Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Voter Turnout & Commentary on Women in Politics

Despite record registration overall voter
turnout unchanged

May, 18 2005 - 3:00 PM

VANCOUVER/CKNW(AM980) - Elections B.C. says it
appears overall voter turnout improved little since the last
provincial election. <>Spokesperson Jennifer Miller says,
although the numbers do not include absentee ballots, at
this point only 55.6 per cent of eligible voters cast a ballot.
That final percentage is virtually unchanged from 2001,
which saw 55.4 per cent cast a ballot.

BC, like many other jurisdictions continues it's struggle to
engage more citizens in civic and electoral participation.
As a person on the street critique, leading right up to the
election people continued to ask me, "but who do I vote for?"
This voter malaise I guess describes the disconnect many
citizens feel from party politics, both at the provincial,
municipal and federal levels (which we will see sometime this
year as well). I could understand this apathy more if the
record of Gordon Campbell and the BC Liberal government's
actions (which I have referenced in mainstream and alternative
media in this blog) were much more hidden. The resounding
thing the undecided, or the citizens who chose not to vote,
seem to state is that they don't trust the NDP and never
will, because of the fast ferry fiasco, Bingogate and Glen
Clark's deck (the fact that he was exonerated in court doesn't
seem to register for a lot of people).

I am also going to make a rather sweeping generalization when
I say that women in the Generation X demographic tend to have
little interest in things political, or electoral. This won't win me
any friends, but it's the truth as I see it. There are too few
younger women interested in media, news, politics and civic partici-
pation and issues that affect ourselves, our families and communities.
As a pretty active political activist, I see very few women in their
30's, or younger, making the sometimes difficult and time
intensive efforts to become involved in anything beyond their
own spheres. This kind of apathy costs everyone, but women
and families most of all. I understand that we all have busy,
full lives, where we feel stretched each day and these are likely
the biggest reasons the majority of women do not get involved
politically. I've also noted a particularly unflattering tendency
towards self-interest in this demographic and younger ones.
I've got mine, get off my back jack.

I also wonder if women feel like they can make a difference in
the political world, a world clearly dominated by white, middle
class men, who cling to the reigns of power. I wonder whether
the majority of women believe in their abilities to be strong leaders?
And do they believe enough in other women to take up those reigns?
Looking around any community you can see that women of all
walks of life are leaders in their communities and doing many
positive things? Why is it more don't jump into the political fray?
I think it is a distinct possibility that many women still don't feel
confident enough to assert themselves. I also feel many women
believe the consequences of becoming political activists (of any stripe)
are not worth the benefits. Women and men are both guilty of judging
women's appearance of more importance than what they stand for,
or what kind of leader they will make. And the dirty pool of supposed
allies & real enemies yanking old skeletons out of closets that seem
to be part of the tricks of the political trade are so distasteful and
worrying that many women opt out (ask Kelly Quinn about that).
Who doesn't have skeletons? How long does someone get raked
over the coals? Hell, our Premier committed a felony offence in
another country during his tenure and has allegedly been up to all
sorts of other dirty work, it doesn't seem to be held against him.
We can see double standards still exist for women and men in

Stats Can Census research clearly illustrates that women still
bear more responsibility for child rearing and Elder care than
men, thus reducing their availability to be involved in a variety
of causes. A last explanation that is really clear to me is that
most women in politics do not have access to the kind of funding
that male candidates do. We are 52% of the population,
but we clearly do not share the same economic and business benefits
that men enjoy. These benefits and opportunities of the Old Boys
Club still exist. But naming this reality is distasteful, even amongst
women involved in politics. Some women, such as Belinda Stronach,
go on the record avoiding at all costs being called a feminist, one of
the most effective ways to ruin a woman's political chances, because
she will be labelled "a special interest group" and can kiss any broad-
based (unintentional joke) support a woman candidate might get if
she is pigeon-holed as a "feminist" in politics.

I strongly believe that more women of all ages and people of diverse
ethno-cultural groups must courageously jump into the political arena.
We have lots of role models, mentors and predecessors waiting to
give us a hand up the ladder. And for those already there make space
for the new voices and ideas. Actively take on the role of mentor and
encourage citizens to continue in the wacky world of politics.

The future of politics requires that fresh new faces and ideas from
a more diverse populace
are heard in government, in our communities
in political parties, in the labour community and in the media.
The present and future of our families, communities and province depend
on diversity, civic and electoral participation and inclusion.
Vancouver councillor says timing of Stronach affair timely
for her efforts

May, 20 2005 - 7:00 PM

VANCOUVER/CKNW(AM980) - A Vancouver COPE Councillor
is organizing a discussion next week on how to encourage women
to enter politics, and says it couldn't come at a better time given
the fall-out over the 'Belinda bombshell.'

Ellen Woodsworth -- of course -- referring to former Tory
Belinda Stronach crossing the floor of the Commons to become
a Liberal.

Woodsworth suggests some of the names Stronach has been
called are 'appalling.'

She notes Tory Deputy Leader Peter MacKay -- Stronach's
former boyfriend -- wasn't called any names when he broke
a promise not to unite the Conservatives and the Canadian Alliance.

Stronach has been called an 'attractive dipstick' by one
Conservative MP, with another accusing her of 'whoring herself'
to the Liberals.

Gina Bishop, (May 12, 2005) Civic engagement among
young new and Aboriginal Canadians.
Opinion Canada.

Canadian Women's Congress-
Women's Campaign School in BC.

Centre for Research & Information, (November 4, 2004).
Canadians want more women in elected office

Martin's White Knight: Stronach's switch may be enough
to save the Liberal government
By Campbell Clark & Brian Laghi, (May 18, 2005 ). Globe and Mail.

Equal Voice- BC Chapter

Harper still can't be trusted

By Allen Garr, (May 18, 2005). The Vancouver Courier.

Carole Taylor's Heavy Load: B.C. Liberals expect her star
appeal to woo women back. But after four years, the gender
divide is wide.
Barbara McLintock, (April 4, 2005). The

Belittling Belinda: We’re told she’s a ‘blonde bombshell

heartbreaking attractive dipstick whore.’ Nothing
specific, of course.

Shannon Rupp, (
May 18, 2005). The
Still Counting: Women in Politics Across Canada

Women in Politics Bibliographic Database

Women's Political Representation in Canada

NDP Women Fail to Win Party Nominations
By Charlie Smith, (20-Jan-2005 ).

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