Wynne emerges as Canada’s sixth female premier

by | Jan 29, 2013 | News

Kathleen Wynne becomes the sixth premier in Canada PHOTO COURESY KATHLEEN WYNNE

Kathleen Wynne wins Ontario Liberal Party leadership. PHOTO COURTESY KATHLEEN WYNNE

By Giulia Frisina

Kathleen Wynne got right down to business Tuesday after meeting with her Liberal caucus at Queen’s Park.

Wynne, now the leader of the Ontario Liberal party and the province’s new premier-designate, is also the sixth female premier in Canada.

In the past five years, six female premiers have emerged: Eva Aariak in Nunavut, Christy Clark in British Columbia, Pauline Marois in Quebec, Kathy Dunderdale in Newfoundland and Labrador. These six make up 87 per cent of Canada’s population.

As important as this is, according to the United Nations, Canada still has a long way to go. In 2010 Canada ranked 50th in the world for women’s participation in politics – trailing countries such as Pakistan, Bolivia, and the United Arab Emirates. Women in this country occupy fewer then 25 per cent of seats in parliament.

Mia Rabson, the parliamentary bureau chief for the Winnipeg Free Press, said six Canadian woman premiers is not a fluke and that women started entering politics in the ‘80s.

“Women have been in politics for 30 years now,” said Rabson. “The political old boys club have been making it a little easier for woman ever since.”

Rabson said there are other reasons why there are currently six female premiers.

“Woman are more likely to vote and make up a large portion of the voting population,” she said.

Of the six woman premiers only four were actually elected by the public. Both Clark and Wynne took over as leaders after a party leadership vote.

There is no question that the momentum of women in politics will continue to grow, but the question is whether it will be long lasting, Rabson said.

“Christy Clark is currently struggling and Kathleen Wynne has to really fight to win the next election,” she said.

Challenges ahead

Athabasca University professor Jane Arscott is hopeful that this momentum will continue to grow, but it won’t be easy.

“We get to a point were we say it’s about time,” Arscott, co-editor of the upcoming book Stalled: The Representation of Women in Canadian Governments, told Humber News on Tuesday.

“It’s an inspiration but we are a ways off, what we have to remember is that two of the leader haven’t actually been officially elected by Canadians.”