Women’s Descriptive Representation in Canadian Politics: Impacts of Electoral Reform

Article 4 / 7 , Vol 45 No 3 (Autumn)

Women’s Descriptive Representation in Canadian Politics: Impacts of Electoral Reform

Mark Johnson recently graduated with an M.A. in Political Science from Carleton University. He also holds graduate degrees in Communication and Political Management.

Despite significant advances in recent decades, women in Canada continue to be underrepresented in Canada’s House of Commons. Many reasons have been discussed for this gap, not the least of which is the impact of the Single Member Plurality (SMP) electoral system. Indeed, the effects of the electoral system reverberate through the candidate aspiration, nomination, and election phases. Using evidence from the Alternative Vote (AV) electoral system of Australia and the Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) electoral system of New Zealand, Canada’s electoral system will be critically evaluated from the perspective of women’s descriptive representation. The evidence suggests that, while adopting Australia’s AV system could be expected to have a minimal impact at best, should Canada switch to MMP, while no panacea for women’s underrepresentation, we would likely see a higher proportion of women elected to the House of Commons compared to results currently seen under SMP.

Mark Johnson


Despite significant advances in recent decades, women in Canada continue to be underrepresented in Canada’s House of Commons. Numerous studies have identified explanations for the mismatch between women’s proportion of the population and their representation in Canada’s House of Commons, such as persisting gender norms and biases, a masculinized political environment, lower financial and networking resources for women, and the weakness of the political left in Canada. As well, Canada’s current electoral system – Single Member Plurality (SMP) (also known as “first past the post”) – has been associated with women’s underrepresentation.

Following the federal election of 2021, Canada’s House of Commons boasted the highest proportion of women in the country’s history, with 30 per cent of the 338 total Members of Parliament (MPs) identifying as women. However, Canada is still behind many other countries, currently occupying 58th place (November 2021 data) in the world for women as a percentage of the national legislature, according to the Inter-Parliamentary Union – down from 16th place in 1997. Could electoral reform in Canada be expected to compensate for the barriers to seeing more women in politics, most notably insufficient recruitment efforts by political parties, incivility and the lack of cooperation on the campaign trail and in Parliament, and the various socioeconomic and psychological realities? These are the key factors to consider that affect women’s likelihood of aspiring to enter politics, getting nominated by a political party, and being elected, and can, to a great extent, be linked to the electoral system.

Coming out of the Fourth United Nations World Conference on Women, held in Beijing in 1995, a Platform for Action recommended that governments “take measures to ensure women’s equal access to and full participation in power structures and decision-making.” The Platform specifically called on governments to review the impact of their electoral systems on women’s representation and undertake necessary reforms. For decades, research has found higher proportions of women elected under proportional representation (PR) electoral systems. 1 While not the only factor impacting the representation of women, the electoral system is certainly an important one.

University of Calgary political science professor Melanee Thomas has pointed out that women are likely to see an increase in the numbers of women elected as a sign that they have a role to play in decision-making political institutions, thereby making the institution’s decisions more legitimate. 2 While there may be general agreement that the underrepresentation of women in Canadian politics is a problem, there is less consensus on preferred solutions. Potential ideas include formal gender quotas, reserved seats, financial incentives, and of course, electoral system reform. This article – which is an abridged version of a much longer research paper – considers whether the adoption of the Alternative Vote (AV) electoral system (used in Australia) or the Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) electoral system (used in New Zealand) could be expected to positively impact the number of women being elected in Canadian federal politics.

Approach and Methodology

This article focuses on descriptive (or “mirror”) representation, that is, what proportion of the House of Commons consists of individuals identifying as women. 3 Descriptive representation is distinct from substantive representation, which refers to the degree to which women’s interests are promoted in the legislature. This article, therefore, relates to women’s presence in the House of Commons, not their actions or policy priorities.

I chose to focus on the electoral systems of Australia and New Zealand as potential alternatives because these countries are democracies with similar origins – coming out of the British Empire – and have comparable religious, cultural, and racial contexts, relatively speaking. They also have experience using the SMP electoral system, though they both switched to different systems; Australia’s Lower House to AV in 1918 and New Zealand to MMP in 1996. Thus, their experiences could be considered reasonably comparable to the Canadian context.

