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On April 22, 2018, young leaders will gather to honour the centennial date of some women obtaining the right to vote in Nova Scotia and collaborate tangible ideas on how we can break the glass ceiling for all women and girls in the next century, together. Women in Politics: 100 Years of Progress is a multi-partisan day-long event to encourage and inspire the next generation of leaders to collaborate with women who have advanced in political spaces and made strides for progress. Together, we will explore how we will work together to achieve full inclusion and equity in politics for all women in the next century.

Registration is Free: http://mountstudents.ca/womeninpolitics/registration/

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This year Nova Scotia marks a century for the first milestone in women’s suffrage in the province.

To mark this event, during April 2018 become an Equal Voice member in Nova Scotia for just $10.

The deadline is April 30, 2018.

Follow the link below and choose the $10 student option.

 https://www.equalvoice.ca/join.cfm

 If you have any questions, please contact us at: 1-855-299-2636

 

In the News: 

Municipal councillors to be guaranteed up to 1 year parental leave

Proposed Nova Scotia law eliminates requirement to ask council permission to take leave

CBC News, Jean Laroche, April 6, 2016

Municipal councillors in Nova Scotia who want parental leave will no longer have to ask their councils for permission first, once a bill introduced Friday by the provincial government becomes law.

The changes proposed to the Municipal Government Act and the Halifax Regional Municipality Charter will guarantee municipal councillors up to a year off when they become parents.

Kings County deputy mayor Emily Lutz, who pushed for the changes, is happy to see them finally move ahead.

"It's a good step forward for municipal politicians both male and female," she said from her home in Rockland, near Berwick, where she is looking after her nine-day-old daughter, Azie, and her two-year-old son, Everett.

"I think it's good for reducing the barriers for people who may be interested in running for public office."

Lutz and fellow councillor Megan Hodges first called for changes to the law last fall.

Just weeks before giving birth, Hodges's request for parental leave was debated publicly by council. Her colleagues agreed to give her a year, which is what municipal employees are entitled to.

Lutz is glad that requirement is being eliminated in the bill brought forward by Municipal Affairs Minister Derek Mombourquette.

"I think it's good that we recognize it's not something you should have to ask for permission for but it should simply be a right enshrined in the process," said Lutz.

The bill also eliminates a provision that states a councillor who misses three council meetings without an explanation could lose their seat. 

"That was one of the biggest barriers for this is that if a councillor missed those three meetings they were in jeopardy of losing their seat," said Mombourquette.

Last fall, NDP MLA Claudia Chender introduced a bill similar to the one proposed by the governing Liberals.

"They could have passed the bill earlier if they had passed ours, but this bill looks good and we're very happy to see it," she said.

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NOVA SCOTIA CHAPTERPhoto courtesy of the Macleans.ca

 

Contact us: novascotia@equalvoice.ca

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In the News:

2018 marks 100th anniversary of women's right to vote in Nova Scotia

CBC News, January 3, 2018 By Sherri Borden Colley 

Kendra Coombes, a young Cape Breton regional councillor who has faced ageism and sexism on the job, is looking forward to the day when she is no longer asked why it's important to have women's voices at political tables.

"We don't ask why it is important to have the male voice but yet we have to ask why it is important to have the female voice," Coombs said in an interview.

"It should just be accepted that women make up 50 per cent of the population and we deserve seats at the table, we deserve to have our voices heard."

The 29-year-old is one of three women on the 13-member council. Since elected in 2016, Coombes said she's seen an increase in the level of public debate about municipal issues and believes it is because of the questions that the three are asking in council.

April 2018 marks the 100th anniversary of most women's right to vote in Nova Scotia. Some, including black women, immigrant women and Indigenous women, were excluded. Indigenous women were given the right to vote in 1960. And black men were allowed if they owned property.

Denying women the right to vote for so long silenced their voices, Coombs said.

"If more women got involved, if more women were having their voices heard around the table and it became a norm, you wouldn't be seeing the ageism and the sexism," she said.

"You have to challenge those stereotypes. You have to break down the doors. Other women broke the doors down for us." 

Despite continued the challenges, Pamela Lovelace, chair of Equal Voice Nova Scotia, said she expects to see a rise in the number of women running for office in the next federal election in 2019. Equal Voice is a multi-partisan organization dedicated to electing women to all levels of government.

Lovelace, a former CBC journalist, said she faced many negative experiences when she unsuccessfully ran for a Halifax regional council seat in 2016, challenging then-deputy mayor Matt Whitman.

