28 January 2013

The New Sexism #nlpoli #cdnpoli

As the story goes, the crowd currently running this place were all set to issue a news release that the first woman premier in the province’s history was announcing the appointment of the first woman clerk of the House of Assembly.

Then someone quietly pointed out that another Premier had already done that.

In the 1970s.

Her name was Elizabeth Duff.

The current Premier and her posse like to make a big deal out of the fact that Kathy Dunderdale is the first woman Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador. 

This year they created a huge event to remind everyone of the way Kathy’s chromosomes are arranged.  They called it Ovations. 

Former opposition leader Yvonne Jones found a problem with a couple of provincial government appointments last week.  The Tories stuffed Ross Reid into a job as deputy minister for something called the population growth strategy.  They also teamed up with the federal government to appoint Ed Williams as vice chair of the offshore regulatory board.

Jones was not bothered about the fact that this was the first time that the provincial government has stuffed a blatant patronage appointee into a key administrative job at the board.  Not at all.

Nor was Jones unsettled that cabinet had essentially made up a job for Reid in an area the government had consciously ignored since 2003 in its policy-making.  And she didn’t seem to mind that the government was yet again stuffing a political staffer into a public service position.

Yvonne was pissed that neither of the pork-posts went to a woman.

More than anything else, this is Kathy Dunderdale’s political legacy.  This is the New Sexism in Newfoundland and Labrador.  As SRBP noted last year, though,

What has actually been remarkable about women premiers is that the average Canadian doesn’t seem to have noticed at all.  You just did not see letters to the editor and calls to open line shows gushing about the historic first of Kathy Dunderdale, the first woman premier of her province.  A few reporters and Dunderdale supporters have tried to play it up, but for the most part Dunderdale as the first elected woman premier is a non-issue.

Not an issue.

Much like this past weekend.  The first few reports from the Ontario Liberal party convention mentioned that the province would have its first woman Premier.  Some noted that Kathleen Wynne would also be the first lesbian Premier of Ontario.  others noted how many provinces and how much of Canada’s population now reside in provinces with women premiers.

Odds are that most people won’t judge these politicians based on their chromosomes or their sexual orientation.

That’s as it should be. 

Meanwhile, politicians  like Dunderdale and Jones  - firmly lost in the superficial sex politics of the distant past – might get a rude shock when people want to talk about results and policies rather whether or not the person making the decision was a woman or a man or was straight or gay or transgendered.