July 13, 2006

Dion Gender-Equality Plan is Political Bull-Shit

I call BULLSHIT on Stephane Dion’s gender equality plan. Am I against women? Of course not. I would love to see 154 women candidates or more on our next electoral slate. However, I strongly believe that democracy should prevail over affirmative action.

Last election, Quebec lost three fantastic women MPs who were doing a great job and were very active in the Liberal caucus: Eleni Bakopanos, Liza Frulla, and Francoise Boivin. I worked on Eleni’s campaign and I will fight extremely hard for her if she is challenged in her nomination meeting because I believe she is the best person suited to represent the constituents of Ahuntsic. She loved what she was doing and was so darn good at doing it. Having Maria Mourani there is simply a waste.

Why do I defend Eleni? Certainly not because of what she has between her legs. I defend her because I believe in her. I also believe we can find more women like her to run for us in the next general election. My only problem with this scenario is that there are only a certain amount of ridings where people can win in Quebec at this time, about 15-25. If somebody runs a great local campaign and sells membership cards and wins the nomination meeting, is Stephane Dion seriously prepared to boot out the legitimate winner because of their reproductive organ? Now I won’t talk nomination meetings because Dion never had one, and we all know how “fun” Ignatieff’s nomination was, I just think that this is all fluff and not the Stephane Dion that I have known for years.

Some of you expect Denise to throw something large and heavy in my direction as well. But I know as much as she does that merit should always trump gender, plain and simple. The party can throw their weight behind a female candidate in a nomination race, but should never subvert democracy just to meet a certain statistic to put in their electoral platform. It is utterly ridiculous. If the female candidate is better qualified and better organized, she will likely win. Besides, is it a step forward for women’s rights if the only reason a woman got the nomination was because she is a woman. I would argue it is a step backwards.

There is another group severely under-represented in caucus, young people. It is harder for us to run for office because we have to raise money, which is harder for young people than it is for women. Ask Brigitte Legault, who herself, is running for VP francophone of the Liberal Party. She wants to work hard to get women involved in the party, as well as young professionals. She will tell you that forcing nominations is hardly a solution. I support Brigitte’s plan far more than I would stand behind Dion’s. We need to bring more women into politics, which in turn, will have more women seeking to run for office. Stephane Dion, grand-master of principle, is suggesting suspending democracy for political correctness. What have his handlers DONE to him?

What differentiates the Liberals from the NDP is that we are about equality of opportunity and not equality of result. Next election, I want the 308 best possible Canadians. Stephane Dion should want the 308 best Canadians too.

17 Commentaires:

Blogger YYC Liberal a dit...

Here here!

I agree

7/13/2006 2:54 a.m.  
Blogger Wah Fist a dit...

Where are the bullshit police when you need them?

I would like to make a BS call of my own: this is absolute reactionary silliness.

Given your soliloquy on the importance of merit, I see two possible reasons that you object to Dion’s plan:
(1) You do not believe that there are enough qualified women to run in 1/3 of ridings; or
(2) You do not believe that we will find them.

Given that Denise has not already bludgeoned you to death, I will grant that (1) is not likely. Actually, I am rather sympathetic to objection (2).

I have been involved in candidate searches and I am aware of how hard it can be to find good female candidates. But let’s face it, we will not find them if we do not look, and the crux of Dion’s plan is to make sure that we are looking real hard. It is not always easy to find talented people to run for us, and sometimes we need a little kick in the ass to work hard on tasks that aren’t easy.

So yeah, you can bleat on about how terrible it is to do appointments, but if you are doing it because you think that there will be any more appointments because of this, then I say relax you are probably wrong again. Let’s cut the crap about appointments and admit two things: everybody does it (yep, even the conservatives—multiple rejections = appointment boys and girls), and nobody likes doing it. Dion’s plan doesn’t change anything about the realities of appointments or offer the leader any new powers. It does push ridings to make sure that they have actually sought out women to seek the nomination.

By the way, have you given much thought to continuing your logic on this issue over on to the Young Liberals? Perhaps we should get rid of Young Liberal delegate spots to conventions—I mean what if they are not the most meritorious representatives of a riding. Besides, is it a step forward for young people’s rights if the only reason a young person got a delegate spot was because he/she were young. I would argue it is a step backwards. No wait that is your argument.

7/13/2006 6:47 a.m.  
Blogger Brian Appel a dit...

