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Equal Voice News Spring / Summer 2009

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Equal Voice - Successfully Launches Canada Challenge 2009

Canada Challenge 2009

In mid-June, Equal Voice secured the commitments of all major federal parties to our Canada Challenge 2009: Building the Momentum to Elect More Women. Federal party representatives participated in a press conference hosted by Equal Voice on June 18th and party leaders rose in the House of Commons on the same day to make this commitment.

EV issued the Challenge to all federal party leaders to increase their efforts to nominate more women to run as candidates for their parties in the upcoming federal election. In the federal election of 2008, nearly 28% of all federal candidates were women, a historic high for Canada. We asked leaders to improve upon this performance as we work towards ensuring that Canada's federal Parliament is represented by a minimum of 33% women, also know as a critical mass.

Now that the Challenge has been accepted, the work has just begun! Equal Voice will monitor the nominations process of each party to see how each is faring with their commitment. We look forward to reporting on the parties’ progress over the summer and fall

Equal Voice - Grants EVE Awards to Two Esteemed Women

Main Content Inline Small This past April, Equal Voice had the privilege of honouring two prominent women with EVE Awards, the Right Honourable Kim Campbell, former Prime Minister of Canada, and EV EVE Award (Ottawa) winner, the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, current federal Minister of Health.

Ms. Campbell spoke to a full house at the Royal York Hotel as the 2009 recipient of the Equal Voice Eve Award (Toronto), in recognition of her achievements in political life. In a speech filled with humour, passion and indignation, she recommended that Canada modify its electoral system to one of dual member constituencies in which one woman and one man would represent each federal riding.

“In the end, gender parity in government has to be seen not just as a goal to be achieved, but a right to be demanded,” Ms. Campbell noted. To read more about Ms. Campbell’s proposal, click here or watch the full proceedings courtesy of the Canadian Club.

Main Content Inline Small Leona Aglukkaq is the first sitting Minister and first Inuit woman to receive the award. During a nearly sold-out lunch co-hosted by the Canadian Club and Equal Voice, Minister Aglukkaq emphasized the value of education and outreach to women, particularly young women, in order that they have the tools, information and encouragement necessary to make informed choices about their lives and to become politically active on the issues that matter to them. She noted that while there are now 11 women in federal cabinet, the under-representation of women in political life remains a real issue throughout the country.

To read the full text of her speech, click here.

Polling Data: Reveals that Canadians want more women elected

In tandem with the Canada Challenge, Equal Voice released new polling data from Environics Research Group showing that Canadians want more women elected. Click here.

The poll revealed that 85 percent of Canadians support “efforts to increase the number of women elected in this country”. Only 11 percent of Canadians oppose such efforts. The poll reveals that large majorities of voters for all the federal political parties want to see more women in elected office. Significant majorities of Conservative Party voters (76%) Liberal Party voters (89%), NDP voters (93%), Bloc Quebecois voters (88%), and Green Party voters (87%) say they support efforts to increase the number of women elected. As well, 85 percent of undecided voters are in agreement.

“Political parties have everything to gain and nothing to lose by substantially increasing their numbers of female candidates” said pollster Donna Dasko, Senior Vice- President of Environics Research Group and National Chair (Acting) of Equal Voice.

To read more about the poll, click here.

Equal Voice - Launches Experiences: a National Mentorship Program

Main Content Inline Small In early February, Equal Voice launched a national mentorship program aimed at advancing the participation of young girls and women in political life. With funding from Status of Women Canada for over two years, the Experiences project is working in partnership with other organizations to increase democratic participation and engagement among girls and young women.

Participating girls aged 12 to 18 and young women aged 18-25 will be introduced to positive role models and mentors and nurture their political literacy in order to inspire them to become political leaders in the future.

Since its launch, former EV Executive director Fran Gagnon has become Senior Program Director for this project. Experience has also hired three regional youth coordinators: Amanda Reaume for Western Canada (based in Vancouver); Courtney Bragg in Atlantic Canada and Tracey-Lee Eddy in Central Canada. Together with Fran, they have collectively travelled to over 12 communities from Hamilton to Iqualuit, Vancouver to Toronto, Regina to St. Johns, Sudbury to Halifax and beyond. Consult the Experiences map to see all of the communities visited to date.

Approximately 700 young women have shared their ideas with Equal Voice about what’s important and why we need more of you involved in running our country.


The Founders Chapter (Toronto)

> Read about the EVE Award (Toronto) granted to Kim Campbell

> FC hosts Experiences day at Queen's Park

> Read more about Sylvia Bashevkin’s book: Women, Power, Politics: The Hidden Story of Canada's Unfinished Democracy.

