Di­ver­sity, in­clu­sion and the Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive Party

Cana­di­ans need di­verse po­lit­i­cal lead­ers, on all sides of the Leg­is­la­ture, to en­able gov­ern­ments use bet­ter re­search to in­form pub­lic pol­icy.

The Coast - - THE CITY - BY JEN­NIFER SEARLE

Gen­der bias is real. Health re­search high­lights the risks as­so­ci­ated with gen­der bias and the ben­e­fits of in­cor­po­rat­ing di­ver­sity to gain a broader, more in­formed ap­proach to mak­ing de­ci­sions about pub­lic health. Health re­search has also re­vealed the lim­i­ta­tions of us­ing men to re­flect the needs of the pub­lic, which sup­ports a larger con­ver­sa­tion about di­ver­sity. Canada has been rec­og­nized across the globe for our di­ver­sity, but this im­age is wa­ver­ing.

An­drew Scheer nor­mal­izes ex­clu­sion by sid­ing with racists to crit­i­cize our prime min­is­ter. Doug Ford doesn’t heed the as­ser­tion of No­bel Prize-win­ning econ­o­mists that a cli­mate cri­sis could be avoided through de­vel­op­ing eco­nomic poli­cies around car­bon tax­a­tion. These straight, white, gen­der-nor­ma­tive men serve as a cau­tion­ary tale that the Cana­dian elec­torate can (and should) learn from.

Lever­ag­ing my les­bian per­spec­tive to chal­lenge the sta­tus quo has most re­cently in­volved join­ing the PC Party of NS. It’s im­por­tant to share the strategy be­hind the most po­lit­i­cal de­ci­sion I’ve ever made. It’s a sig­nif­i­cant de­par­ture from the Lib­eral I’ve al­ways been. My les­bian iden­tity is com­prised of be­ing woman-iden­ti­fied within LGBTQ2S com­mu­ni­ties. Of the five can­di­dates in the PC Party of NS lead­er­ship race, two are women and one is a gay man. Ev­ery can­di­date is white and gen­der nor­ma­tive, but change comes with small vic­to­ries, so this is an im­por­tant shift to sup­port.

Gov­ern­ments use re­search to in­form pol­icy change, but I’m con­cerned about the ca­pac­ity of our cur­rent politi­cians to do this ef­fec­tively. Scheer and Ford haven’t demon­strated this ca­pac­ity. With this in mind, I won­der if a lack of di­ver­sity in pol­i­tics hin­ders in­form­ing po­lit­i­cal de­ci­sion-mak­ing with re­search. Cana­di­ans need di­verse po­lit­i­cal lead­ers, on all sides of the Leg­is­la­ture, to en­able gov­ern­ments to bet­ter use re­search to in­form pol­icy. Busi­nesses that are suc­cess­ful with di­ver­sity and in­clu­sion ini­tia­tives are shown to per­form bet­ter, which makes this an area where gov­ern­ments can learn from the pri­vate sec­tor.

For the first time in the his­tory of the PC Party, there is a chance that a straight white man might not win the lead­er­ship race—but it won’t be a woman. Polls put the fe­male can­di­dates be­hind all three male can­di­dates. Ce­cil Clarke is the gay, white man who re­ceived threats that he would be “shamed” out of the closet if he ran in the lead­er­ship race. The polls put him in sec­ond place.

De­pend­ing on the out­come of this week­end’s vote, the sta­tus quo could be up­held and gov­ern­ments will con­tinue to lack di­verse rep­re­sen­ta­tion by prop­a­gat­ing a myth that di­ver­sity causes dis­sent.

Civic en­gage­ment is in­cred­i­bly im­por­tant (and some­thing in which I am priv­i­leged to be in­volved), and for a party who hasn’t had a win in al­most 20 years in our so-called “have-not” province, it might be time to look at what the re­search tells us. We need to do some­thing dif­fer­ently if we want a bet­ter out­come, and mem­bers of the party need to send a mes­sage of zero tol­er­ance for hate.

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