Tabling at MCC 2016!

The annual Manning Centre Conference was once dubbed “Woodstock for conservatives” by CTV News.
Based in Calgary, the Manning Centre was founded in 2005 to support conservative and libertarian activists and ideas in Canada. Named after its founder, Preston Manning, the Manning Centre is an independent organization that believes in a limited role for government. They operate on three pillars: research, training, and networking.

Every year, the Manning Centre holds the largest annual gathering of conservative and classical liberal politicians, activists, think tanks, advocacy groups, and academics in Canada.

This year’s conference, which took place from February 25-27 at the Shaw Centre in Ottawa, centered around the them of Recharging the Right. The idea behind this theme is to recharge and focus conservative leadership across all levels of government, including a reflection on policy ideas and strategies.

Equal Voice uOttawa had the pleasure of representing the National Chapter of Equal Voice at the 2016 Manning Centre Conference. Co-Presidents  Danika Leminski and Jessica Saviotti had the opportunity to meet various leaders of the Conservative Party to discuss the role and importance of women in politics.


Full house!


Left to right: Daryna Kutsyna (EV University of Toronto); Jessica Saviotti (EV uOttawa); Patrick Brown, MPP (current leader of PC Party of Ontario and federal Conservative member of the Canadian House of Commons from 2006-2015, representing the riding of Barrie); Lisa MacLeod, MPP (for Nepean-Carleton); Danika Leminski (EV uOttawa)
A selfie with the Selfie King himself, Tony Clement, MP
EVuO Co-Presidents with Lisa Raitt, MP


— Danika Leminski, President & VP Communications of Equal Voice uOttawa


In Celebration of International Women’s Day

Equal Voice uOttawa is honoured to have been invited to attend the NDP International Women’s Day Breakfast with Sheila Malcomson (Critic for the Status of Women) and Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet (Whip & Housing Critic). We had the opportunity to listen to the inspirational words of some of Canada’s leading women, including guest speakers Cindy Blackstock (Executive Director, First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada, Associate Professor, University of Alberta and Director of FNCARES) and Melissa Mollen Dupuis (Board President of the Wapikoni and the co-founder of Idle No More Quebec). The event was hosted at the Sir John A MacDonald building in downtown Ottawa this morning.

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Full house as Sheila Malcomson and Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet welcomed us to the NDP International Women’s Day Breakfast.

Sheila Malcolmson and Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet reminded us that today is about celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women – this success extends to their families, their communities, and to all of Canada.

However, we were cautioned that in addition to celebrating, we need to remain aware that in Canada, progress has slowed. Women continue to face high levels of violence and indigenous women are still exponentially more likely to be murdered than non-indigenous women. Poverty rates among single mothers and senior women are on the rise and women still only make $0.77 to every dollar earned by men.

Our hosts urged us to take real steps towards clear goals, supported by funding, to end violence against women, to make shelters available for victims of domestic abuse, and to ensure that women can access safe reproductive healthcare.

A country does not have equality or fairness if they refuse to provide the basic human right of education for children, just because of who they are. About 10 years ago, Cindy Blackstock noticed that the amount of money being spent on reserve child welfare was 22 and 34 per cent  lower than off reserve funding. In January a Human Rights Tribunal confirmed that Canada does discriminate against children living on reserve by failing to provide equal child welfare funding.

Cindy Blackstock is an inspirational woman who is positively impacting the lives of many Canadians. Her pursuit of fairness and equality for all children in Canada reminds us that women have the power to make a difference. We not only open (or even kick down!) doors, but we also open them for future generations of female leaders.

Melissa Mollen Dupuis encouraged us all to take further action towards equality. Her work on the front lines of one of the most significant social movements of our time (Idle No More) is a strong example of women’s power as change-makers.

