Equal Voice Says Not Enough Women Being Nominated in Ontario

Toronto: In late June, Equal Voice released a communiqué regarding the number of confirmed female candidates for the upcoming provincial election in Ontario scheduled for this fall. At that point, the Ontario political parties were half-way though their nominating processes.

Equal Voice’s assessment suggested that there are not yet sufficient numbers of confirmed women candidates to make 2011 a breakthrough year for women in politics in Ontario.

Equal Voice, a national organization dedicated to the election of more women, is tracking Ontario nomination meetings to determine whether enough women are nominated to give voters the opportunity of voting for a female candidate.

With half of nominations completed in late June, Equal Voice expressed its concern that insufficient numbers of women are being nominated in order to improve overall female representation at Queen’s Park.

Nominations tracking for Equal Voice by Graham Murray of G.P. Murray Research found that 70 women have been nominated out of 241 candidate nominations to date, or 29 per cent. If a full slate of candidates run in October for all four parties, there will be 428 candidates.

In 2007, 29 female candidates were elected (27.1% of the 107 MPPs). If all of the female 2011 nominees were elected, the percentage of female MPPs would therefore be fractionally higher, at 28.6%. It is not to be expected that all female candidates will be elected, of course.

“A one-per cent increase over four years is sleepy progress indeed,” said Lesley Byrne, Chair of the Toronto Chapter of Equal Voice. “All of the parties agreed to run more female candidates this year and yet, if we continue at this pace it will be decades before women see parity in Ontario Parliament.”

In February 2011, all three elected provincial parties at Queen’s Park signed on to Equal Voice’s second annual Ontario Challenge pledging to run more female candidates in this year’s Ontario election than they did in the 2007 provincial election.

“To ensure that party leaders keep this promise Equal Voice has been tracking their nominations,” says Byrne. “With over half of nominations completed, the numbers are not nearly what we were hoping for.

There is still time to increase the number before nominations close on September 15th but we will need to see a rush of women to the nominations contests to make real progress.

Of 241 nominations to date, 70 were won by women, or 29 per cent. The standings by party are:

Liberal Party: 33% of nominated candidates are female (23 of 66)

Progressive Conservatives: 22% of nominated candidates are female (21 of 95)

New Democratic Party: 41% of nominated candidates are female (20 of 47)

Green Party of Ontario: 19% of nominated candidates are female (6 of 33)

Experts and elected officials have noted that women’s concerns are better heard and acted upon when a critical mass of one-third is reached. Ontario only needs to elect an additional eight women to reach critical mass.

Equal Voice will continue to track and report on nominations in the lead up to the election.

For further information:

Lesley Byrne, Chair, Toronto Chapter, Equal Voice: 416-469-5248 or by lesley.byrne@sympatico.ca

To view related news stories on this issue, including an editorial by the Toronto Star, visit: http://www.equalvoice.ca/news.cfm

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