As I've said on Cherniak's site, I am in favour of Dion's intentions, provided that he doesn't go as far as the NDP sometimes goes. I agree that there are candidates that have every right to run in a riding, regardless of whether they be male or female, white or non-white. A strong white male candidate running to win back a riding here in Quebec would be much preferred to me than for us to put a nobody in the running just because she's a woman.

So, in conclusion, I am appreciative of Dion's intentions, provided that he doesn't go too far.

7/13/2006 6:50 a.m.  
Blogger Antonio a dit...

I knew I was going to get accused of being sexist. it is garbage, there is nothing sexist in my post.

I have seen candidate searches take place for the last election ehre in Quebec, and if the plan is to put the "only women we can find" in the 50 ridings we are going to lose, then I guess this plan doesnt really matter anyway.

However, let me be clear, Dion should not overturn the democratic will of the riding association on gender ALONE. I am not a big fan of appointments, but if the search begins earlier, the party can help the candidate sell cards in the riding. Press can be given to the candidate, and winning the nomination will be a lot easier. "Everybody does it" is simply not gonna cut it as an excuse with me.

Looking real hard is one thing, discrimination is another.

and wah, if you believe that convention spots are the equivalent to nominations in safe Liberal ridings, I would suggest a slight dose of reality. The youth are entitled to 1/3 of the spots, but usually they are not filled as they cannot pay the convention fee, most of their fees are paid for them. I did not pay to attend the 2005 Liberal convention, nor the 2002 or 1999 conventions. Giving youth more representation gives us more opportunity to be involved, which is why women are also accorded 50% of the spots as well. I do not argue we should change that. and I hope, neither do you.

7/13/2006 8:23 a.m.  
Blogger s.b. a dit...

It's all very interesting given you are backing a parachuted candidate who did not have a legitimate nomination meeting by anyone's standards.

Parachuting or summary nomination should only be used for qualified women from the riding and other marginalized candidates. Never for rich white men of priviledge from the US. That was a disgrace.

7/13/2006 9:06 a.m.  
Blogger s.b. a dit...

Yeah what can I say about young people, you're young. I think parlament should be a place for people with a bit more experience and wisdom, which doesn't always come with age but it's certainly correlative.

7/13/2006 9:08 a.m.  
Blogger s.b. a dit...

Honestly, I think I'm too young for Parliament. I would place a minimum age of 40 on running for Federal Parliament. We have drinking ages, ages of consent voting ages, why not an age for Parliament. 40 is just about the minimum. Yeah Chretien was younger than that, but the poor thing had almost no other life. It was almost cruel. People should experience life outside of Parliament Hill before they sit in it.

7/13/2006 9:15 a.m.  
Blogger MERBOY a dit...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

7/13/2006 10:23 a.m.  
Blogger MERBOY a dit...

Am I the only one who thinks they should start a new reality show to pick candidates... it could be like America's Next Top Model... but with people of both genders.

Is there anyone out there who doesn't want to see more hot MPs?

7/13/2006 10:33 a.m.  
Blogger Hangin to the left a dit...

I guess what it comes down to is how you define merit. If you believe that those women who are just as qualified and have worked just as hard to become an MP, but have received less financial support because they are a particular gender makes them "merit" the job less, then you're right.

But if you look at the gender inequality and barriers that exist for women in politics, you'll see that merit should be defined very differently.

7/13/2006 12:20 p.m.  
Blogger Joshua Fraser a dit...

As an Aboriginal person trying to increase Aboriginal numbers in the House of Commons, I would certainly not support a quota system. I have talked about this with our Liberal Aboriginal MPs and they seem to agree that they won their riding nomination fair-and-square and they also won their constituency seat just the same as everybody else did. They said if there was a quota system and they won their seat through that system, they wouldn't feel equal to their counterparts.

In terms of putting diversity (women, aboriginal, youth) candidates in ridings that a safe to the Liberals, I would support that, and I know past Liberal leaders have done this.

7/13/2006 4:08 p.m.  
Blogger Jason Cherniak a dit...

You might call BS, Antonio, but I think you are full of it. What do you suggest we do to fix this problem? The Liberal Party offers an option to Canadians. "Democracy" is when Canadians select whether to vote for the Liberal option. I believe that offering a larger slate of women candidates is giving Canadians a choice. It makes a statement and says that instead of paying lip service to equality, we actually mean it. It is unfortunate that some good men will not get nominations because of this - it might even affect me one day! Nevertheless, I believe that actions speak louder than words.

