Message to My Younger Self
It wasn’t until 1937, the year of King George VI’s coronation, that the Province of New Brunswick received its mace. By this time, the Parliament in Ottawa and seven provincial legislatures had long since possessed a mace of their own.
One hundred years ago, on June 7, 1917, voters in Alberta elected Louise McKinney to the provincial legislature. McKinney, who was sworn in the following year, was not only recognized as the first woman elected to a Canadian legislature, but also the first woman elected as a parliamentarian anywhere in the British Empire.
To mark this anniversary, the Canadian Parliamentary Review is pleased to present a theme issue focusing on the women who have followed (and hope to follow) in her footsteps.
Linda Reid | Janet Routledge | Leela Aheer | Cindy Lamoureaux | Linda Lapointe | Diane Lamarre | Lisa MacLeod | Caroline Cochrane | Lisa Harris | Tina Mundy | Elizabeth May | Geraldine Van Bibber | Patricia Arab |Candice Bergen | Mounique Pauzé | Collen Mayer | Julie Green | Carole Poirier | Nadine Wilson | Cathy Rogers | Catherine McKenna | Maria Fitzpatrick | Irene Mathyssen | Karen Vecchio | Tina Beaudry-Mellor | Annie McKitrick | Nicole Rancourt | Caroline Simard | Kim Schreiner | Pam Parsons | Mitzi Dean | Filomena Tassi | Bernadette Jordan | Mireille Jean | Michelle Stilwell | Deb Matthews | Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet | Kim Rudd | Carolyn Bennett |Marilyn Gladu | Kirsty Duncan | Bowinn Ma | Carlaqualtrough | Pam Damoff | Marie Renaud | Sylvia Jones | Daiene Vernile | Anne Kang | Rachel Blaney | Laurie Scott | Lisa Thompson | Louise Harel |Ginette Grandmont | Carole James | Lorraine Richard |
It took more than 75 years from the election of the first woman parliamentarian to the date when a woman parliamentarian became prime minister. Kim Campbell, who had brief tenure in the position in 1993, is also the only woman to hold the position so far. In this interview she reflects on her achievement, examines progress women have made since that time, and offers some ideas of what type of work is left to do as Canadians move towards gender equality in politics.
Manitobans are immensely proud that their province holds the distinction of being the first to give some women the right to vote. In this article, the author recounts how early suffragists waged a successful campaign to extend the franchise and profiles famous suffragette Nellie McClung’s role in the battle. She concludes by outlining some of the celebrations held in honour of the centenary in 2016 and by calling for everyone to ensure we continue the work of these pioneer women by striving for full equality for women in our democracy.
On January 28, 1916, Manitoba was the first province to grant some women the right to vote. One hundred years later Manitoba celebrated this centennial in a grand way. I was very honoured to be part of these celebrations in 2016. It was extra special for me because 2016 was also the year I became only the fourth female Speaker of the Manitoba Legislature.
In the 100 years since voters in Alberta elected the first woman parliamentarian in the country – and the entire Commonwealth – women have made great strides in building their ranks in assemblies across the country. Progress has been slow and uneven, however, and there are risks of backsliding. In this article, the author surveys the recent history and current state of women elected to parliaments in Canada and urges Canadians to continue work towards full equality in our representation.
The growing number of women parliamentarians in this country, among others, has prompted scholars to explore political workplaces through a gendered lens. Are legislatures meeting the needs of these parliamentarians and are there barriers to participation? The authors of this article examine these questions with a particular focus on work-life balance and parenthood. While questions of work-life balance affect all parliamentarians, parents raising young children – for whom women have historically assumed greater responsibility – have particular demands on their time. The authors survey recent scholarly research on women and the political workplace and find that while state support for working families appears to be valued around the world, changes to institutions and policies that would facilitate women’s and mothers’ political work, and especially their political careers, have not kept pace. The authors conclude we must rethink the way we “do” politics in order to ensure that this unique workplace is accessible for individuals across all walks of life, and at all stages of family life.
Political moms have always captured our attention. From Margaret Thatcher’s assertion after her maiden speech that she could not take on more responsibility until her children were older,1 to public interest in Julia Gillard’s decision not to have children,2 women in politics’ parental status easily makes the news. Even though she was not elected herself, Michelle Obama’s role as a mother was raised in relation to Sasha Obama’s absence from her father’s farewell speech in January 2017. Sasha had an exam the next morning, stayed home to study, and this was seen by some as proof of Michelle’s focus on parenting. Twitter was full of comments like that seen here:
When it comes to titles used in the official setting of the legislative Chamber or the slightly less formal committee room, women are in the unique position of having several conventional options for identification purposes: Miss, Mrs., or Ms.1 Each term specifies a different though similarly gendered status, whether one is single, married, or, for lack of a better term, indeterminate and thus independent of the matrimonial framework. The following article explores ways of naming women in the Legislature and is underscored by the history of general usage for women’s titles since the turn of the 20th century. Furthermore, this discussion looks toward re-evaluating aspects of current parliamentary language, with the topic of gender-neutral address.
For politicians, shaking hands, kissing babies, cutting ribbons and being on the receiving end of angry diatribes from unhappy members of the public, all come with the territory. But women parliamentarians have been speaking up and speaking out about a particularly gendered form of social media bullying, harassment and threats that appear to have become more prevalent. In this roundtable three current or former women parliamentarians discuss the abuse they’ve encountered, how they’ve responded to it, and what they believe needs to be done to combat it.
Editor’s note: This roundtable contains unparliamentary language and, in particular, a derogatory slur. Prior to publication, the editorial board had a fulsome discussion and debate about whether to run this slur uncensored. Proponents of running the term uncensored noted that Hansard policy is to run slurs in an unedited form. Moreover, as women parliamentarians have had to hear or read these terms while serving the public, there was a sense that it would be hypocritical to censor the words for other readers in an article of this type. Alternatively, some members of the board felt running the slur unedited would revictimize women by perpetuating it and that it was beneath the dignity of the magazine to do it. And, in a very practical matter, it was noted that publishing these terms unedited could influence Web search engines to lower the Canadian Parliamentary Review’s ranking on these pages. By way of compromise, we have opted to run the terms with an asterix in place of a vowel to clearly indicate the slur or language being used, but to blunt its impact and eliminate search engine concerns. However, we include this note to explain that our decision to censor was not done without careful consideration and it is a decision we do not take lightly. We invite anyone who disagrees with the decision to send a letter to the editor, and have given all participants in this roundtable the opportunity to write a response which we will print alongside this article if they disagree with our decision.