Newfoundland and Labrador EV Chapter


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In the News:

St. John's votes 5 women into municipal council making political history by winning half the council seats


Voters elected a council of 50 per cent women, for 1st time in city's history

Yoga teacher, musician, mom: The new faces of gender parity on St. John's city council

CBC News, Oct 26, 2017, Chris O'Neill Yates

Navigating the treacherous,snowy sidewalks of St. John's with a newborn baby in her arms gave Maggie Burton an idea: the city needed to better accommodate families.

"Accessibility and a family-friendly city was the [last] straw for me, and I just really wanted to get out there," said 26-year-old Burton, a musician and management consultant who is the youngest member of St. John's city council on record.

'I asked myself, should I stop complaining and put myself forward?' - Hope Jamieson

Burton is one of five women who made political history by winning half the council seats in the municipal election last month, bringing gender parity to the council for the first time.

Their win is also a victory for Equal Voice, an Ottawa-based group that encourages women to enter politics and supports them with campaign help.

Burton defeated a well-known male incumbent, garnering more votes than any other candidate in the four at-large seats.

"We knew there was a lot of discontent with the old council," said Burton.

Of 15 major Canadian cities, only Vancouver has a greater proportion of women on its city council than St. John's, with five out of nine. Victoria and Saskatoon are on par with St. John's. In Atlantic Canada, St. John's outstrips Halifax, Charlottetown, Moncton and Fredericton by sizable margins.

From no women to half women

The election of 50 per cent women in St. John's is all the more remarkable because in the previous municipal election, no woman won a seat.  However, in a byelection in 2016, Sheilagh O'Leary — now the deputy mayor — gained a spot on council. 

Hope Jamieson, 28, a yoga teacher and single mother, believes that voters elected the women to council precisely because none were elected in 2013. She believes municipal politics suffers when the perspective of women is absent.

Newly elected councillor Maggie Burton, left, pictured with Deputy Mayor Sheilagh O'Leary, is the youngest member of St. John's city council on record, at 26. (Chris O'Neill-Yates/CBC News)

In their campaigns, the female candidates focused on fiscal accountability and transparency, including a suggestion that council appoint a municipal auditor general to scrutinize council spending.

Both Jamieson and Burton say that the previous council lacked a strong voice on social housing, public transit and issues facing seniors and single-parent families.

"I asked myself, should I stop complaining and put myself forward?" said Jamieson. "And here I am."

The local chapter of Equal Voice pushed hard to recruit electable female candidates and to raise their profiles in both social media and in the mainstream media.

'We knew there was a lot of discontent with the old council.' - Maggie Burton

"It's good to see a yoga teacher, a musician ... because they're going to speak to issues that previously haven't been represented around the council table," said Lori Lee Oates, chair of Equal Voice NL.

Jamieson says being a young single mother gave her credibility and allowed her to connect with a demographic that is often unrepresented in politics.

"If you could vote for someone who honestly knows what your day-to-day life looks like and wants to bring that voice to the table … I think that resonated," said Jamieson.

Social media boost

Oates said another reason so many women got elected was because they "ruled social media."

Jamiesion admitted it helped her get elected because she did not have the money to mount a high-profile campaign but was still able to reach voters. 

Burton began her social media campaign in the spring but also used traditional methods such as campaign posters because, she says, "Not everyone is on the internet."

Burton, who had a team of 75 volunteers, maintains that old-style door-knocking and listening to voters is still a necessary part of any successful election campaign.

She says the female candidates' efforts got a lot of young people engaged in the political process.

"Now we have a ton of people who are empowered and looking to work on campaigns in the future, so I think this speaks well for a new generation of strong leadership," she said.


25% women: Gains, but no equal voice in legislature

'Big responsibility' for lone woman in PC caucus

By Marilyn Boone, CBC News Posted: Dec 02, 2015

Women will be outnumbered in the new House of Assembly three-to-one and advocates for gender parity say parties have to try harder to recruit female candidates who can win.

"We know when qualified woman are on the ballot, women can win," said Lynn Hammond, who has worked in communications for both the Liberal and Progressive Conservative parties.

Hammond and political scientist Amanda Bittner told CBC on election night that they would like to see more female faces in the legislature. 

"Not so good" is how Bittner described the 2015 election results which saw 10 women elected, compared to 30 men.

She said that falls short of the 30 percent needed to "effect change."

However, there are more women now than in 2011 when eight were elected — just one-sixth of 48 MHAs.

