About the Blog:

Guelph Politico is locally sourced and dedicated to covering the political and cultural scene in the City of Guelph. Est. 2008.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Ladies First

As the leaders were revving up for their debate Thursday night, the Kovach campaign put out a press release:

Equal Voice, a non-partisan action group, is calling on women voters to support female candidates at the ballot box, and with their cheque books.

This follows their call in 2007 to the major political parties to increase the number of female candidates. In response, the Conservative Party of Canada increased its slate of female candidates to 19 per cent, from 12 per cent in the last election.

“The key now is for Canadians to support women candidates of their choice, by voting for capable women in their own ridings, or sending cheques and supporting women in the party of their choice in other ridings, Equal Voice Chair Raylene Lang-Dion said in a recent press release.

“I appreciate the call from Equal Voice to elect more women in Parliament, and their endorsement of my campaign,” said Guelph’s Federal Conservative Candidate Gloria Kovach. “I also appreciate that Equal Voice acknowledges that the Conservative Party has met their challenge of having more women stand for election.”

Of course, the thing is that the Conservatives are still fifth out of the five major parties in terms of ratio of male candidates to female. According to Canada.com, the Liberals lead with 113 out of 307 candidates, or 36.9 per cent, being female. As you'll recall, Liberal leader St├ęphane Dion had promised to increase the number of women candidates in his party to one third. Coming in second is the NDP with 104 out of 308, or a full third female representation. Greens finished third with 87 out of 305, or 28.5 per cent. With 28 per cent, the Bloc Quebecois has 21 of its 75 Quebec ridings covered by women.

Overall, its a positive trend to be sure, but I have a couple of things to add. First, I'm not sure if the Equal Voice press release can really be taken as an endorsement of Kovach's campaign specifically, which is kind of how she makes it sound. It's really kind of an endorsement of all the parties from their work in adjusting the imbalance, and that we still have a ways to go.

Second of all, the group (and Kovach) seem to be advocating the notion of voting for a female candidate simply because she is a female candidate. “Equal Voice is asking voters to improve those women’s chances of winning,” said Raylene Lang-Dion, Equal Voice's National Chair, in the press release. “When you can support a woman at the ballot box, vote for her. And support her and other women candidates financially. It is time for a breakthrough.”

Okay, fair point. But is this not the argument being used to promote Sarah Palin's bid for the Vice-Presidency in the US? Getting more women in the House of Commons is all fine and well, but isn't it more prudent to have people of any gender that are qualified, driven with purpose, and most importantly, are in line with the values and opinions that you believe in? Women add a diversity in voice to politics, not to mention a different perspective than their male colleagues more often than not, but I thought we were in near unanimous agreement: we know Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin is no Hillary Clinton.

And if Equal Voice is endorsing Gloria Kovach because she's a female candidate, then you know who else their endorsing in Guelph: Karen Levenson. Yes Virginia, there are two female candidates in this race in the Royal City, and if we're talking on terms of equality than one's as good as the other.

Also, read my Community Editorial in the Guelph Mercury this weekend. This ends my shameless plug.

1 comment:

Jerry Prager said...

Voting for a candidate just because she is female should be subject to the same intellectual scrutiny that Virginia Wolfe applied to women's writing in A Room of One's Own: in which she argued that the best women writers were those who write about our common humanity and not about being women. Voting for Kovach simply because she is a woman is sexist.