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Quebec party leaders make their pitches for gender parity
Quebec’s party leaders are each making promises on how to get more women into politics and create gender parity at the National Assembly.
Party leaders handed a proposal for a bill from the non-partisan Groupe Femmes, Politique et Democracie Tuesday, calling for parity in Quebec politics – and specifically, an amendment to the Election Act that would force all political parties to ensure women make up 40 to 60 per cent of all candidates.
The public push was made in a room filled mostly with women, including female MNAs who've broken into what many say is still a ‘boys’ club’ and a tough environment.
“It's difficult, but we have to feel that we are respected, that people are having discussions with us, not fighting with each other,” said Helene David, the minister responsible for the status of women.
PQ deputy leader Veronique Hivon said a better work-life balance would also help.
“We would have a maternal and parental leave. That is quite a change. It's quite unbelievable that it's not something that's available for the members of the National Assembly.”
PQ leader Jean-Francois Lisee said if elected, his government would also table a bill aimed at bringing parity to the National Assembly.
“We'll have the discussion on the means, the mechanisms, but clearly it's a strong political signal that the National Assembly has to send to society and to itself, that it wants to meet a higher standard of equality,” he said.
CAQ leader Francois Legault is taking note, saying he's not committing to a bill, but is promising a gender-balanced cabinet if he's the next premier.
“Of course it means that we have to make sure that in the ridings that are winnable, that we have as many women as possible,” he said.
The Liberals are aiming for the "parity zone" as they choose candidates for the next election, meaning women would represent between 40 and 60 per cent of all candidates.
“I think we're going to be doing much better this time in 2018 than last time. We still have to wait until we finish our selection, but we're on the right track,” said Premier Philippe Couillard.
A question on whether women do politics differently was posed for the minister responsible for the status of women – and instead, the premier was eager to jump in.
“I'll answer yes. They do – and for the better. I want to answer that as a man, because I've seen it, and I know it's true,” he said. “I'm sorry to answer for women… I wanted to say this as a man, because this is something we men all have to think about.”
Women currently represent just under 30 per cent of members at the National Assembly, putting Quebec's parliament in 47th place in world rankings.