Le 21 décembre 2012, des centaines de manifestants, Québécois et Autochtones, marchent dans les rues de Montréal en scandant le nom du mouvement Idle No More. Aux premières lignes des manifestations se trouvent Widia Larivière et Melissa Mollen Dupuis, instigatrices du mouvement au Québec. Idle No More signifie « fini l’inertie », « fini l’inaction ». Mme Dupuis représentent une nouvelle génération de jeunes Autochtones et femmes qui souhaitent que les Premières Nations aient enfin voix au chapitre.

Her work is paving the way for new generations of Indigenous and women leaders, as well as a more equal Canada.

This event encapsulated the Canadian International Women’s Day theme of women and girls’ empowerment. It demonstrated real-life examples of female leadership, courage, and perseverance. Equal Voice uOttawa will be taking the ideas, anecdotes, and stories we have heard as inspiration on our journey as the new generation of female leaders.

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Equal Voice uOttawa executive team with Cindy Blackstock.

–Danika Leminski, Co-President and VP Communications of Equal Voice uOttawa.





Welcoming the Women of the 42nd Parliament


On Febraury 17th, 2016 Equal Voice held a Welcome Reception at the Rideau Club for the women of the 42nd Parliament. The reception was a resounding success, featuring speeches from women of all parties and political spheres. It allowed Ottawans to welcome new women members of the House of Commons and discuss the future of women in politics.

The evening began with networking and socializing opportunities, as Equal Voice welcomed Members of Parliament, Members of Provincial Parliament, Councillors, local organizations and community members to gather and talk over canapés, hors d ‘oeuvres and refreshments.


There was then a surprise special guest appearance made by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, a self-proclaimed feminist and advocate of equal rights. He politely shook hands with many attendees and made his presence known in an effort to show his support for Equal Voice.


First Nation Algonquin, Barbara Dumont-Hill, began the opening speeches. She commenced by acknowledging that we were on Algonquin territory and welcomed us all, drumming and singing songs that honour her aboriginal ancestors.


Following this, Denise Siele, Director of Strategic Initiatives and Operations for Equal Voice National, took to the stage to introduce The Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Status of Women. Minister Hadju spoke about her experiences at the grassroots level and her transition into politics, emphasizing the challenges that women continue to face in leadership positions. She stated that women need more financial support if they are to get involved in politics. It was at this moment where she congratulated Equal Voice for providing child care services free-of-charge at the reception.


Minister Hadju proceeded to announce the call for proposals for projects intended to increase women’s political participation. This is a plan that will be put into motion via two streams. The first stream will involve “Empowering Indigenous Women for Stronger Communities”; the second stream will be composed of two themes, “Empowering Women for Political Action” and “Empowering Women for Community Action”. More information on these projects can be found on the Government of Canada website.


It was also an honour to hear Lisa MacLeod, Member of Provincial Parliament for Nepean-Carleton, speak. She made mention of the fact that we were standing in a room where men were the only ones accepted at the Rideau Club at one point, further acknowledging how far women have come in public life. This sentiment resonated in the talks that followed by Sheila Malcolmson, NDP Member of Parliament for Nanaimo –Ladysmith, as well as by Elizabeth May, leader of the Green Party of Canada.

Nancy Peckford, National Spokesperson, and Lynne Hamilton, National Chair of Equal Voice, ended the reception with the closing speeches. They thanked everyone in attendance, in particular the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC), for their continued pursuit of its goals to advance the well-being of aboriginal women and girls; and Johnson & Johnson, the longest sponsor of Equal Voice to date. But most importantly, Ms. Hamilton thanked the men in the room who joined us and supported us in our efforts to achieve equal representation.

It was an absolute honour to be among so many inspirational and empowering women. We look forward to the triumphs that lie ahead, and the continued role we play in being a voice to the youth as a chapter of the national organization.


—-Jessica Saviotti, Co-President & VP Finance of Equal Voice uOttawa Chapter

With Heavy Hearts, we say Goodbye to a Canadian Leader

With great sadness, Canada has lost an exemplary leader and humanitarian.