The AV and MMP electoral systems also have been discussed extensively in terms of applicability to Canada. For instance, MMP has been considered in electoral reform referenda in Ontario and Prince Edward Island, and MMP was part of the election platform of Quebec’s current government. MMP was also recommended for adoption federally in Canada by the Law Commission of Canada in 2004 and the 1979 Task Force on Canadian Unity. The House of Commons also voted on MMP in 2014, and in 2016, the Special Committee on Electoral Reform reported that MMP was the system supported by the majority of the thousands of Canadians who engaged with the committee in favour of reform. 4

AV, while never put to a referendum in Canada, has nevertheless been a subject of much discussion, as it is considered the preferred system of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and the previous Liberal Party of Ontario leader pledged to implement it in Ontario. AV was also adopted (for a time) in recent years by several cities in Ontario, has been used in the past by certain provinces, and is the system that some of Canada’s major political parties use to select their leaders. As such, AV is a concept that would likely be palatable to Canadians, especially given its single-member districts and other similarities with SMP.

This research paper considers whether a new electoral system for Canada could:

  • Compensate for the socioeconomic and psychological barriers that hinder women’s participation in Canadian politics;
  • Lead to more proactive and sustained efforts on the part of the Canadian political parties to recruit and nominate women; and
  • Lead to more civility and cooperation in the Canadian federal political sphere.

Literature Review

Women in Canada won the right to vote in 1918, and the first woman (Agnes Macphail) was elected federally in 1921, but by 1979 – almost 60 years later – women still represented just 3.6 per cent of the House of Commons. There were subsequent gradual increases, with women’s representation passing 20 per cent in 1997, and then hitting 30 per cent in 2021. However, women remain far from achieving parity, and this mismatch raises questions about democratic legitimacy.

Increasing the number of women elected in Canada is more complicated than it might seem. Research has shown that Canadians are just as likely to vote for women as they are for men and potential female politicians often have stronger qualifications. 5 The main obstacles are encountered long before Election Day. In fact, even before the nomination stage. Canada remains a patriarchal society, with women often bearing a disproportionate share of family and home responsibilities. Women, in general, are disadvantaged in terms of the professional connections, social capital, and self-confidence that spur people to seek electoral nominations. 6 As well, women tend to express less interest in joining the political world, they are less likely than men to be recruited by parties, and they are also less likely to respond positively to parties’ recruitment efforts. 7 As observed by former Canadian Minister for the Status of Women Maryam Monsef, “If you know a woman who would make a terrific representative for your community or municipality, ask her to run. And then ask her 14 more times, because that’s how long it could take to convince her she has what is needed.” 8

It is important to recognize that being in a position to run for a party nomination or elected office is, in itself, to be in a position of privilege. Individuals must possess the motivation, resources, and lifestyle to match political life. Women’s access to politics is hindered by the persisting gender wage gap in Canada, as economic security is critical given that months off work are often required to campaign for a nomination and election. 9 In general, women in Canada also tend to have less time for and access to networking opportunities, they are more likely to hold precarious or part-time work, less likely to work in careers seen as linked to politics like law and business, and less likely to be promoted in the workplace, hindering leadership experience and capacity. 10 Women are also less likely to be party members to begin with, 11 are even more underrepresented among riding association presidencies, 12 and report being less likely to perceive themselves as qualified to seek election. 13

Women’s underrepresentation in the House of Commons has consequences beyond the obvious questions of legitimacy. It means fewer female political role models; and, in the relative absence of these figures, women may have less confidence about their political abilities and fall prey to patterns that “are rooted in, and fed by, socialization and gender roles that discourage politics as a vocation for women.” 14 Granted, there have been moves in recent years by Canada’s major political parties to recruit more women (and other equity-seeking groups), especially by the Liberals, NDP, and Greens, who each require a diversity search committee as part of candidate nominations. 15 However, the decentralized nature of candidate selection in Canada makes coordinated efforts to elect more women difficult to implement. Heather MacIvor, a former professor of political science at the University of Windsor, noted that SMP has produced a strong and fiercely guarded traditional local party control over candidate selection, but even in cases where the party centre appointed candidates, the Samara Centre for Democracy found that appointees tend to be men. 16

