Now is the moment to seize in correcting Parliament's gender imbalance
Published Friday, March 7, 2014 1:59PM EST
Last Updated Friday, March 7, 2014 6:04PM EST
I live in a world of women without complaint.
Four women keep me under adult supervision at the home. Three female producers control me on the job.
That’s why International Women’s Day is cause for celebration, even as a lowly pale male.
But a call for action remains in one key venue: Parliament Hill. And now is the time to heed it.
Women hold, despite being elected in record numbers in 2011, just a quarter of the Commons seats and the all-important Harper cabinet positions.
What’s even more unfortunate is how under-represented women could be the key to making parliamentary politics collaborative and constructive again.
There are antagonistic exceptions of course but, as a general rule, women MPs bring out the best in the Commons.
If you want to see true parliamentary spirit in action, check out this show’s all-woman Tuesday trio of rival MPs. They have heated discussions on air, but they share a laugh and a hug as soon as the camera goes dark.
Another case in point is NDP deputy leader Megan Leslie’s friendship with Conservative ministers Michelle Rempel and Lisa Raitt, despite being polar opposites on every policy.
And consider how two-seat Green Party leader Elizabeth May was voted parliamentarian of the year by her fellow MPs as the conscience and class act of the Commons.
There are plenty of other examples which suggest an all-woman Commons would bring functionality to paralysis, respect to acrimony and dignity to disagreement.
Now is the moment to seize in correcting the imbalance as party nominations open for Election 2015.
To claim a winnable spot, women need friends on the local riding association and plenty of memberships to sell. It can’t be won on a last-minute whim.
This is a particular plea for women to fight for the Liberal banner in places where they can pick up seats under poll-topping Justin Trudeau. Women are scandalously under-represented in that caucus now and Trudeau insists there will be no female favoritism from him in wide-open nomination fights.
So Happy International Women’s Day to the 51 per cent of Canadians who are female.
Hopefully sooner rather than later, this day will be like Black History Month – a chance to celebrate those who overcame historical inequality from a position of full gender parity.