Only two of Halifax's 16 councillors are women.

During her campaign, Lovelace said she was disappointed to hear some sexist comments on the doorstep and on social media. Part of the harassment she faced stemmed from her last name.

"So I had a lot of sexual innuendos and very discouraging remarks put towards me in regards to the same [name] as a porn star Linda Lovelace, so that was quite upsetting," Lovelace recalled.

"In addition to that, I had comments made to me such as, 'what does your husband think about you running?' and 'why are you doing this, you have kids?'"

Despite those experiences, Lovelace said she will definitely run again. 

 

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Panel discussion in Sydney explores issues faced by female politicians 

Cape Breton Post, March 19, 2018

A man recently told Alana Paon she should smile more.

And while the suggestion seemingly undercut the rookie Cape Breton-Richmond MLA’s accomplishments, Paon told a panel discussion on women in politics last week that she doesn’t let those types of sexist comments make her feel like a victim.

“Excuse me if my resting you-know-what face does not appeal to you,” said Paon, who was one of 10 female politicians featured at "We Rise: Women in Politics" on Thursday at the New Dawn Centre for Social Innovation in Sydney. “However, it’s interesting that I would never say something like that to anyone — man or woman — but I dealt with it in a very respectful manner, and it just shuts that person down. Very assertively, not aggressively.

“I have learned a long time ago to become assertive — not aggressive — but very assertive.”

Paon wasn’t the only woman on the panel who said they’ve been belittled because of their gender.

“They make you not a priority, they make you an option,” Karla MacFarlane, interim leader of the Nova Scotia Progressive Conservative Party, told the approximately 100 people who attended. “I will shower them with kindness but I’m not going to give them a whole lot of opportunity to take away my energy and oxygen. So, you shower them with kindness. When they go low, you go high — I know everyone’s heard that one before — and you just have to really focus on what the actual conversation is.”

Kendra Coombes, 29, said her gender and her age have been questioned since she became a Cape Breton Regional Municipality councillor in 2016.

“I’ve had it challenged. I have been called every name in the book,” said Coombes, who represents the communities of New Waterford, Scotchtown, River Ryan, Lingan and New Victoria.

“So often now what I do is I challenge. If the person is looking at me in the eye, I will challenge it right then and there. If it’s a fellow council member, I have been known to challenge it right there in the council room.

“I am more than those two things and I deserve to be recognized as that.”

The panel, which also included MLAs Tammy Martin and Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin, Port Hawkesbury Mayor Brenda Chisholm-Beaton, CBRM councillor Amanda McDougall, Membertou band councillor Gail Christmas, and former provincial Liberal candidates Nadine Bernard and Katherine MacDonald Snow, brought up other obstacles that women will face while trying to enter politics.

Cape Breton Centre MLA Tammy Martin said the cost of running a campaign and then financing a constituency office can be daunting expenses.

“I’ll be quite honest, for a lot of people you just don’t have that kind of cash laying around,” she said.

McDougall said people feel like they have to choose between parenthood and public office.

“I’ve learned very quickly in the municipal setting you actually have to step into council chambers and ask permission from your colleagues to miss meetings if you have a child, which I feel is completely inappropriate,” said McDougall, whose district runs from Caledonia along the east coast to Louisbourg. “Thankfully, across the province, and with the help of the Department of Municipal Affairs and a lot of really wonderful strong voices, there’s new legislation coming forward that will provide parental accommodation, but I think that is really important.”

McDougall, who doesn’t have children, said when she recently discussed the possibility with her partner, he didn’t know he could take parental leave so she could focus on her career.

“Legally, if you take parental leave, you’re not going to lose your job. That’s your right, that is our right bringing children into the world,” she said. “So there’s an education that goes beyond women.”

Chisholm-Beaton said all of the women onstage were “change agents.” She said female politicians from across Cape Breton should meet regularly to discuss issues.

“We all understand that whether we are working at the local level or the provincial level or the federal level, I think we all have an understanding that the status quo as it stands is not acceptable,” said Chisholm-Beaton, the first-ever female mayor in Cape Breton. “I know that it’s very important, even at the local level, that we all understand that we are not going to move forward, we are not going to be vibrant, we are not going to progress if we can’t think outside of our municipal boundaries. It’s all going to be about collaboration. Each and every one of us up on this stage and each and every one of you in the crowd, if you’re thinking about entering politics, it’s all got to be about collaboration. We all have to be regional thinkers.”