Gender quotas, which can help overcome some of the systemic barriers to seeing more women elected, are used in over 100 democracies, but not in Canada – at least, not in the legal sense. From requiring that women replace incumbents to requiring at least one female candidate before a nomination is concluded, there are many options that political parties – as the real gatekeepers – can use to elect more women, but efforts to date have been insufficient if parity is the goal. Male candidates have been found to receive more party funding than women candidates, perhaps because SMP incentivizes parties to focus on winnable districts, where women are less likely to be running. 17 Major parties also sometimes protect nominations for sitting MPs – who tend to be white men – which is also counterproductive in terms of increasing women’s representation. 18

Even if a woman in Canada was interested in entering Canadian politics, what about the barrier presented by the knowledge of what is in store for her, should she be nominated or elected? The Canadian news media’s interest in leadership style, personal appearance, and private lives could certainly be a disincentive for many. 19 For example, examining the 2004 Conservative Party of Canada leadership race, University of Alberta political science professor Linda Trimble found that roughly one-third of related news stories mentioned the physical appearance of candidate Belinda Stronach, while only two per cent mentioned that of candidate Stephen Harper. Women’s family life is analyzed to a greater degree than is the case for men, and at least partly as a result of media coverage, women have been found to self-censor in terms of speech, dress, behaviour, and even public event attendance in order to discourage journalists from focusing on their gender. 20 Dr. Trimble notes that women also face a double standard on children: if they do have children, they are questioned about their capacity to perform as leaders while caring for their families, and if they are childless, they are considered suspect for being unable or unwilling to fulfill their presumed biological destiny. 21 Former Prime Minister Kim Campbell, for example, faced characterizations of being unstable and unreliable because she was twice divorced and childless.

Brenda O’Neill, associate professor of political science at the University of Calgary, found that women are less interested in politics when the atmosphere is hostile and adversarial – and Canadian politics is known for both of these traits. For example, the Samara Centre has quoted current or former MPs as referring to Question Period as “kids in a sandbox” and “the greatest embarrassment,” 22 given the tendency for screaming matches and insults; one former MP even commented that “booze, caffeine, testosterone and ego” 23 fuel the House of Commons. It is also no surprise that the toxicity in legislatures branches out to social media – with female politicians bearing the brunt of the attacks. For example, it was reported that Cathy Bennett, former Minister of Finance in Newfoundland and Labrador, stepped down after receiving emails and social media communications containing, among other negative suggestions, encouragement to kill herself. 24 Former Alberta premier Rachel Notley “earned” the title of being the most threatened Alberta premier on record – and by a wide margin. Former federal Conservative Cabinet Minister Gerry Ritz was forced to apologize in 2017 when he referred to then-Environment Minister Catherine McKenna as “Climate Barbie” on Twitter, 25 but the moniker would continue to be used by many Twitter accounts following that time. Canada’s electoral commissioner, in 2019, argued that online harassment of political figures not only interferes with citizens’ ability to participate in the electoral process but can also prevent some (disproportionately women and people of colour) from experiencing an equitable opportunity to inform voters of their policy platforms. Witnessing the terrible conditions that many women politicians’ experience, women on the outside may opt to exclude themselves as potential candidates.

While toxicity in politics has been the reality for decades and is hardly exclusive to SMP systems, SMP is seen as encouraging such conduct. Because a couple of percentage points difference in the polls can mean rocketing a party from opposition to majority government, there is the incentive to go on to the attack, and the realities of SMP discourage inter-party collaboration. While coalition government is the norm in many democracies, Canada has never had a coalition government at the national level. 26 Without coalitions, minority governments are fragile, and “snap elections” are disadvantageous to women because many may have to think carefully about how going into politics will affect their job and family, and a short nomination period is a definite barrier for women in particular. 27 Research suggests women tend to prefer political environments that are more collegial and collaborative, but with SMP, especially in minority situations, the constant threat of an election call causes parties to engage in “the permanent campaign,” always in electioneering mode and attacking their opponents. Even with majority governments, there is much toxicity, in that governments have no incentive to collaborate (despite almost never having won a majority of Canadians’ votes), and they can control the legislative agenda, impose time allocation to limit debate, and play games with parliamentary committees, none of which lend themselves to constructive discourse.

