Swinging the female vote

News Nov 22, 2006 Flamborough Review

The first school I attended was MacPhail Public School in North Bay. Schools, like city streets and arenas, are usually named for famous people but as a Kindergarten student I neither knew nor cared whose name graced our school.

Years later, I learned that our school had been named for a woman, and a famous one at that. Agnes Campbell MacPhail (1890-1954) was the first woman in Canada to be elected to the Canadian House of Commons. She was one for four women who ran for office in the 1921 federal election, the first in which women were able to vote and run as canadidates. That was 85 years ago and women have made some significant gains since then. But even so, they remain under-represented in Parliament as well as in provincial legislatures.

At the close of nominations for the January 23 federal election, there were 380 women among the 1,634 candidates confirmed by Elections Canada. They represent about 23 per cent of the candidates seeking a seat in the House of Commons.

When you look at the party-by-party representation, things get interesting. Of the four major political parties, the NDP has the highest number of female candidates. Of their 308 candidates, 108 (35.1 per cent) are women. The Bloc Quebecois runs a respectable second with 23 (30.7 per cent) of its 75 candidates being female. The Liberals have 79 female candidates (25.6 per cent) and 229 males while the Conservative Party has 38 women (12.4 per cent) running and 270 men.

There are, of course, a lot of factors at play. Voting patterns apparently show that most women voters aren't enamoured by the Conservative Party. Indeed, I don't think it's a stretch to claim that if the Conservatives could have successfully wooed the female vote in Ontario during the last federal election, we wouldn't be headed into a federal election now.

Ontario is undoubtedly the battleground for the upcoming federal election. Last time around, the Liberals took 75 seats in Ontario while the Conservatives took 24. Stephen Harper's Conservatives need to take at least 10 or 15 more to form the next government.

One riding that could help swing the balance is Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale. Most political pundits would agree that Conservative candidate David Sweet could unseat incumbent Liberal Russ Powers. Sweet lost by just 2,800 votes last time and while that might seem like a pretty healthy margin, Liberal scandals could easily wipe it away.

As the campaign heads into its final week, it'll be interesting to see if Sweet can attract a female following. It could mean the difference between success and failure for him. As an observer, I would say he has his work cut out for him.

A recent release sent out by the Liberals puts Sweet in an unfavourable light and is bound to upset some women. The statement claims that Sweet, during a 2001 interview with the publication Christian Week, said: "There's a particular reason why Jesus called men only. It's not that women aren't co-participators. It's because Jesus knew women would naturally follow."

Such comments aren't likely to woo the female vote. Sweet, past-president of Promise Keepers of Canada, a Christian evangelical group, reacted by saying his remarks were taken out of context.

Voters who want more clarity on the issue will get their chance to question Sweet and other candidates at Monday's all canididates debate at the Waterdown District High School.

It's important to attend and find out the candidates' views on a number of subjects, including childcare, education, health and social programs.

It's also important for candidates to use the opportunity to clear the air on contentious issues. How local candidates view women in the electoral process has become an issue that needs to be discussed.

Let's hope that we (the female voters in the riding) get the clarification we need before casting our ballots on January 23.

Swinging the female vote

News Nov 22, 2006 Flamborough Review

The first school I attended was MacPhail Public School in North Bay. Schools, like city streets and arenas, are usually named for famous people but as a Kindergarten student I neither knew nor cared whose name graced our school.

Years later, I learned that our school had been named for a woman, and a famous one at that. Agnes Campbell MacPhail (1890-1954) was the first woman in Canada to be elected to the Canadian House of Commons. She was one for four women who ran for office in the 1921 federal election, the first in which women were able to vote and run as canadidates. That was 85 years ago and women have made some significant gains since then. But even so, they remain under-represented in Parliament as well as in provincial legislatures.

At the close of nominations for the January 23 federal election, there were 380 women among the 1,634 candidates confirmed by Elections Canada. They represent about 23 per cent of the candidates seeking a seat in the House of Commons.

When you look at the party-by-party representation, things get interesting. Of the four major political parties, the NDP has the highest number of female candidates. Of their 308 candidates, 108 (35.1 per cent) are women. The Bloc Quebecois runs a respectable second with 23 (30.7 per cent) of its 75 candidates being female. The Liberals have 79 female candidates (25.6 per cent) and 229 males while the Conservative Party has 38 women (12.4 per cent) running and 270 men.

There are, of course, a lot of factors at play. Voting patterns apparently show that most women voters aren't enamoured by the Conservative Party. Indeed, I don't think it's a stretch to claim that if the Conservatives could have successfully wooed the female vote in Ontario during the last federal election, we wouldn't be headed into a federal election now.

