An article on the Candidate Gender Equity Bill in Canada - to tie state funding of election campaigns to party performance in pre-selecting women candidates.
Canada has a democratic deficit that is fairly widely acknowledged. The "first past the post" electoral system denies the majority of people a voice in decision-making. We also know that minority groups are badly underrepresented at all stages of decision making, with marginalized groups, people living with disabilities, and the poor most affected.
Correcting all of this is a monumental task, but one that needs to begin now. One of the most obvious actions, because it affects a large population, would be to enact a fairly simply tool to include more women in parliament.
Canada has a terrible record with electing women to the House of Commons. Out of a ranking of 185 positions, Canada comes as the 61st country on the list with women accounting for only 26 per cent of the seats in the House of Commons.
We might expect to come after progressive and wealthy countries like Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Finland, and Denmark, but it's something of a surprise to be so far behind Rwanda, Bolivia, Mozambique, Mexico, Argentina, and Portugal. If these and other countries that struggle so hard with economic and political problems can be more representative why can't we?
The simple answer is because it hasn't been important in Canada, at least up until now.
At this moment in time there is a good possibility for change. Canada has a prime minister who frankly calls himself a feminist and other members of Parliament are not afraid of this label either. One of these is Kennedy Stewart (NDP Burnaby South) who has introduced a private member's bill into the House of Commons called the Candidate Gender Equity Act.
This bill would tie the subsidies each party receives from government to the proportion of women candidates in the election. Currently political parties are granted up to 50 per cent of their election expenses by the government. If the Candidate Gender Equity Act is approved, parties that did not select a roughly equal number of men and women to run in an election (a 10 per cent difference is allowed), then their subsidy would be reduced.
Update 7 June 2016 - see http://www.the-peak.ca/2016/06/former-sfu-prof-introduces-gender-equity-bill-to-parliament/