Even if a woman in Canada is aware of all of the above, and remains interested in entering the political realm, will she be selected as a candidate? In the 2015 and 2019 Canadian federal elections, for example, white men alone made up the majority of candidates (including 65 per cent of incumbents), despite only representing 36 per cent of Canada’s population. 28 With SMP, and only one candidate being selected per party per riding, there is overwhelming pressure on local riding associations to pick a “winnable candidate” – and that tends to be a man. 29 Research by Carleton University political science professor William Cross found that, when there is an opening in a riding (i.e., no incumbent) and a woman stands for the nomination, she is significantly more likely to be challenged than is the case if only a man stands for nomination. 30 With fewer networks, fewer financial resources, and greater socioeconomic barriers, a woman is generally less likely to be the widely-known, highly-connected, and confident candidate that a riding association would prefer. Looking at the 2004-2015 period, for example, the Samara Centre found that women made up just 28 per cent of nomination contestants in Canadian federal politics. 31 The problem is not that women cannot win nominations or that voters will not choose women – the challenge is creating conditions that permit more women to run in the first place, and addressing the formidable systemic barriers that persist.

Sylvia Bashevkin, a political science professor at the University of Toronto, has commented that higher representation of women in legislatures has been associated with “lower levels of political conflict, greater emphasis on collective consensus-building, and higher standards of interpersonal respect,” as well as a “more reasonable and more collegial, less adversarial and less conflictual tenor of debate.” 32 If an electoral system change could lead to more collaboration and bridge-building, the environment of the House of Commons would likely be more enticing to women.

The myriad factors outlined above are just some of the reasons that women are less represented in the figurative pool of potential candidates for Canadian elections. Overarching much of these concerns is SMP, which is consistently noted as a key reason for women’s underrepresentation in Canadian politics. Using data from the Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, looking at the top 25 countries on women’s representation in national legislatures, among those considered partly or fully free by Freedom House, all but one – Grenada – use a form of PR. MacIvor noted that, while electoral systems may not by themselves determine the level of women’s parliamentary representation, disproportional systems like SMP impose “formidable barriers” to the nomination and election of women candidates.

Canada’s political parties may highlight increased nominations of women in recent years, but what about when those women are nominated in unwinnable ridings? For example, in the 2011 Canadian federal election, 62 per cent of women candidates were running in the stronghold of another party. 33 Seeing other women constantly losing elections would certainly not be encouraging to women considering running for office, and women often being nominated in unwinnable ridings can reinforce erroneous perceptions that women are somehow less qualified or weaker politicians.

The existing literature outlines many of the barriers to women’s equal representation in Canada’s House of Commons. Whether a change in the electoral system would solve many of the problems merits investigation. I will now review evidence from the AV and MMP electoral systems of Australia and New Zealand, respectively.


Alternative Vote – Australia

Australia’s AV system is rather similar to SMP, with single-member districts and a tendency for majority governments to emerge with a minority of the nationwide vote. Australia’s AV system simply adds a preferential ballot whereby citizens rank-order their choices. MPs are elected in an instant run-off system: after the votes are tallied, if no one candidate has a majority of votes, the last-place candidate is dropped and their votes are recounted according to those voters’ second choice, and this continues until one candidate has a majority.

