Green leader pans voting system

NANAIMO – Elizabeth May to discuss female representation in politics at Nanaimo event this weekend.

Getting more women into Parliament and the B.C. Legislature means getting rid of the first-past-the-post system.

That’s according to Elizabeth May, federal Green Party leader and member of Canada’s new electoral reform committee, who will join four female leaders in Nanaimo Sunday (June 12) to talk about women in politics.

There’s been a national push to see more women in politics. Equal Voice B.C. reports on its website that 33.3 per cent of B.C. MPs in 2011 were women. Representation dropped by five per cent in 2015.

May said it’s the federal and B.C. first-past-the-post voting system that tends to produce parliaments with far fewer women than countries with proportional representation and to get more women in politics, one of the key reforms that has to be embraced is to get rid of first-past-the-post.

May believes the system creates nastiness, which discourages women from getting involved in politics.

“Proportional representation will change our culture, make us less hyper-partisan, allow us to have dialogue where we agree with each other more, work towards consensus more,” she said. “I am quite convinced that changing our voting system to a system where every vote counts will make a huge difference in making politics less unpleasant and more productive; it will help Canadian citizens feel prouder of what they see happening on Parliament Hill or B.C. legislature.”

May has encouraged women to get involved in politics, which is part of a Green Party mandate. To be a healthy democracy, she said, elected officials should reflect society as a whole, and Canadian society is 50 per cent women.

Natasha Bob, a Nanaimo school district trustee, sees the need for women to be encouraged, supported and that having male and female mentors to give encouragement helps.

She grew up with a grandfather, Wilson Bob, who was very active in aboriginal politics and well-known in B.C. for his advocacy. She grew up wanting to go into politics and spent two terms as a Snaw-Naw-As councillor before running as a candidate for the federal NDP nomination and later for Nanaimo school district.

She’s experienced difficult moments in balancing family and political life, she said, but is fortunate to have male and female mentors encouraging and supporting her.

Bob and May will speak at Be the Change, an event by the Equal Voice Central Vancouver Island, on Sunday from 12:30-3 p.m. Other speakers include Nanaimo-Ladysmith MP Sheila Malcolmson, Tofino Mayor Josie Osborne and Erralyn Thomas, Snuneymuxw First Nation councillor.

To register, please call the Grand Hotel at 250-758-3000.

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