Height shouldn’t mat­ter in pol­i­tics, Wynne says

Winnipeg Free Press - SundayXtra - - LIBERAL CONVENTION - By Larry Kusch

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.

JOHN WOODS / THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

On­tario Premier Kath­leen Wynne (right) speaks with Liz Plank on­stage at a fo­rum on women in pol­i­tics at the Lib­eral con­ven­tion Satur­day.

RUTH BON­NEVILLE / WIN­NIPEG FREE PRESS

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