AV differs from SMP in that it, at least in theory, promotes collaboration and civility on the campaign trail. In fact, one of the primary reasons for Australia’s switch from SMP to AV over 100 years ago was “to encourage and reward collaboration or coalition arrangements between parties.” 34 In Australia, the right-leaning National and Liberal parties have maintained a coalition for decades, both in and out of government. So-called “strategic voting” is less of an issue under AV, since voters can choose a minor or fringe party as their top choice, knowing that their second or subsequent choice might eventually contribute to the winner (while in SMP, that ballot would ultimately count for nothing in terms of electing a candidate). A number of Australian parties have actually distributed “how to vote” cards to their supporters, to help guide vote rankings. 35 Parties are incentivized to bargain, compromise, and cooperate in search of electoral victory, unlike the zero-sum game of SMP. In Australia, minor parties that may have been shut out under SMP can also achieve some leverage with the AV system by calling on supporters to hold back from casting second choices for a major party candidate unless that candidate or party agrees to support some of the minor party’s issues. 36

In theory, the incentive to court supporters of other parties (for second and subsequent choices on the ballot) encourages civility since, for example, candidate A running an attack advertisement against candidate B could anger candidate B, potentially causing their supporters to rank candidate A lower on their ballot. Evidence suggests that this situation does occur in Australian elections, though negative advertising certainly still exists. 37 Recent research out of the United States, looking at municipalities that switched from SMP to AV, did find that voters were generally more satisfied with election conduct and found more civility among candidates under AV. When running for office, women in general are less likely to employ negative advertising themselves, and their conciliatory style may avoid alienating other candidates’ supporters under AV, increasing their electoral chances. 38

Women politicians in Australia, like their Canadian counterparts, have reported preferring more friendly, consensus-based politics. 39 Unfortunately, AV’s incentives to be friendlier on the campaign trail have not carried over to the Australian Lower House – the House of Representatives. In Australia, like Canada, men tend to be seen as the “safer option” in nominations (even though women are just as electable), and women politicians report being subject to persistent gendered attacks that do not happen to their male counterparts. 40 For example, Julia Gillard, who served as Australia’s first and only female prime minister (2010 – 2013), was routinely demonized for being unmarried and childless while in office, and political debate over the contentious carbon tax brought in under her administration (among other matters) often degenerated into gendered vitriol. One male Liberal senator criticized her leadership abilities because of her being “deliberately barren.” 41 In 2012, partly as a result of repeated derogatory sexist remarks from then-opposition leader Tony Abbott, Gillard gave a speech with passionate pleas for less sexism in Parliament. In response, she was accused by opponents and media observers of hysteria, “playing the gender card,” and speaking based on emotion rather than reason. 42 Subsequent surveys found that the way Gillard was treated following that speech – and the sexism she encountered more generally – has led to most Australian women with political aspirations to second-guess those ambitions. 43 Australia, like Canada, also sees gendered media coverage of politicians, and frequent gendered attacks occurring on social media.

Australian women also face similar socioeconomic barriers to their entry into politics, with a gender pay gap, fewer networking opportunities, and generally lower levels of political awareness and ambition. 44 When women do want to run in Australian elections, like in Canada, parties are the gatekeepers for candidate nominations, and local party members largely control the process, with men consistently selected more than women. Women are also more likely to be nominated as candidates in unwinnable districts. 45 Gender quotas are voluntary, and of the major parties, only the left-leaning Labour Party (which has near parity in its caucus) – has imposed an internal target for nominating more women. 46 While the Liberal Party has an internal target of 50 per cent women MPs by 2025, the percentage of women in its caucus, as of 2019, was actually lower than a decade earlier. 47 Overall, the percentage of women in the House of Representatives, in 2019, at 31 per cent, was only just barely above Canada’s 30 per cent, and Australia’s number had not changed much over the previous two decades.

Mixed Member Proportional – New Zealand

While New Zealand’s MMP system retains certain key components of SMP – most notably single-member districts with representatives elected by plurality vote – it does ensure proportionality between the overall party vote and legislative representation. Sixty-five MPs are elected in constituencies, while another 48 “at large” MPs are elected via lists established by the political parties, and an additional seven electorate (riding) MPs are elected by Māori (Indigenous) individuals. Citizens receive a ballot with two votes – one for a party and one for a candidate. The winner of the candidate vote becomes the MP for the district, but the idea is that, if a party receives 40 per cent of the vote on the party side of the ballot, it should hold as close as possible to 40 per cent of the seats in the legislature, and list MPs are elected to bridge that gap. The party list is “closed,” meaning that parties and not voters determine the list and order, though New Zealanders can, of course, join the political parties in hopes of influencing the party list. Closed lists are associated with higher representation of women than open lists, where voters have the opportunity to re-arrange the order of the list. 48