Ontario is undoubtedly the battleground for the upcoming federal election. Last time around, the Liberals took 75 seats in Ontario while the Conservatives took 24. Stephen Harper's Conservatives need to take at least 10 or 15 more to form the next government.

One riding that could help swing the balance is Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale. Most political pundits would agree that Conservative candidate David Sweet could unseat incumbent Liberal Russ Powers. Sweet lost by just 2,800 votes last time and while that might seem like a pretty healthy margin, Liberal scandals could easily wipe it away.

As the campaign heads into its final week, it'll be interesting to see if Sweet can attract a female following. It could mean the difference between success and failure for him. As an observer, I would say he has his work cut out for him.

A recent release sent out by the Liberals puts Sweet in an unfavourable light and is bound to upset some women. The statement claims that Sweet, during a 2001 interview with the publication Christian Week, said: "There's a particular reason why Jesus called men only. It's not that women aren't co-participators. It's because Jesus knew women would naturally follow."

Such comments aren't likely to woo the female vote. Sweet, past-president of Promise Keepers of Canada, a Christian evangelical group, reacted by saying his remarks were taken out of context.

Voters who want more clarity on the issue will get their chance to question Sweet and other candidates at Monday's all canididates debate at the Waterdown District High School.

It's important to attend and find out the candidates' views on a number of subjects, including childcare, education, health and social programs.

It's also important for candidates to use the opportunity to clear the air on contentious issues. How local candidates view women in the electoral process has become an issue that needs to be discussed.

Let's hope that we (the female voters in the riding) get the clarification we need before casting our ballots on January 23.

Swinging the female vote

News Nov 22, 2006 Flamborough Review

The first school I attended was MacPhail Public School in North Bay. Schools, like city streets and arenas, are usually named for famous people but as a Kindergarten student I neither knew nor cared whose name graced our school.

Years later, I learned that our school had been named for a woman, and a famous one at that. Agnes Campbell MacPhail (1890-1954) was the first woman in Canada to be elected to the Canadian House of Commons. She was one for four women who ran for office in the 1921 federal election, the first in which women were able to vote and run as canadidates. That was 85 years ago and women have made some significant gains since then. But even so, they remain under-represented in Parliament as well as in provincial legislatures.

At the close of nominations for the January 23 federal election, there were 380 women among the 1,634 candidates confirmed by Elections Canada. They represent about 23 per cent of the candidates seeking a seat in the House of Commons.

When you look at the party-by-party representation, things get interesting. Of the four major political parties, the NDP has the highest number of female candidates. Of their 308 candidates, 108 (35.1 per cent) are women. The Bloc Quebecois runs a respectable second with 23 (30.7 per cent) of its 75 candidates being female. The Liberals have 79 female candidates (25.6 per cent) and 229 males while the Conservative Party has 38 women (12.4 per cent) running and 270 men.

There are, of course, a lot of factors at play. Voting patterns apparently show that most women voters aren't enamoured by the Conservative Party. Indeed, I don't think it's a stretch to claim that if the Conservatives could have successfully wooed the female vote in Ontario during the last federal election, we wouldn't be headed into a federal election now.

Ontario is undoubtedly the battleground for the upcoming federal election. Last time around, the Liberals took 75 seats in Ontario while the Conservatives took 24. Stephen Harper's Conservatives need to take at least 10 or 15 more to form the next government.

One riding that could help swing the balance is Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale. Most political pundits would agree that Conservative candidate David Sweet could unseat incumbent Liberal Russ Powers. Sweet lost by just 2,800 votes last time and while that might seem like a pretty healthy margin, Liberal scandals could easily wipe it away.

As the campaign heads into its final week, it'll be interesting to see if Sweet can attract a female following. It could mean the difference between success and failure for him. As an observer, I would say he has his work cut out for him.

A recent release sent out by the Liberals puts Sweet in an unfavourable light and is bound to upset some women. The statement claims that Sweet, during a 2001 interview with the publication Christian Week, said: "There's a particular reason why Jesus called men only. It's not that women aren't co-participators. It's because Jesus knew women would naturally follow."

Such comments aren't likely to woo the female vote. Sweet, past-president of Promise Keepers of Canada, a Christian evangelical group, reacted by saying his remarks were taken out of context.

Voters who want more clarity on the issue will get their chance to question Sweet and other candidates at Monday's all canididates debate at the Waterdown District High School.

It's important to attend and find out the candidates' views on a number of subjects, including childcare, education, health and social programs.

It's also important for candidates to use the opportunity to clear the air on contentious issues. How local candidates view women in the electoral process has become an issue that needs to be discussed.

Let's hope that we (the female voters in the riding) get the clarification we need before casting our ballots on January 23.