Canadian Greens Making History #IWD2021

For #IWD2021 we celebrate the remarkable achievements of Green Party women in Canada.

Here in Brantford—Brant, Nora Fueten has been our most successful Candidate so far, winning 7% of the vote when she ran in the old riding of Brant in 2008.

I was fortunate to have Nora’s wisdom as my Campaign Manager in the 2019 Brantford—Brant federal election..

Elizabeth May made history as the very first Green elected in Canada when she became the Member of Parliament representing Saanich—Gulf Islands in B.C.

Elizabeth served as the Leader of the Green Party of Canada from 2006 to 2019.  Although she stepped down as leader, Elizabeth continues to serve as MP and Green Parliamentary Leader.

On May 9th, 2017 Sonia Furstenau was elected as the B.C. Greens MLA for Cowichan Valley, making history as a member of the first provincial Green Party caucus in Canada.  Sonia was chosen Leader of the BC Greens on September 14, 2020.

On November 27th, 2017 Hannah Bell was elected to MLA for District 11 – Charlottetown-Belvedere under the PEI Greens Banner.

 

In New Brunswick, Megan Mitton was elected MLA for Memramcook-Tantramar on September 24, 2018.  She was re-elected in 2020.

The Green Party of Prince Edward Island has earned the distinction of forming first Green Official Opposition in Canadian history.

Lynne Lund, MLA for District 21 – Summerside-Wilmot, Michele Beaton, MLA for District 5 – Mermaid-Stratford, Karla Bernard, MLA for District 12 – Charlottetown-Victoria Park and Trish Altass, MLA for District 23 – Tyne Valley-Sherbrook joined Hannah Bell, giving this Opposition Party a majority of women.

PEI Green Caucus: Hannah Bell, Ole Hammarlund, Lynne Lund, Michele Beaton, Karla Bernard, Trish Altass, Steve Howard and Peter Bevan-Baker

In 2019 Jenica Atwin was elected in Fredericton, NB, making her the third elected MP of the Green Party of Canada.  Jenica makes history as the first federal Green MP from New Brunswick, and her presence in the federal GPC Caucus makes it another majority of women.

Last year the Green Party of Canada chose Annamie Paul as its new Leader. Again, the only woman leading a Canadian federal political party is a Green.  Not only does our new leader have impeccable credentials, she again makes history as the first black leader of a major Canadian political party, as well as only the second Jewish leader of a major Canadian political party.  Clearly Canada has a lot of work to do on the diversity front.

Annamie Paul will make an excellent Prime Minister.

Propportional Representation Voting

…would begin to address Canadian gender bias and inequality, creating a more inclusive Canada.

Canada’s voting system has contributed greatly to the marginalization of women in our Legislatures.  In all of Canada’s history we have had but a single woman serve as Prime Minister.  And it is important to note that Conservative PM Kim Campbell didn’t come by the job through a General Election, she was left holding the bag for outgoing PM Brian Mulroney.  And that election saw the Progressive Conservative Party reduced from an actual majority government to just 2 seats in the House.  Is it any wonder there hasn’t been another female Prime Minister since?

A Fair Vote Canada political campaign button reads: Fair Voting elects more women...naturally.

When the field is level, women are more likely to get elected.

While I am pleased to see women beginning to take their rightful place in Canadian governance, they shouldn’t have to make so much history.  A good Representative Democracy should represent and reflect its citizens in all their diversity.  A voting system that fails on such a basic level is inappropriate for a Representative Democracy.

After an extensive cross country consultation with Canadians and experts from around the world, Prime Minister Trudeau’s Electoral Reform Committee recommended adoption of a Proportional Representation voting system.  But because that wasn’t the winner-take-all system the PM favored, rather than fulfilling this key election promise, he pulled the plug on his own process, leaving Canadians to struggle with a voting system in which every vote does not count.

Instead of fulfilling this commitment to Canadians, the Prime Minister boasted of delivering Canada’s first gender balanced Cabinet.  But as we saw with the 2015 Liberal majority government, our “feminist” PM used his power to summarily silence the voices of women in that Cabinet by ousting Jody Raybould Wilson and Jane Philpott from the Liberal caucus.

Canada is the only OECD nation without a single instance of Proportional Representation at any level of government, making it singularly difficult for us to understand the significance of a voting system in determining election outcomes.  The clearest example of the difference between winner-take-all and proportional voting system can be found in this Australian government graph that indicates the number of women elected to their disproportional House of Representatives (represented by the green lines) and comparing it to the number of women elected to their proportionally elected Senate (represented by red lines.)  The same voters elected both houses of the Australian  Parliament in the same elections,  and the different election outcomes  were  certainly  influenced  by  the voting systems.

In a white patriarchy saddled with a First Past The Post voting system it is much easier for a white man to get elected.  Which makes it far more difficult to convince women and more diverse candidates to stand for election.

The Green Party is committed to meaningful electoral reform to Proportional Representation so that Canadians will get the diverse representation we deserve.  The more voices at the table, the better our public policy will be.

It is interesting to note that the very first Canadian woman ever elected to public office was Calgary’s Annie Gale, elected with the Proportional Representation voting system..

Proportional Representation won’t just level the playing field, it will tone down the rhetoric and personal attacks that also arise from our adversarial system, making the political system less toxic.   I have no doubt we will get more women in politics with a fair voting system.   It is 2021, after all.

 

About Bob Jonkman (he/him/his)

Bob Jonkman is a former Green Party of Canada candidate. He ran in Brantford-Brant for the 2019 federal election, and in Kitchener-Conestoga for the 2018 provincial and 2015 federal elections. Follow @BobJonkmanGPC on Twitter.
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