12 August 2009

Making council races partisan affairs

An effort ostensibly aimed at encouraging women to get involved in municipal politics – where there are no political parties – turned into a partisan affair.  A meeting in St. John’s organised by the status of women’s council included only Tory speakers.

And not surprisingly, as cbc.ca/nl put it, “[w]omen who spoke at the sessions Tuesday brushed off criticism that the meetings have favoured Progressive Conservatives.”  They then quoted Tory cabinet minister Diane Whelan.

No invitations to speak were extend to any women with NDP or Liberal affiliations apparently.

Equal Voice – a non-partisan, national group dedicated to increasing the number of women candidates in politics at all levels – wasn’t involved.

There’s a good reason for that:  this event is tied to a campaign launched by Whelan last spring.

If anyone had been serious about a non-partisan campaign, they’d have organized it through an established non-partisan group like Equal Voice.

As it is, the whole thing starts to smell a little funky and a really good cause – getting more women in politics as candidates – gets twisted into something else.  It’s hard to believe that this event could wind up having only three speakers  - Flora MacDonald, Shannie Duff and Diane Whelan - and all of them have Tory ties.