New Zealand switched from SMP to MMP for the 1996 election, and one of the arguments for the change was that the system would lead to improved representation of women. 49 Indeed, following the 1996 election, the proportion of women elected immediately jumped by more than half. MMP is believed to have placed significant pressure on New Zealand’s parties to place women in winnable positions on the party list. That said, even though New Zealand was led by a female prime minister from 1997 to 2008, the growth in women’s representation was slow or even stagnant in the years immediately following the 1996 election. It then jumped from 31 to 38 per cent in 2017, and to 48 per cent in 2020, where it stands today. The 2020 election also marked the first time that more women MPs were elected in constituencies than from the party lists. 50 Similar to Canada and Australia, centre-left parties in New Zealand have higher proportions of women in their caucuses than do parties of the right. The presence of a popular female leader in current Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern – who gave birth while in office – may have helped inspire more women to consider entering politics. While an electoral system on its own is unlikely to address the gender wage gap, tear down sexist stereotypes and traditional gender roles, or smash the patriarchy, seeing strong women in positions of leadership can serve as a source of inspiration to bring more women into politics.

There is certainly sexism and gendered media coverage in New Zealand, and the absence of the preferential ballot in elections for MPs means that particular incentive for civility in local campaigns is absent, as it is with SMP. However, New Zealand politics today is relatively collegial, and Manon Tremblay, professor of political studies at the University of Ottawa, notes that the adversarial nature of SMP was in fact a primary factor in New Zealanders’ decision to switch to MMP. 51 Former New Zealand MP Charles Chauvel believes MMP has “changed the way politics is conducted and perceived in New Zealand,” with a new era of consensus over policy decisions since PR means parties must usually work together to pass legislation. 52 The system has proven to be highly stable, and coalition government is the norm. Since 1996, no New Zealand government has lost the confidence of the House of Representatives, and all budgets have passed. Post-election collaboration within the House of Representatives has created conditions more generally amenable to women joining politics.

While in a system like SMP, riding associations are pressed to choose a winnable candidate, in a PR system with party lists, it would be a disadvantage for a party to present a list consisting solely of persons of a single trait (e.g., men). There is also evidence that New Zealanders are ready and willing to punish parties that exclude women from winnable positions. 53 Parties are therefore compelled to seek out and nominate more women – an incentive that is lacking in Canada and Australia. Former New Zealand Prime Minister Jim Bolger, who led the right-wing National Party, said that the party list feature of MMP “delivered” for women. 54 In proportional systems, women candidates tend to be seen as assets and are deliberately added to party lists to entice women voters. New Zealand’s parties are required by law to use “democratic procedures” 55 to build the party lists, and they de facto need to ensure broad appeal, while in SMP, choosing a candidate in a riding is a zero-sum game that, by definition, is exclusionary.


While typically not atop the Canadian public agenda, the electoral system is arguably the most central component underpinning the nature of our democracy, given its impacts on parties, candidate selection, representation, and government creation and performance. This article has considered whether the adoption of AV or MMP in Canada could be expected to increase women’s representation. The evidence suggests that the adoption of AV could have a minimal positive impact, while MMP could have a major positive impact. Nothing in this research suggests that, if electing more women is the goal, including improving civility in campaigning and collaboration in the House of Commons, SMP is preferable to the alternatives explored.

Different countries have different factors at play, but the clear finding across studies is that PR systems pose fewer barriers to achieving representative outcomes than do majoritarian systems like SMP, and there is no reason to expect that Canada would be an exception. It is important to recognize that, even without electoral reform, women’s representation could still be improved in the short term through action by the parties to nominate more women candidates. However, the extremely decentralized nature of party nominations in Canada makes change difficult to realize, and the systemic barriers remain. The socioeconomic and psychological conditions that hinder women’s participation in Canadian politics will also not disappear quickly and go well beyond the scope of an electoral system. While no panacea, an electoral reform like MMP could shake the complacency of Canadian politics and perhaps usher in a new era of increased civility and collaboration, action on the ingrained and patriarchal barriers that keep many women out of politics, and a push for parties to recruit more women as candidates.

