MPs give advice to their 20-year-old selves
Published Wednesday, June 22, 2016 5:33PM EDT
OTTAWA - Emilie Taman spent the better part of four months campaigning to be the MP for Ottawa Vanier. A career lawyer whose mother rose to the top ranks of the legal profession, Taman says she was repeatedly surprised at the reaction she got when she told people she was running for office.
"I was genuinely shocked by the number of people whose first comment to me upon hearing I was going to be a candidate was 'don't you have three young kids?'" Taman, who lost to incumbent Mauril Bélanger, said Wednesday. "As though the fact that I'm a mother somehow invalidated my suitability as a candidate.
Taman was one of several politicians who spoke at a press conference Wednesday on behalf of Equal Voice, a non-partisan group dedicated to encouraging more women to run for office. The organization launched a video featuring high-profile MPs like Lisa Raitt, Catherine McKenna and Niki Ashton giving advice to their 20-year-old selves.
2016 marks 100 years since the first Canadian women were given the right to vote - in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. (Federally, it took until 1919 for women and men to have equal voting rights, and Canada didn't hit universal suffrage until 1960, when First Nations men and women were finally allowed to cast ballots).
To celebrate, Equal Voice has launched a campaign called Daughters of the Vote to bring 338 women aged 18 to 23 to Ottawa next spring and talk about how to get more women involved. That's one woman for every riding in Canada.
More women were elected to the House of Commons last year than ever before, but that works out to only 26 per cent of MPs.
"Until we have significantly more women in the House of Commons, in provincial legislatures and city councils, the question, 'but aren't you a mother?' will continue to persist in the minds of some," Taman said.