New legislation links political party subsidies to gender equity measures
OTTAWA – Today, Kennedy Stewart, MP for Burnaby South, introduced a bill designed to bring gender parity to the House of Commons by incentivizing political parties to nominate more women in future elections.
“Despite electing a record number of 88 female MPs in 2015, women still hold only 26% of the seats in the House of Commons,” said Dr. Stewart, an Associate Professor on leave from Simon Fraser University’s School of Public Policy. “While more than enough women come forward to run for office, the real problem is that political parties do not ensure gender equity in their nomination processes. Without new measures, it is unlikely Canada will achieve parity until 2075.”
Currently, political parties are eligible for a post-election rebate from Elections Canada of up to 50% of their campaign expenses. Under the new law, a political party would face a modest reduction in this public subsidy if they fail to put forward a gender-balanced candidate list.
“World Economic Forum data shows Canada ranks 53 out of 145 countries when it comes to equal representation in our national legislature,” continued Dr. Stewart. “The Candidate Gender Equity Act mirrors legislation in France, Ireland and elsewhere which nudge political parties towards gender-balanced candidate lists. After all, it’s 2016.”
Dr. Stewart was selected by random draw among the first 30 MPs to bring forward a private member’s bill for debate this spring. In the last Parliament, Stewart’s motion on electronic petitioning passed 142 to 140 despite being opposed by Prime Minister Harper and his Cabinet.