AV and MMP are both tested and realistic options for Canada to consider as it investigates ways to improve the political participation and representation of women. Of the two alternatives examined, MMP holds the most promise in terms of increasing the number of women running for and being elected to Canada’s House of Commons.


1 Norris, P. (2004). Electoral Engineering: Voting Rules and Political Behavior. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

2 Thomas, M. (2013). Barriers to women’s political participation in Canada. University of New Brunswick Law Journal, 64, 218-233.

3 For the purposes of this article, “women” and “female” will be used interchangeably to represent those who were both born a member of the female sex and continue to identify as female. This research does not encompass the transgender community.

4 https://www.ourcommons.ca/Content/Committee/421/ERRE/Reports/RP8655791/errerp03/errerp03-e.pdf

5 See for example Black, J. H & Erickson, L. (2000). Similarity, compensation, or difference? A comparison of female and male office-seekers. Women & Politics, 21(4), 1-38.

6 O’Neill, B. (2015). Unpacking gender’s role in political representation in Canada. Canadian Parliamentary Review, 38(2), 22-30.

7 Cheng, C. & Tavits, M. (2011). Informal influences in selecting female political candidates. Political Research Quarterly, 64(2), 460-471.

8 https://globalnews.ca/news/3574060/gender-equality-in-canada-where-do-we-stand-today/

9 Thomas, 2013

10 O’Neill, 2015

11 Thomas, 2013

12 Gauja, A. & McSwiney, J. (2019). Do Australian Parties Represent? In K. Heidar and B. Wauters (Eds.), Do Parties Still Represent? (pp. 47-65). London, UK: Routledge.

13 Jalalzai, F. & Krook, M. L. (2010). Beyond Hillary and Benazir: women’s political leadership worldwide. International Political Science Review, 31(1), 5-21.

14 Tossutti, L. & Hilderman, J. (2014). Representing Canadians: Is the 41st Parliament Still a Vertical Mosaic? In E. Gidengil and H. Bastedo (Eds.), Canadian Democracy from the Ground Up: Perceptions and Performance (p. 178). Vancouver: UBC Press.

15 Dasko, D. (2021, April 10). Political parties are setting up female candidates to fail. The Globe and Mail, p. O3.

16 https://www.samaracanada.com/docs/default-source/reports/party-favours-by-the-samara-centre-for-democracy.pdf

17 https://ici.radio-canada.ca/info/2019/elections-federales/femmes-hommes-probabilites-vote-egalite-chateaux-forts/index-en.html

18 https://www.hilltimes.com/2022/03/23/incumbent-conservative-mps-to-be-shielded-from-nomination-challenges-if-they-raise-15000-donate-3350-to-the-party-tory-sources-say/351039

19 Tossutti & Hilderman, 2014

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21 https://policyoptions.irpp.org/fr/magazines/september-2018/media-undermine-women-political-leaders/

22 https://www.samaracanada.com/research/political-leadership/mp-exit-interviews/volume-i/it’s-my-party-report/lights-camera-question-period

23 https://www.samaracanada.com/docs/default-source/reports/the-real-house-lives-by-the-samara-centre-for-demoracy.pdf?sfvrsn=b893062f_2

24 https://globalnews.ca/news/3122297/newfoundland-minister-speaks-out-about-vile-and-sexually-exploitative-comments/

25 https://www.ctvnews.ca/politics/mckenna-calls-out-outgoing-conservative-mp-for-sexist-climate-barbie-tweet-1.3597464

26 During World War I, Prime Minister Robert Borden lured some pro-conscription Liberals over to his Conservative government, but it was not a “coalition” – the Liberals remained a separate party in the House of Commons.

