Unless you were living under a rock, then you know that today, March 8, is International Women’s Day.
Women are woefully underrepresented in New Brunswick provincial politics. Currently, there are 7 women in the provincial legislature (8 were elected in the last election, but Margaret Ann Blaney resigned). The most ever was 10 back in 1991. All 7 current women MLAs are Progressive Conservatives.
This year is an election year for New Brunswick. I saw on Twitter this morning (via Global reporter Laura Brown) that David Coon, leader of the NB Green Party, wants to have a slate of candidates “50 per cent women and 50 per cent men.” So it got me thinking: how are the parties doing so far? Both the Liberals and NDP released statements today (I visited all party websites and those were the only two statements I found) and both acknowledge that we have a lot of work to do. But neither one offered any concrete suggestions or commitments to improve this glaring discrepancy. And herein lies my only problem with official days like today: they result in more rhetoric (for the day) and little action (for the rest of the year). In other words, reaction instead of action. I have no doubt that both parties are sincere, but as far as I know only the Greens are on record with an objective (I’d be happy if every other party contacted me to prove me wrong). In my opinion, all political parties need to stop reacting and start leading by clearly articulating targets. Because without them, I fear we will not be actively correcting the situation. Without them, how can we measure our success without goals? How can we be accountable?
All five political parties are busy nominating candidates. So what are the numbers? Of candidates officially nominated leading up to International Women’s Day, only 8 of 31 are women. Most parties are doing a poor job, obviously. Here is a run-down of officially nominated candidates so far for each party, ranked first by total number then by percentage:
Green Party: 5 nominated candidates. 3 women. 60%
Progressive Conservative: 9 nominated candidates. 2 women. 22%
NDP: 4 nominated candidates. 1 woman. 25%
People’s Alliance: 4 nominated candidates. 1 woman. 25%
Liberals: 9 nominated candidates. 1 woman. 11%
You may say, “but Ian, it’s early yet.” And yes, you are right. But it’s a worrying trend because I want to see equal representation, or at least I want to see it a lot closer. I will definitely be watching, and if any parties get in touch with me (please do! @ianletourneau on Twitter) then I will update appropriately. Most importantly, let’s keep the conversation going beyond today!