The fact of the matter is that we have a "system". That system disproportionately hurts the chances of women who try to run for politics. Indeed, the new fundraising rules make it even harder for women! While I would prefer to change the system entirely, a hand up for those who are held down by the existing system is the next best thing. What you propose is that we continue talking about it while doing nothing.

7/13/2006 7:11 p.m.  
Blogger Antonio a dit...

Jason,

here is where you get yourself into trouble.

Firstly, I fully support the party giving the leg up to any candidate it believes should win a nomination.

Secondly, I believe the next leader should commit to having 308 nomination meetings next election minus the sitting MPs, who dont have the same kind of time to defend themselves while in Ottawa.

As a result, the party should create a separate clause for members wanting to oust a sitting MP.

Thirdly, if the party gives an advantage to a candidate, under the Dion assumption, they would only be doing so dependent on genetilia, which aside from being slightly ridiculous, imagine it being the other way around.

Fourth, if a male candidate wins, can he have a sex change before Dion brings down the hammer?

Fifth, if the party gives the woman an advatage in a nomination and she still happens to lose, do you not think this may be the riding association sending a particular message?

Sixth, we should not turf qualified women from their nominations, even if it means recruiting the daughter of a billionaire auto-parts magnate.

Seventh, how we can expect to better democracy by disrespecting the democratic will of the grassroots membership? If there is no democracy at the grassroots, there is no democracy at all.

7/13/2006 8:30 p.m.  
Blogger Andrew Lang a dit...

In true Canadian fashion I will simultaneously agree and disagree.

The positive results of affirmative action are undeniable. Yet it raises the question of the rights of the majority dictating the rights of the minority. In this case the majority is comprised of women and the minority is the lone highly qualified male whose dream of public service is quashed by a Leader’s appointment of woman candidate due to an institutionalized rule.

And yet Mr. Dion has to do something.

It is my belief that while there is room for some top down direction in this area, the main impetus must come from the ground up.

Women will not engage in politics at the same rate as men because women don’t engage in politics at the same rate as men. (Self-fulfilling lunacy)

The dual action required, would ready the ground for women to get involved while subtly affecting the perception that politics is a boys club.

Affirmative action is swinging a pendulum past centre. The inherent danger for Mr. Dion is that the pendulum wants to swing back.

Your comparison to the NDP is apt. They go for quantity, we go for quality. Perhaps Mr. Dion should endeavour to attain both.

Andrew Lang
venividiveritas.blogspot.com

7/14/2006 3:39 p.m.  
Blogger Andrew Lang a dit...

In true Canadian fashion I will simultaneously agree and disagree.

The positive results of affirmative action are undeniable. Yet it raises the question of the rights of the majority dictating the rights of the minority. In this case the majority is comprised of women and the minority is the lone highly qualified male whose dream of public service is quashed by a Leader’s appointment of woman candidate due to an institutionalized rule.

And yet Mr. Dion has to do something.

It is my belief that while there is room for some top down direction in this area, the main impetus must come from the ground up.

Women will not engage in politics at the same rate as men because women don’t engage in politics at the same rate as men. (Self-fulfilling lunacy)

The dual action required, would ready the ground for women to get involved while subtly affecting the perception that politics is a boys club.

Affirmative action is swinging a pendulum past centre. The inherent danger for Mr. Dion is that the pendulum wants to swing back.

Your comparison to the NDP is apt. They go for quantity, we go for quality. Perhaps Mr. Dion should endeavour to attain both.

Andrew Lang
venividiveritas.blogspot.com

7/14/2006 3:41 p.m.  
Blogger Manitoba Liberal a dit...

The Liberal Party needs to recruit and encourage strong female candidates, but we don't need the leader from above imposing anyone on a riding.

Also I will go a step farther than Antonio and say that the party should allow all 308 ridings to have open nomination battles, regardless of who they are held by, a 25 year vetern Liberal MP or not.

If an MP can't garner support in his riding from Liberals than he/she don't deserve to be an MP.

Dion clearly is thinking like an academic that got handed a safe riding on a silver platter and never had to bother with the the average Liberal member, until he chose to run for leadership.

7/14/2006 7:54 p.m.  
Blogger falco348 a dit...

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8/18/2006 4:46 p.m.  

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