MacDonald trail blazed as Canada’s first female Secretary of State for foreign affairs in 1979 and she became one of the first few female foreign leaders worldwide at the time.

Born in Nova Scotia, McDonald began her career working at Progressive Conservative headquarters from 1956 to 1965. She served as Member of Parliament for Kingston and the Islands from 1972 to 1988, under Prime Ministers Joe Clark and Brian Mulroney. First serving as the party’s critic for aboriginal affairs and northern development, Macdonald became secretary of state before moving on to being minister of employment and immigration and communications minister.

After losing her seat in 1988, MacDonald decided to dedicate her time towards humanitarian efforts and she also hosted a television program, authored a book, and served as chair of an international development research center.

MacDonald was bestowed with many honours and awards, including the Order of Canada as an officer in 1992 and as a companion in 1998. Maclean’s magazine honoured MacDonald with a lifetime achievement award in November 2014.

MacDonald has inspired many young women in Canada with her work as a parliamentarian and humanitarian. It is with sad hearts that we say goodbye.

26-MacDonald_UN—-Danika Leminski, Official journalist/blogger of Equal Voice uOttawa Chapter

Exploring the Role of the Federal Government in Mental Health

We should think of healthcare as an investment in Canada’s economy, not a burden

—-The Honourable Hedy Fry

At the Fairmont Château Laurier, in partnership with the Canadian Psychiatric Association and the Canadian Psychological Association, the Economic Club of Canada hosted a panel to discuss the role of federal government in supporting the mental health of Canadians. Representatives from each major federal political party discussed their perspectives, including the issues in the current system and possible solutions to those problems. They touched upon the topic of mental health on all fronts, from First Nations to Corrections Services, Military, Public Servants, and the education system. They explained that the federal government also has an important role in collaborating and strategizing with the provinces and territories when it comes to the provision of mental health services.

Over the last few years, Canada’s mental health record has dropped from 4th place to 10th place out of all OECD countries. The problem is not lack of investment (the United Kingdom, ranked 1st place, spends less per capita than Canada does) – the issue is the lack of efficiency and proper planning.

This was an engaging and thought-provoking discussion that our current and upcoming (#shewillrun) politicians must contemplate and act on in order to improve the well-being of all Canadians.

List of speakers:

Zul Merali, Ph.D. (Vice President Research, The Royal; President & CEO, uOttawa Institute of Mental Health Research; Founding Scientific Director, Canadian Depression Research & Intervention Network)

The Honourable Hedy Fry, M.P., M.D. (Vancouver Centre; Federal Liberal Critic for Health; Chair, BC Federal Liberal Caucus)

Padraic Carr MD, FRCPC, Dip. ABPN, DFAPA, FCPA (President, Canadian Psychiatric Association)

Murray Rankin,Q.C., M.P. (Official Opposition Critic for Health, Deputy Critic for National Revenue, Member of Parliament)

Kerry Mothersill, Ph.D. (President Canadian Psychological Association)

Cathy McLeod (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health and for Western Economic Diversification; Member of Parliament, Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo)

Jessica and Danika from Equal Voice uOttawa with The Honourable Hedy Fry (center) and Dr. Zul Merali (left)
Jessica and Danika from Equal Voice uOttawa with The Honourable Hedy Fry (center) and Dr. Zul Merali (left)
Dr Padraic Carr, President of the Canadian Psychiatric Association
Cathy McLeod, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health and for Western Economic Diversification and Member of Parliament, Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo
Murray Rankin, Official Opposition Critic for Health, Deputy Critic for National Revenue, Member of Parliament for Victoria
The Honourable Dr. Hedy Fry, M.P., for Vancouver Centre; Federal Liberal Critic for Health; Chair, BC Federal Liberal Caucus

—-Danika Leminski, Official journalist/blogger of Equal Voice uOttawa Chapter