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28 https://ici.radio-canada.ca/info/2021/elections-federales/minorites-visibles-diversite-autochtones-racises-candidats-politique/en

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31 https://www.samaracanada.com/docs/default-source/reports/party-favours-by-the-samara-centre-for-democracy.pdf

32 Bashevkin, S. (2009). Women, Power, Politics: The Hidden Story of Canada’s Unfinished Democracy. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

33 Thomas, M. & Bodet, M. A. (2013). Sacrificial lambs, women candidates, and district competitiveness in Canada. Electoral Studies, 32, 153-166.

34 Reilly, B. (2009). Democracy in Divided Societies: Electoral Engineering for Conflict Management (p. 24). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

35 Cross, W. (2017). Electoral System Reform: Implications for Internal Party Democracy. In A. Potter, D. Weinstock and P. J. Loewen (Eds.), Should We Change How We Vote? Evaluating Canada’s electoral system (p. 67). Montréal: McGill-Queen’s University Press.

36 Richie, R. & Hill, S. (1999). This Time let the Voters Decide: The Proportional Representation Movement in the United States. In H. Milner (Ed.), Making Every Vote Count: Reassessing Canada’s Electoral System (pp. 179-188). Peterborough, ON: Broadview Press.

37 https://www.samaracanada.com/docs/default-source/reports/party-favours-by-the-samara-centre-for-democracy.pdf

38 John, S., Smith, H., & Zack, E. (2018). The alternative vote: do changes in single-member voting systems affect descriptive representation of women and minorities? Electoral Studies, 54, 90-102.

39 https://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/ABS@.nsf/94713ad445ff1425ca25682000192af2/3067a337a2f2c855ca2569de001fb2dc!OpenDocument

40 https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-48197145

41 Squires, N. (2007, November 26). An uneasy ascent; Deputy PM faces jibes about ex-lovers, choice of hairstyle. National Post, p. A3.

42 See for example Sorrentino, J., Augoustinos, M. & Le Couteur, A. (2019). “[It] does not explain everything … , nor does it explain nothing … it explains some things”: Australia’s first female Prime Minister and the dilemma of gender. Feminism & Psychology, 29(1), 19-39.

43 https://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/more-women-turning-off-politics-after-julia-gillard-was-badly-treated/news-story/321177664cf100e0316704bad5c5f8a6

44 See for example https://www.kas.de/en/web/politikdialog-asien/single-title/-/content/women-policy-and-political-leadership-1

45 King, A. & Leigh, A. (2010). Bias at the ballot box? testing whether candidates’ gender affects their vote. Social Science Quarterly, 91(2), 324-343.

46 https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-05-01/vote-compass-election-women-quotas/11053956?nw=0&r=HtmlFragment

47 Ibid

48 Rosen, J. (2013). The effects of political institutions on women’s political representation: a comparative analysis of 168 countries from 1992 to 2010. Political Research Quarterly, 66(2), 306-321.

49 Nagel, J. H. (1999). The Defects of its Virtues: New Zealand’s Experience with MMP. In H. Milner (Ed.), Making Every Vote Count: Reassessing Canada’s Electoral System (pp. 157-169). Peterborough, ON: Broadview Press.

50 https://www.parliament.nz/en/get-involved/features/new-zealand-women-mps-continuing-to-break-barriers/

51 Tremblay, M. (2005). Women’s political representation: Does the electoral system matter? Political Science, 57(1), 59-75.

52 Chauvel, C. (2011). A Better Democracy, Thanks to MMP. In C. Morris, J. Boston and P. Butler (Eds.), Reconstituting the Constitution (p. 200). Heidelberg, Germany: Springer-Verlag.

53 Curtin, J. (2008). Gendering Parliamentary Representation: A Mixed System Producing Mixed Results. In M. Tremblay (Ed.), Women and Legislative Representation: Electoral Systems, Political Parties, and Sex Quotas (pp. 191-202). New York, NY: Palgrave MacMillan.

54 https://policyoptions.irpp.org/magazines/votes-and-seats/new-zealand-adopts-pr-a-prime-ministers-view/

55 https://www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/1993/0087/latest/whole.html#DLM307519