. . . the excitement about a gender-balanced federal Cabinet has worn off some as we come to terms with the fact that women remain a distinct minority in the House. Many have expressed their dismay at the fact that there are so few women on the 28 House and joint House/Senate committees in Parliament. Some have questioned the government’s commitment to leveraging the talents of the women.
Clearly, few have done the math. While it may seems egregious, the reality is that with women comprising just 26 per cent of the House of Commons, parity on committees is nearly impossible. There are only 88 women in the House (versus 250 men). 50 of those belong to the Liberal caucus—more than half of whom are serving as Cabinet ministers or parliamentary secretaries, thereby precluding their capacity to sit on committees. The remaining Liberal women MPs are fewer than the current number of committees established. The opposition caucuses have, among them, just 38 women MPs and a limited number of seats on each committee. Ensuring there are more women serving as committee members can only happen if there are far more women elected to the House. It’s an obvious point but one that seems lost on many commentators.
This is why Equal Voice is so keen to encourage and equip thousands of more women to seek election—at all levels of government. And it’s precisely why we are preparing to do this work soon. It may seem premature, but the reality is that we will need hundreds of more women across parties to position, to seek, and secure federal nominations in the coming years if we are to achieve anything close to parity in the House of Commons, not just Cabinet. Only the NDP broke 40 per cent female candidates in the past election. As we celebrate an historic 100 years since (some) women in Canada attained the right to vote, achieving equal numbers of women and men on the ballot within the decade should be the ultimate goal.