AVE SE PRONONCE
Equal Voice invites you to Be her. Support her. Celebrate her.

 

EV's Op-ed in the Ottawa Citizen: Just part of the job for Premier Alison Redford

Mar 19, 2014

 

Just Part of the Job for Premier Alison Redford 

By Nancy Peckford.

As published in the Ottawa Citizen on March 19 2014. 

 

Nobody said being premier would be easy.

 
This time last year, Equal Voice, Canada’s only multi-partisan organization dedicated to electing more women, was marking our nation’s historic achievement of six female premiers at the helm who, collectively, were governing more than 85 per cent of Canada’s population. A year later, we’re down to four women after Nunavut Premier Eva Aariak lost her seat in the territory’s fall election and Premier Kathy Dunderdale resigned in January amid very low popularity ratings, despite having won a solid majority government in 2010.
 
Now Alberta Premier Alison Redford is making the news after many inside and out of her party are openly questioning her leadership style and fiscal management. In Ontario, Kathleen Wynne is fighting for her political life in a minority government that could dissolve any day. So, what gives? Are Canada’s female premiers enjoying some particularly bad luck or is there something else at play?
 
It’s worth noting that in nearly every case, other female leaders have proven to be powerful political opponents. In Newfoundland and Labrador, provincial NDP leader Lorraine Michael was an unrelenting critic of Premier Dunderdale’s leadership. In Alberta, the Wildrose Party’s Danielle Smith is a charismatic and focused opposition leader who is shining the light on what her party asserts is unacceptable “government excess.” And anyone following Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath is certainly not under-estimating her ability to give Wynne a serious run for her money.
 
In many respects, this is a good news story. Female leaders are no longer a political anomaly — to the point where they are some of these female premiers’ most formidable foes. However, many have been irked by the criticisms lobbed at some of these women in the top jobs which include characterizations of being “out of touch”, “control freaks” and “bossy.” These words suggest a discernible sexism in how women are assessed on the job. Further, Redford’s decision to invoke her motherhood status after it was revealed that she had brought her daughter and a friend on a government plane was disregarded by many as politically convenient who said the “rules are the rules.” While, obviously, no one is advocating that politicians break the rules, the conversation shouldn’t have stopped short there either.
 
Because in many cases, the rules of the game are not conducive to the contemporary reality of being a politician and fill in your blank here: parent/caregiver /partner. For example, while federal and some provincial elected representatives are able to use travel points for their kids, other jurisdictions like Alberta have yet to update their legislation. This may be because Alberta has one of the shortest legislative sessions in the country which is fabulous for most everyone except the premier whose travel itinerary is by far the most demanding.
 
Federally, while travelling with a child using taxpayer dollars is acceptable, MPs are subject to a to a gruelling travel schedule straddling their ridings and Ottawa for over a third of the year. At a recent Liberal party convention panel which addressed politics and parenting, the spouse of a recent MP underscored the tremendous work involved in picking up the pieces for the politician-slash-parent-slash partner whose workload is, in one word, crushing.
 
Further, the technology that has revolutionized many workplaces, whether it be tele-conferencing, video conferencing, not to mention electronic voting, is not even up for discussion in many parliaments. These are just a few of the things that came up during Samara’s extensive exit interviews with a diverse range of parliamentarians — and in Equal Voice’s conversations with prospective female candidates.
Quite simply, political institutions that were conceived in an era radically different from our own continue to govern the conditions under which many politicians serve today. And they are responsible for deterring many from not running — women and men both. For them, this institutional inflexibility extends into a political culture that promotes a lack of transparency, a fear of innovation, and excessive communications management. Respected MP Michael Chong, among others, have made valiant efforts to address all three phenomena. These persistent realities are also motivating Equal Voice to survey elected women across the country to seek their input on what needs to change so that politics can be a livable and productive pursuit for these individuals and their families, not a game of survival at every turn.
 
While it may be easy to dismiss certain women leaders as “out of order” or “not up to the job”, they are a reflection of the institutions in which they must function and succeed. And more than their male counterparts, these female premiers are revealing key weaknesses in the system. Until we find a way to make serving in political office a sustainable profession that enables politicians to balance their family relationships and their well-being with their jobs, not to mention creating opportunities for politicians to share power versus hoarding it, we will be shortchanging ourselves of the talent. Talent that is urgently required to manage complex issues in complex times. And that is the real shame.
 
It’s time for a system re-boot.
 
Nancy Peckford is a parent to three very active children while also serving as the Executive Director of Equal Voice, Canada’s only national multi-partisan organization dedicated to the election of more women, with nine dynamic chapters throughout the country.

Participez... aux chapitres d'À voix égales partout au pays. Trouvez-en un près de chez vous, ou peut-être même que vous pouvez lancer un chapitre

École de campagne en ligne Osez vous lancer:
pour les femmes de tous les âges, de tous les antécédents de la société intéressées à se présenter en politique.

MORE INFO ON GETTING ELECTED TO PUBLIC OFFICE

Commanditaire Or

Commanditaire Or

Commanditaire Or

Commanditaire Argent

Commanditaire Argent

 

Commanditaire Bronze

Commanditaire Bronze

Commanditaire Bronze

Commanditaire Bronze

Commanditaire Bronze

Greenshield

Supporters

 

Supporters

Supporters

Supporters

Supporters

Supporters

SUPPORTERS

Supporters

Supporters

Merci également au gouvernement du Canada (Condition féminine et Patrimoine canadien) pour son soutien financier.