Bittner said there is more than just seats at play.

"It's not just how many there are, but what kind of cabinet post they have. Somebody like Cathy Bennett [Windsor Lake] should probably have a high cabinet post."


The incoming Liberal government has seven women, including Bennett and former member of Parliament, Siobhan Coady.

Liberal leader Dwight Ball hasn't said who his cabinet picks are, but he agreed Monday night that gender parity is a goal.

"This election saw a number of women come forward as candidates and this is important, but there's much more that we can do," Ball told supporters. "Women still remain severely under-represented and this is something we all need, all parties need to work towards. We have to address this."

Step in right direction

Lisa Dempster, who was re-elected for the Liberals in Cartwright-L'Anse au Clair, pointed out that of the eight women who ran for the party, only one was defeated and Lynn Sullivan lost to another woman, the NDP's Gerry Rogers in St. John's Centre.


Cartwright-L'Anse au Clair MHA Lisa Dempster says she hasn't had a lot of time for herself since getting elected 2 1/2 years ago. "You have to love what you do." (CBC)

"We did elect strong, independent, capable women," said Dempster, calling the election results, "a step in the right direction," but not enough.

She sits on a Commonwealth women parliamentarians committee and says women are "grossly under-represented" in legislatures around the world.

"We need to do more to make politics exciting and viable for women," she said, citing family support as essential.

'Big responsibility'

Tracey Perry is the only woman in the Progressive Conservative caucus. She was re-elected in Fortune Bay-Cape La Hune with nearly half the votes cast there.

"It's a big responsibility," she said. "We do need more women running."


Equal Voice NL unveils ORGANIZE TO WIN:
A Political Guidebook for Women


Tuesday March 24, 2015

Equal Voice


March 2015 marks the 90th anniversary of women winning the right to vote and run for public office in Newfoundland & Labrador.

Join Equal Voice NL, in partnership with The Provincial Advisory Council on the Status of Women NL, as we mark this momentous occasion with the unveiling of ORGANIZE TO WIN: A Political Guidebook for Women. 

This event will be hosted at The Suncor Energy Fluvarium on Tuesday, March 24, 2015, from 4:00-6:00PM.

Musical entertainment will be provided by Rozalind MacPhail.

>> DOWNLOAD BOOKLET HERE ____________________________________________________________

Women & Politics Forum 


City Council, St. John's NL

April 26, 2014


Equal Voice Equal Voice


Agenda for April 26, 2014


April 21 2014


St. John's, NL: The Newfoundland and Labrador Chapter of Equal Voice, an organization with a mandate to see more women engaged in, and ultimately elected in all levels of government, is hosting a ‘solution-driven’ forum at St. John’s City Hall from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm, on Saturday, April 26, 2014. Registration begins at 9:30 am.



"During the forum we will hear from incredible women who serve or have served in municipal, Aboriginal, provincial and federal politics,” notes Hammond. “There will also be a media panel, a panel representing the three political parties, and an opportunity for round table discussions and participant feedback.”



Equal Voice is hoping the forum will be the catalyst for garnering interest and support for the provincial Chapter.

“While this event will be held in St. John's, it will be recorded and posted via YouTube for the benefit of those who are unable to attend,” explains Hammond. “This is just a first step in our goal to engage women throughout Newfoundland and Labrador.”

This forum is being made possible with support of the Office of Public Engagement, the Department of Municipal and Intergovernmental Affairs, and the Women's Policy Office, Government of Newfoundland and Labrador. The event is corporately-sponsored by ExxonMobil and the in-kind support of many local businesses. Registration for the event is $20, which includes lunch and snacks. Tickets must be purchased in advance at: Eventbrite.ca. There are also a number of subsidized seats available for individuals who require them.



QUICK FACTS - Women Elected in Newfoundland & Labrador (as of April 2014)

  • In the 2013 municipal elections, of the 1,982 candidates who put themselves forward for election,
  • 31% (624) were women and 69% (1,358) males.
  • Among those elected, 34% (514) were women and 66% (1,018) were males. Compared to the 2009 elections, this is a 2% increase in women in municipal politics.
  • At 34%, Newfoundland and Labrador has a higher number women elected to municipal office than the national average of 22%.
  • The number of female Members of the House of Assembly currently stands at 17% (eight females, 40 males), and the number of female cabinet ministers is 20% (three females and 12 males).



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Thanks also to the Government of Canada (Status of Women & Canadian Heritage) for their financial support.