A story about two female politicians in Canada. One goes from local politics as mayor to the national parliament (Dianne Watts), the other goes from parliament to local government (Bonnie Crombie). The article discusses incivility in parliament; quotas and local politics.
Unfortunately, Watts runs the argument of 'merit' and talks about taking something away from the 'trailblazers'. This view locks women into a system that favours the patriarchy. Because some survived a system designed to marginalise women this does not mean that women should forever face such a system - democracy demands equal gender representation.
Crombie points to the personal nature of local politics where the political parties have less control.
When it comes to women running for politics, the lack of civility in the federal chamber is mentioned as a disincentive. Only 26 per cent of MPs are female. The number is slightly higher in local government – 28 per cent of municipal councillors are women, according to 2015 statistics from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM). Just 18 per cent of Canadian mayors are female.
A committee of the FCM seeks to increase female representation with a goal of 30% by 2026 although a concern is expressed that such a target may limit what is achieved.
Interestingly, quotas are criticised by Ms Watts:
“There was not a quota system, I want to stress that. I’m not a fan,” she said. “I think women have the capability. They are smart enough … to get where they want to go on their own merit. I think it takes away from all of the women ... that have been the trailblazers and the ones that are coming up behind us.” She says it is incumbent on her and other female politicians to mentor and support young women but let them “discover their own journey.”
Ms Crombie emphasised that local politics is more personal and less dominated by party politics:
“The reality is that municipal politics is far more hands-on. You don’t have the support of a political party to develop policy, undertake communications and engage in community outreach,” Ms. Crombie says. “You need to do it yourself. At the local level, it’s about building your own brand and not relying on that of a political party which has been established in the minds of voters for generations.”