> The next Ontario Challenge

Equal Voice NCR

> Chapter renews leadership and elects a dynamic group of women for 2009 – 2010

Nova Scotia

> Equal Voice Nova Scotia Congratulates Women Elected to Provincial Legislature

> Download the EVNS ‘Government is Us’ do-it-yourself civic education workshop

British Columbia

> EVBC notes percentage of women elected provincially slowly trending upwards

> EVBC elects new Chapter Chair

Alberta North

> Experiences program comes to Alberta

> EVAN attends BC campaign school

>Women in municipal government

>Joint meeting held between North and South

>Ophelia’s voice

NF and Labrador

> The EVNL’s steering group plans to formalize its chapter in the coming months.
Stay tuned!



> Watch proceedings from a multi-partisan panel hosted by the Canadian Political Science Association and Equal Voice on women’s under representation

> Read Janet Ecker’s speech to the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario in Toronto on April 16th, 2009. Janet responded to the founder of the US based Whitehouse Project.

> Equal Voice speaks to the 25th Girl Guides (Ottawa)

> EV Presents to McGill’s University’s Women in the House Program



EV Remebers


Equal Voice wishes to remember Marion Dewar who passed away on September 15th 2009. Marion was one of EV’s first National Advisory Board members and a long-standing leader in the realm of women and politics. Marion got her start in politics at the age of 44 when she became an Ottawa alderman for Britannia Ward in 1972. She was elected Deputy Mayor in 1974, a position she held until 1978 at which time she was elected as mayor of Ottawa, a position she held for seven years (between 1978-1985).

In addition to electoral politics, she also served as the chair of Oxfam Canada and became a member of the Order of Canada in 2002.


Equal Voice is now in the process of recruiting mentors so that interested young women will have access to the guidance and inspiration of more seasoned women and men who have dedicated part of their lives to the political process. If you or someone you know would like to be a mentor, click here. To view all of the partners that are contributing to Experiences success, click here.

Equal Voice - Poised to Release Version of ‘Getting to the Gate’ dedicated
to Aboriginal Women’s participation

EV’s on-line campaign school Getting to the Gate continues to grow!

The development of the Aboriginal section of the on-line school has involved extensive in-person research in aboriginal communities and with aboriginal women across the country. From this research, a framework was developed for the module as well as tips, tools and stories from Aboriginal women who have held public office.

A talented aboriginal writer was commissioned by EV to craft the content using the seven grandfathers' teachings: Truth, Honesty, Bravery, Humility, Love, Respect and Wisdom. The module includes practical information and personal guidance for aboriginal women seeking public office.

EV acknowledges STATUS OF WOMEN CANADA and the first draft of the module is currently going through community and peer reviews and will be finalized in the next few weeks. Equal Voice acknowledges the various EV members who have contributed to this module throughout this project. The journey has been an illuminating one.

Equal Voice encourages members to refer people to our Getting to the Gate initiative on our website at The generic version was launched in 2006 and remains a dynamic and relevant tool for women contemplating running for office. The Aboriginal version will be ready by the end
of this year.

Equal Voice - Staff and board changes

In January 2009, Raylene Lang Dion, EV’s National Chair stepped down in order to take a personal leave. Donna Dasko, EV’s Vice chair and Senior Vice President for Environics Research Group, immediately assumed the position of National Chair (Acting).

Equal Voice heartily thanks Raylene for her years of service to Equal Voice and looks forward to working with her again in the future.

EV wishes to thank Janet Wiegand for her leadership of the EVBC chapter for nearly five years. Equal Voice also wishes to thank Kerry Patterson-Baker for her contribution to Equal Voice as Chapter Development Chair.

Equal Voice extends its appreciation to Janet Buckmaster who served as Acting Vice-Chair from January to June. Beki Scott has now assumed the position of Acting Vice-Chair.

Equal Voice welcomes Sherri Moore-Arbour as the new chair of Equal Voice National Capital Region and Carolyn Jack as the new chair of EV British Columbia.

In May 2009, Francoise Gagnon, who provided excellent leadership to Equal Voice as Executive Director for over a year, decided to dedicate herself full time to Experiences as its Senior Program Director. Fran’s passion for Experiences is palpable and EV appreciates Fran’s engagement with this initiative.

Also in May 2009, Nancy Peckford was hired as Equal Voice’s Executive Director. Nancy has a long tenure in the field of advocacy and women’s human rights and had previously been active with Equal Voice NCR.