Remember to look in local weekly newspapers across Battle River – Crowfoot for my Parliamentary Report.
It was pleasure to welcome Brianna Hughes of Wainwright to Ottawa during the week of April 1st. Brianna, who is studying Human Ecology at the University of Alberta, was in the Nation’s Capital with the Daughters of the Vote. This event is organized by Equal Voice Canada to promote the engagement of women in politics. 338 young women were selected to represent each riding across Canada. I was honoured to have Ms. Hughes take my seat in the House of Commons as all the seats in Parliament were occupied by aspiring and inspiring ladies from across the country.
This bold initiative began in 2017 to mark the 100th anniversary of the federal suffrage for women in Canada. The objective of the week-long event is to ensure that the chosen 338 “emerging young women leaders” learn about Canada’s political institutions and to encourage them to become involved in the political arena. Equal Voice, a multi-partisan organization, has been advocating for the equal representation of women in Canada’s Parliament; in provincial and territorial legislatures; and in municipal and band councils.
While the 2015 election resulted in the highest number of elected women ever, only 26 percent of our Federal Members of Parliament are female. This number is a long way off from representing the number of women in the general population of Canada. Although we do have approximately the same proportion of female MPs as the average European country and slightly more than in the United States, Canada still ranks only 50th in the world.
Each of the participants of the Daughters of the Vote event were provided the opportunity to address their “Parliamentary colleagues” (for a brief time). They made statements on issues such as environment, religious freedoms, accessibility and Indigenous people. Overlooking from the gallery were former Attorney General, Jody Wilson-Raybould and the former President of the Treasury Board, Dr. Jane Philpott, as well as, the outspoken and former Liberal Caucus member, Celina Caesar-Chavannes. It was rather ironic that these respected women were there applauding these young women who are being encouraged to speak up, just hours after they were ousted from the Liberal Caucus for being principled and speaking their truth to power.
Many of these young women later showed the Prime Minister what they thought of him for ejecting these former Senior Cabinet Minister and denying them the opportunity to run as Liberals in the 2019 election. They turned their backs on him while he attempted to rationalize about the importance of loyalty. Others walked out of the Chamber when Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer spoke to protest some of our policies.
I would like to say, I do not have any problem with the divergence of opinion or disagreement they may have been trying to express in their actions. I do, however, have a problem with the lack of respect shown to the Prime Minister of Canada and the Leader of the Official Opposition. Both these men were democratically elected to these high positions. Turning your back or walking out on these two leaders is the same as turning your back on the esteemed institutions and offices they represent.
First and foremost, any aspiring political representatives must know that while we state our disagreement on policies and certain actions, we cannot in the process disrespect the person or the position they hold. I learnt this great lesson early in my career from a valued colleague, Richard Marz, MLA, from Three Hills.
It is my sincere hope that many young and impressive men and women like Brianna one day aspire to become leaders in our country. The in-depth discussion I was fortunate to have with her gave me great hope that in the not too distance future, she and other equally meritorious candidates will rightfully sit in the Parliament of Canada.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding this or previous columns you may write me at 4945-50th Street, Camrose, Alberta, T4V 1P9, call 780-608-4600, toll-free 1-800-665-4358, fax 780-608-4603 or e-mail Kevin.Sorenson.firstname.lastname@example.org.