Not just trophy MLAs
During the Saskatchewan election in November, there wasn’t much news coverage about women in politics, which seems ridiculous considering that the election was already won before it started. The election was a great opportunity to discuss deeper issues rather than the inanity of where the leader of the party was and what colour tie they wore.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.
With only 11 women out of 58 total MLAs in the legislature for the next four years, women make up a mere 19 per cent of the legislature. The low numbers may have to do with the fact that the Saskatchewan New Democratic Party only ran 13 female candidates in the entire province, and the Saskatchewan Party ran just 10.
Whatever the reason, though, this disturbingly low number demonstrates a greater need to get women involved in all levels of politics.
Most people would agree there should be equality in politics. So the question is how is that going to happen?
This is the year 2011. There have been 27 governments of Saskatchewan, yet no female has ever been premier or Speaker of the House. Aside from the two seconds that Kim Campbell was in power by default, out of the 41 Federal governments formed, no women has been prime minister, finance minister, or Speaker.
It is clear that there needs to be change. So if we all agree on that, where is that change going to come from?
Unfortunately, it does not currently look like it will come from the NDP. They had the opportunity with the resignation of Dwayne Lingenfelter to appoint a woman as the new leader and re-invent the party. Deb Higgins, although not elected in the last trip to the polls, would have been a good choice, given her history with the party and her past in the legislature.
That leaves only one option. With the throne speech happening Dec. 5, this is an excellent opportunity for Brad Wall to make a Hail Mary attempt at equality and push for the election of a female Speaker, thus showing that women in parties are not simply being shuffled to the back row.
By having elected women more involved and visible in the daily operation of the legislature, a female Speaker would send the message to other women that females in politics are not just trophies the party can point to and say, “We support equality. Look at the woman in our caucus.”
So Mr. Wall and the rest of the MLAs, do the right thing and go down in history by electing a female Speaker. There are women just as qualified as any man you could select, and the time has come to recognize them.