New Brunswick urges women to get into politics

Premier Brian Gallant says he'll use social media to encourage more women to put their names forward

Andrew Vaughan/CP

Andrew Vaughan/CP

FREDERICTON — In a province where fewer than one in five mayors are female, New Brunswick has launched a social media campaign to encourage more women to run in this spring’s municipal elections.

Premier Brian Gallant says he wants more women at the decision-making tables after the May 9 elections provincewide, because studies show that would lead to a stronger economy and better governance.

Women remain under-represented within all levels of government in New Brunswick.

At the municipal level in 2012, women accounted for 32 per cent of all councillor positions and only 18 per cent of all elected mayors.

To get more women to put their names forward as candidates, the premier and the provincial Women’s Equality Branch is sending out encouraging tweets over the next two weeks.

The bilingual Twitter campaign, which started Wednesday and uses the hashtags #GetintheRace and #DevenezCandidate, has included tweets that link to a candidate guide for women and nomination papers.

Gallant has offered one tweet so far: “Our government is encouraging women to put their names forward as candidates in the upcoming municipal elections.”

The province says more than 1,000 women and men are expected to step forward to run for positions in local governments, district education councils and regional health authorities.

In neighbouring Nova Scotia, the province’s Advisory Council on the Status of Women has offered a women’s campaign school for years.

The day-long event typically feature presentations by past and present politicians and candidates, as well as information on campaign fundraising and social media.

Joanne Bernard, Nova Scotia’s community services minister, attended the event before she ran for office in 2013 and won.

“It was a very supportive environment and I took away a lot of valuable information,” she said in a statement when the most recent campaign school was held last fall.

The Nova Scotia campaign school is offered at no charge and bursaries are available for women who need child care.

At the federal level, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made headlines around the world when he delivered on a promise last fall to make his cabinet gender balanced.

Trudeau has said that bold move was made possible by years of dogged recruiting work.

“I know politics is nasty and attacky and divisive, and it’s seen as a man’s game and an old white guy’s game more than anything,” he said during a recent town hall organized by Huffington Post. “We need to start changing that.”

A record 88 women were elected in the 2015 federal election, up from 76 in 2011. Still, only 25 per cent of the members of Parliament are women.