“It’s nice to see Liberals trying to catch up to what Greens have been doing since their inception.” – David Coon
Article by: JOHN CHILIBECK
Premier Brian Gallant says he’ll exert his authority as Liberal leader if he thinks the party hasn’t nominated enough women candidates for the provincial election.
So far, the party is on target to hit its goal of nominating women in at least half of the ridings where a Liberal incumbent isn’t already running.
But Gallant acknowledged Tuesday there’s no guarantee the party will hit the goal if he doesn’t step in. As interest in the Sept. 24 election grows, some fierce nomination battles are expected.
“I have the ability to appoint a handful of women, if needed, to hit our target and I’m willing to use it,” he told Brunswick News. “I used it last time.”
In the 2014 election in which Gallant won a majority, he ensured Francine Landry was nominated in Madawaska Les Lacs-Edmundston. She has since been named to the provincial cabinet.
As it stands, only eight of the 49 MLAs in the legislature are women – four Liberals and four Tories, one of the worst gender inequities in the country, according to Women for 50% 2018, a nonpartisan group seeking balanced representation in New Brunswick.
The premier said a balance had to be struck between respecting the will of members in the different ridings and helping more women get elected.
Of the 28 candidates the Liberals have nominated so far, 12 are women.
NDP leader Jennifer McKenzie, the only female leader of the province’s six registered political parties, described the Liberal promise as weak because it only includes ridings that are not already in Liberal hands, 24 of
49. Half of that is only 12.
“It’s not much of a target because most of their seats are filled by men,” she said. “It may seem like a lofty target, but it’s not all that impressive.”
Running in her first campaign with a party that holds no seats, McKenzie said it’s obvious to her the perspective in the house is too masculine.
“A lot of the policy and the discussion are more important to that half of the population,” she said, adding that proposals about minimum wage, childcare, pharmacare and seniors care would benefit from a female perspective.
So far, seven of the NDP’s nine nominated candidates are women.
The Progressive Conservative Party, which is the official opposition, won’t earmark a certain number of nominations for women.
“I am very encouraged to say that over half of our new candidates are women, and equally notable, over half of those women nominated were nominations by contest,” leader Blaine Higgs wrote in an email.
Seven of the Tories’ 13 nominated candidates are women.
The Green Party, which holds one seat in the house, has had a gender balance goal the last two elections and so far has 10 women and 12 men nominated or acclaimed.
“It’s nice to see Liberals trying to catch up to what Greens have been doing since their inception,” said leader David Coon. He said while he works hard to recruit female candidates, he won’t intervene in democratic nomination contests.
The People’s Alliance has no seats, but four of its 16 nominated candidates are women.
“We do not discriminate,” said leader Kris Austin. “We certainly welcome female candidates but will not have any policies to give any one individual an advantage over another based on gender, sexual orientation or ethnicity.”
The K.I.S.S. party has still not registered any candidates, according to the Elections New Brunswick website.