Meanwhile, Paon said her gender doesn’t mean she has to feel like a victim.

“I have been a victim of all kinds of things. Bullying, assault. I wouldn’t even want to go down the road to tell you some of the things that I’ve had to endure in my life. However, what I have learned from all the experience that I’ve had — and they’ve been many — is that if you project a victim mentality, it’s very dangerous,” she said.

“I have surpassed my experiences and I’ve become something other than that person who was bullied, attacked and even assaulted in my life. I’ve become so much more than that. It’s important, I think, to encourage women to go beyond that.”

PC Leadership features two women

Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin wants party to do something it never has before — pick a woman as leader

A rookie MLA whose entire political career is less than a year old is hoping Nova Scotia Progressive Conservative Party members are looking for someone new and different in choosing a successor to Jamie Baillie.

Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin wants those who will choose the next party leader to do something they have never done before — pick a woman.

"Because I'm the right woman," she said with a laugh when asked why the party should choose a woman as its next leader. "I'm ready to be elected. I'm ready to be the leader of the party and premier of Nova Scotia."

In announcing her candidacy, Smith-McCrossin joins MLAs Tim Houston and John Lohr, along with Cape Breton Regional Municipality Mayor Cecil Clarke, in vying for the party's top job in the wake of Baillie's forced resignation last month.

None has filed nomination papers because the official race has yet to get underway. The party is still working on leadership rules, which may be ready for release at the party's annual general meeting this weekend in Halifax.

In business in Amherst

Smith-McCrossin trained as a nurse and is best known in Amherst, where she lives with her physician husband Murray and the youngest of their four children.

Until a few weeks ago, Smith-McCrossin owned three businesses in Amherst through a parent company, East Coast Holistic Health Ltd. — Amherst Medical Esthetics, Damaris Spa and Wellness Centre and Manasseh Local and Organic Food.

 

Smith-McCrossin announces her candidacy in the PC leadership race surrounded by family in the waiting room of the clinic she founded in 2002. (Jean Laroche/CBC)

She sold all three in anticipation of the workload and long hours she expects to put into running for the party's top job.

She announced her candidacy in the waiting room of the clinic she founded 16 years ago. More than 50 family, friends and supporters packed into an area in front of a podium with banners on either side of Smith-McCrossin, who told the gathering her lack of political experience was a plus, not a minus.

"I am new. I'm new to politics. I believe that is a strength. I have no baggage," she said. "I'm ready. I'm 48 years old. I've got the energy, the ideas, the passion and I want to take Nova Scotia forward."

Victory in first run

The party considered her a high-profile candidate in the last election where she ran next door to then-party leader Baillie, in Cumberland North. She cruised to victory last May, winning 51 per cent of the vote in her first attempt at elected office. Liberal incumbent Terry Farrell finished second, more than 1,000 votes behind.

It was an impressive rookie win, but winning over rank-and-file Tories will be a tougher challenge given she does not have the history, name recognition or caucus support of her rivals.

"I don't want to say anything negative about those three candidates," said Smith-McCrossin. "I do think I'm the right choice.

"I think Nova Scotia, the PC Party of Nova Scotia, is ready to elect a female, a woman leader. It's the right time for the party and it's the right time for the province."

Despite the obvious difference between her and her rivals, Smith-McCrossin doesn't want gender to be the only reason people vote for her.

"I've always worked side by side with the men on the farm and the same work, same as my sister, and I think because of that training I don't think of jobs in terms of gender," she said.

"I've never looked at a job and thought, 'Oh, I can or can't do because I'm a female.' I've always looked at a job and looked at, do I have the strength and abilities to do that job? It's never been based on gender for me."

'It's often about opportunity'

Nova Scotia's New Democratic Party has been led twice by women. Alexa McDonough was leader from 1980 to 1994 and Helen MacDonald led the party for nine months starting in July 2000.

The closest the Liberals have come to electing a woman to lead them was in 2007, when former finance minister Diana Whalen finished just 68 votes behind Stephen McNeil in that leadership race.

Smith-McCrossin said she decided to run for the PC leadership now, instead of later, because the job is open now.

"To be successful it's often about opportunity, so when an opportunity arises you need to take it then 'cause it may not come again," she said.

"In my businesses they all started, three of them started with an idea and I created a plan and I built it," she said. "I like projects and I look at Nova Scotia as my next project."  

One-time party president Scott Armstrong, who will likely co-chair Smith-McCrossin's campaign bid, said party members will support her because she is a woman


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