Gender equality and democracy (II)


Dan Arnold troubleshoots Paul Dewar’s proposal to increase the number of women seeking office.

Of course, as with any incentive scheme, there are unintended consequences. To begin with, the easiest way for a party like the Liberals to cash in on that 90k a candidate would be to run nothing but women across Alberta and in other unwinnable ridings. Luckily for the Liberals, there are plenty of unwinnable ridings to choose from.

Other parties trying to cash in may not be quite so lucky. To reach these quotas, many parties (especially the Conservatives) would likely resort to appointing dozens of female candidates in unheld ridings. Sure, having more women in politics is an admirable goal, but is it worth overruling the will of local riding associations? And what about the lack of aboriginals, visible minorities, and youth in politics? This proposal does little for them.

Dan suggests raising the election expenses rebate for female candidates as an alternative.


Gender equality and democracy (II)

  1. Is it worth overruling the will of the riding associations?  Absolutely.  They’re a private clique anyway.  The real will that counts is that of the voters’.  I like strong leadership, and if the leader of a party chooses to ‘parachute’ a strong candidate that he feels he would need in cabinet, a perfect example would be that of Marcel Massé, let him do it – and then democracy, i.e., the voters, decide.

    However, on the actual matter of  the Dewar proposal, I disagree.  I find it, how can I say, a bit like pimping (I’m sorry, I know it’s rude).

    • As a woman I find Dewar’s proposal patronizing.  I know there are still remnants of the old boys club in politics, but this isn’t the way to counter it.

    • The point of riding associations is to detach the loyalties of potential MPs from the leadership. Many strong MPs have gotten over clique EDAs by sigining up new members that they’ve convinced of their ability as a canadate. EDAs ensure, in one form or another, more democracy at the grass root level. Parachuting ensures the centeralization of leaders, which does not stop during elections. “Strong” party leaders are why a PM can act as a near dictator and why ‘debate’ in the House of Commons is little more than talking points only distinguished by the differing party ideologies.

      • The criteria for getting elected in a riding is to sell memberships….bringing lots of new people into the association.
        It hasn’t improved democracy in all these years.

        • That’s quite possibly my *least* favourite part of party politics. If someone actually wanted to contribute to a party somehow, it nearly always comes back to how much money you can bring in. It seems to me that new ideas, strategies, and thoughts are generally only welcome when they come with a bundle of new memberships. 

          I understand it, but I think, when combined with the high level of partisan stupidity (“I have to tolerate that crap *and* spend my time harassing people for money?”) it’s quite easy to see why it’s difficult to get – not just a desired number of women – but the legendary “quality” people that we seem to want involved in the process. 

          You’d have to *really* want to be elected to even want to join in the fray.

          • Yeah, it’s depressing. A totally unsuitable candidate can sell a lot of memberships, and bring those people out once to vote him in.

            The riding will never see those people again, but they have the money.

            And if they get a candidate they don’t like, for whatever reason, they’re quite willing to lose the riding rather than support him/her during an election.

            New ideas, strategies don’t come into it…many of them have no clue about what the job entails….but they do well schmoozing at a BBQ.

            Not a good way to run a country.

      • Nice in theory, but from what I see of the MPs on the government side, and I don`t recall Harper parachuting a large number of candidates, the loyalties of MPs is total these days.  Parachuting candidates, not as a rule but as an exception, provides a future PM the opportunity to bring in people a PM  needs.  What we see now is that we have to pay tens of thousand of dollars of day for consultants. Dion is an example, sworn into cabinet before he was elected, but Massé is the best example.  His background was  both perfectly suited for the job that Canada needed to get done in the nineties, yet his background precluded him from making a name for himself in politics.  As a former deputy minister of finance in NB and former Clerk of the privy council he made sure he stayed away from grassroots politics. Parachuting should be an exception but I see nothing undemocratic about it when in the end it’s the electorate that has the final word. 

    • “Is it worth overruling the will of the riding associations? 
      Absolutely.  They’re a private clique anyway.  The real will that counts
      is that of the voters’.”

      People who are a part of riding associations are simply the most enthusiastic voters.

      So you want to screw the most enthusiastic voters, supposedly for the benefit of the rest of the voters, by essentially robbing them of the ability to choose their own candidates.

      If you think voter turnout is low now, you can be sure it would drop after that.

      • Like Rob Anders riding – that’s got to have killed some enthusasm.

  2. The problem is, as it always has been, at the riding level.

  3. Not a fan of Dewar’s idea, but I gotta defend my riding (and all others).  Riding executives are a clique only if they are allowed to be a clique by nobody running against them, and nobody voting for the other guy.  Otherwise, the turnover is every two years at most.  My riding had a fairly big renewal this year, and we now have a female president, a female secretary, a female membership secretary and a female financial agent.  So, of table officers that’s four out of seven.  50-50 if you include past president as a table officer (I guess we do but I don’t actually know that) which is perfect!

    I read a study a few months ago that indicated a female riding president was more likely to have a female candidate than otherwise–perhaps because there is no vibe against the idea, or the president reaches out to more females to encourage them to run–there could be many reasons, but the evidence indicates a fairly big difference (like 20% or something, I wish I knew where I read that).

    So, that could be a start (getting more female riding presidents) but I still think the big thing holding many women back is the adversarial system of politics.  If I was going to consider being a candidate (and you can all relax, I’m not) I’d want to do it to make necessary and long overdue changes to certain things, as well as represent the area I’m from.  I wouldn’t want to spend my days planning a “gotcha” move, or bad mouthing every single idea that came from a party other than my own, or bobbing my head in time to my leaders baton.  The “game” as its currently played, is stupid.  But then, I don’t think it (should be) a game!

  4. Since when did equality mean providing special privileges for one gender over another, like increased election expense rebates?

    Equality is discrimination?

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