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Looking for a Breakthrough: EV BC Statement re BC Federal Female Candidates

Apr 14, 2011

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
 
Vancouver: With nominations now closed, newly released data from Equal Voice shows that BC may doing comparatively well in terms of the number of female candidates who are running in the current federal election, but the outlook is decidedly un-rosy for a significant breakthrough in the number of British Columbian women who will go to the House of Commons after all the votes are counted.
 
According to Equal Voice, 59 BC women from the four major parties have put their names forward in this federal election. At 41 per cent of total candidates, BC has a markedly higher percentage of women running in Campaign 2011 than the national average (31%). But, the number of these candidates in winnable BC ridings is just 21, or 36 per cent.
 
“Although we are encouraged by some of these numbers, when we take a closer look at the figures, we see that only 21 of the women candidates are in winnable ridings. We’re hoping for the best. But these numbers suggest we may only have a fractional increase in the total number of female MPs from British Columbia after all the ballots are counted. This isn’t the critical breakthrough we’re looking for in 2011,” says Carolyn Jack, Chair of Equal Voice BC.
 
“By putting their names forward in such strong numbers, women are clearly showing they’re keen to contribute to Canada’s political life. If we hope to meaningfully increase the number of women elected to Parliament, which we believe is fundamental for a healthy democracy, we need to improve the number of women running in winnable ridings. Political parties need to make a greater effort.”
 
Although women make up 52 percent of the population, that population is a long way from being equitably represented in the national legislature. Equal Voice has confirmed that nationally 407 women candidates, representing 31 percent of all candidates for Canada’s five major political parties, will be on the ballot for the May
2nd federal election.
 
This represents a slight two point increase from the 2008 federal election when 29 percent of major party candidates were women.
 
The New Democratic Party is the clear leader with 125 female candidates, nearly 41 percent of all its candidates, which is the highest percentage fielded by a political party in Canada’s history. The Bloc Quebecois has beat its own record by running 24 of 75 candidates, or 32 percent of its candidates, up four points from the last election.
 
The Liberal Party has confirmed that 92 of its 308 candidates, or 30 percent, are women, though this is considerably lower number than in the 2008 election when the party attained a historic high of 37 percent.
 
The Conservative Party is fielding 22 percent women, up two points from the last election. Finally, the Green Party has 98 women candidates (32 percent) on their slate, nearly attaining their goal of one third.
 
“Equal Voice is pleased to see that there has been some overall improvement in the numbers of women running. We know that the vast majority of Canadians want the opportunity to vote for more women. This election will give some of them that chance,” said Donna Dasko, Equal Voice National Chair.
 
In 2009, Equal Voice invited major party leaders to improve the numbers of women they would nominate in the next federal election. All major party leaders agreed to Equal Voice’s Canada Challenge, though it is clear that, at the overall national level, the smaller parties have fared better, particularly the New Democratic Party.
 
“They have set a new bar in Canada at the national level. Their success underscores the fact that when parties work hard to reach out to women as potential candidates, women will rise to the challenge,” said Dasko.
 
In British Columbia, all four major parties are fielding women as more than one-third of their candidates - Liberals 44.4%; Greens 44.4%, NDP 41.7%, and Conservatives 33.3% - demonstrating that the parties are able to
put forward significant numbers where they make the effort.
 
Consistent with an earlier analysis of the national nominations by Equal Voice, across the country fewer women are running in winnable ridings. Only the Bloc Quebecois is filling more than one third (36 percent) of its winnable ridings with women candidates.
 
The New Democratic Party is second with 31 percent women in winnable ridings.
 
Female candidates are on the ballot of 27 percent of the Liberal Party’s winnable ridings, while the Conservatives are running women in 20 percent of its most winnable seats.
 
“In order for Canada to rank significantly better than 52nd in the world in terms of women’s representation, parties need to re-visit their candidate search strategies, especially in winnable ridings,” added Nancy Peckford, Executive Director of Equal Voice.
 
On Thursday, Equal Voice plans to publish a complete list of female candidates by riding on its website, with links to their campaign websites. www.equalvoice.ca
 
“While some voters may not have a woman on the ballot in their own ridings, it’s important that they know where those female candidates are and how they can potentially support one that represents their values,” added Peckford.
                                                                      -30-
 
For more information:
 
Carolyn Jack, Chair of Equal Voice BC, cell: 604-970-3234
Nancy Peckford, Executive Director: 613-292-7941 or npeckford@equalvoice.ca 

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