mat­ter not only to women but to all Cana­di­ans.” JANE DAVENPORT TORONTO STAR MAN­AG­ING EDITOR

This na­tional con­ver­sa­tion will be broad­cast live from the Is­abel Bader Theatre at the Univer­sity of Toronto on Sept. 21. In part­ner­ship with the Toronto Star and Le De­voir, it will also be livestreamed in both of­fi­cial lan­guages be­gin­ning at 7 p.m. Twit­ter Canada will broad­cast the event live on Periscope and pro­mote the de­bate on so­cial media.

“This de­bate — and these ques­tions — mat­ter not only to women but to all Cana­di­ans. The Star is pleased to be work­ing with our part­ners to ad­vance and pro­mote the dis­cus­sion,” said Jane Davenport, man­ag­ing editor at the Toronto Star.

Hosted by co­me­dian and writer Jess Beaulieu, a panel of ex­perts in the fields of media and so­cial jus­tice will de­bate the plat­forms of the four party lead­ers.

The lead­ers dis­cussed their po­si­tions in ex­clu­sive in­ter­views with es­teemed jour­nal­ist and doc­u­men­tary film­maker Francine Pel­letier, cov­er­ing vi­o­lence against women, gen­der­based eco­nomic in­equal­ity and women’s lead­er­ship.

“Women make up half of the pop­u­la­tion but they re­main un­der-rep­re­sented in Par­lia­ment and in de­ci­sion-mak­ing roles in busi­ness,” said the Star’s so­cial jus­tice re­porter Lau­rie Mon­se­braaten, who will be par­tic­i­pat­ing in the panel. “De­spite the fact that more women than men are now grad­u­at­ing from univer­sity and col­lege and more of them are mov­ing into se­nior man­age­ment po­si­tions at work, they still earn 33 per cent less than men. As a re­sult, they are more likely to be poor in old age.”

The Al­liance for Women’s Rights is made up of 100 part­ner or­ga­ni­za­tions com­mit­ted to start­ing a con­ver­sa­tion about women’s rights dur­ing the elec­tion.

“It’s an op­por­tu­nity for us to, for the first time, hear our lead­ers speak on these is­sues within the con­text of the elec­tion,” said Sarah Ken­nell, from Ac­tion Canada for Sex­ual Health and Rights. “Women’s is­sues, gen­der equal­ity and women’s rights have been com­pletely ab­sent from the con­ver­sa­tion thus far.”

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