Wynne’s victory as Ontario’s first woman premier a breakthrough, poll suggests

by Maria Babbage

TORONTO – About 70 per cent of Canadians think Kathleen Wynne’s victory as Ontario’s first female premier is a significant breakthrough for women in politics, a new poll suggests.

It includes 31 per cent who feel it’s a very significant breakthrough, according to a national Canadian Press-Harris/Decima survey.

That compares to 17 per cent who felt it isn’t that significant and 11 per cent who say it’s not at all significant.

Women under the age of 35 and those living in Atlantic Canada and Quebec are most likely to view Wynne’s victory as at least a significant breakthrough, the polls found.

Three-quarters of respondents felt women are well represented in politics, while 31 per cent feel they aren’t. Conservatives are more likely than other voting groups to feel they’re well represented.

Wynne will become the sixth woman premier in Canada when she’s sworn in Monday, a trend that political observers and advocates say is encouraging.

While gender parity among the premiers is important symbolically, some say it would be more significant if Wynne’s position is cemented with an electoral win.

They point out that women are under-represented in the country’s legislatures, ranging from 10.5 per cent in the Northwest Territories to nearly 33 per cent in Quebec. Ontario is close at 30 per cent.

Wynne will not only be making history as Ontario’s first woman premier, she’ll also become Canada’s first openly gay premier.

The poll indicates that Canadians are split on whether gays and lesbians are well represented in politics, with 44 per cent of respondents saying they are and 41 per cent saying they are not.

Of the 1,015 respondents surveyed, 58 per cent feel visible minorities are well represented, while 36 per cent say they aren’t.

Quebec residents are less likely than others to feel visible minorities are well represented in politics, the poll found.

Men are more likely than women to feel that women and visible minorities are well represented in politics, it found.

Thirty-seven per cent of respondents feel aboriginals are represented well in politics, compared to 57 per cent who feel they aren’t. Residents of Ontario and Quebec are much less likely than others to feel aboriginals are well represented in politics.

Conservatives and Liberals are more likely than other voting groups to feel aboriginals are well represented in politics.

Respondents were asked the question: “As you may know, Kathleen Wynne was recently elected the leader of the Liberal Party of Ontario and will be sworn in as Ontario’s first female premier, and Canada’s first openly gay premier. How significant a breakthrough for women in Canadian politics do you believe this is?”

The telephone poll was conducted between Jan. 31 and Feb. 4. The survey has a margin of error of 3.1 per cent, 19 times out of 20.




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