Why we remain neutral

Why we remain neutral

In the fall, Women & Politics launched a public campaign for equal representation on City Council – to have 50% of councillors identify as women, and 50% identify as men. Since then, we’ve provided media training, a campaign school, a leadership workshop, and networking events to support women in their various leadership roles in the community and to help candidates prepare for their campaigns.

As we move into the depths of election season, here are a few more ways we’re supporting women candidates:

  • Q&A with Women & Politics: We’re conducting interviews with all women candidates and will then post the interviews on our website so that the community can get to know the candidates better.
  • Resource page: We’re developing a new resource page on our website that highlights the key lessons from our campaign school (volunteer coordination, data management, networking, fundraising, etc.) for those who were unable to attend.
  • All Candidates Meetings in each ward: In partnership with the Urban League of London and the London Community Foundation, we will be hosting all candidates meetings in all 14 wards.
  • Campaign advice: Our Vice-Chair and campaign expert, Marci Allen-Easton, has sat down with numerous women candidates and provided general advice for their campaigns. All women candidates are invited to connect with her.
  • We are also consulting with candidates to see if there are other ways we can support candidates in an inclusive way (i.e. offering the support to all candidates). Please stay tuned because there will be more to come.

Many people have asked us about endorsing women candidates to support their campaigns. While this seems like a logical next step in our efforts, we choose not to specifically support any local women candidates. This means our board members (who have various political leanings)  and our organization will not endorse any specific local candidates.

Why do we do this?

Women & Politics is a citizen-led grassroots organization based in London. We are a non-partisan organization and provide resources and supports to all women. Our mission is to amplify women’s voices in the realm of politics – it is broader than winning elections. It is for women to engage in politics in the way that makes most sense to them. By endorsing candidates, we could alienate supporters of our organization who don’t agree with a candidate’s views. This could end up causing women to be silent on issues that matter to them – the complete opposite result of what we’re working for.

Being non-partisan sometimes means you must be quiet so that all voices can be heard. That doesn’t mean it’s easy; we would love to endorse candidates and drive more political conversations. But we would be doing a disservice to our organization if we chose to endorse local candidates in an election at any level. By remaining non-partisan we are in the strongest position to advocate on issues that affect all women, and to work toward our mission of amplifying all women’s voices.

We look forward to continuing our work and finding new ways to support all women candidates.

Anne-Marie on behalf of the Board of Women & Politics

Coming Together: US Election Debrief

Event Summary and Next Steps

We would like to thank everyone who participated at our post-election held in November. The purpose of the event was to have an opportunity to share how women experienced the election, the days after the election, and to unpack what it means to have Donald Trump win the US election. The women that night were vulnerable and honest. They expressed valuable insights and then rallied together to find ways to move forward. As promised, here is a summary of the ideas that were shared. These ideas are of the community, not of Women & Politics; therefore, if you are interested in leading or contributing to an action/initiative, please feel free to comment below and state which one you are interested in.

Working with school boards ~ ensuring that there are guidelines for teachers to follow so that students do not feel like their environment has changed as a result of the election.

Safety pin campaign ~ Promoting the use of safety pins in solidarity of marginalized people who may be affected by the election.

Education on White Privilege/ Anti-Oppression Training ~ provide educational opportunities (e.g. workshops) for people to understand how racism affects everyone.

Op-Ed Writing ~ Workshops for women to learn how to write op-eds and create intentional strategy to have more women write op-eds in the local paper.

Consent ~ Teach kids about consent and the effects of rape culture

Campaign against Carding ~ (largely implemented) encourage community leaders to stand against carding, create online petition against carding, put pressure on police services board and Chief Pare to stop carding.

Your Voice Counts: Issues Affecting Women New to Canada

i Aug 11th No Comments by

This past spring, Women & Politics surveyed women from across London, Ontario to hear what issues were important to them for the upcoming Federal election. Four themes emerged:

  • Missing and murdered Indigenous women
  • Affordable housing
  • Issues affecting women new to Canada
  • Getting more women elected and proportional representation

Women & Politics held a public event with experts to discuss each topic at the beginning of June to help women learn more about these issues. You can find a summary of the event here. Our next step was to learn where candidates stand on these issues. Women & Politics is currently conducting an online survey with all of the candidates of each riding in London, asking them pertinent questions that relate to each area. We will provide their responses on our website in the next few weeks.

To further explore each topic, Women & Politics is also dedicating a blog post on each topic. This blog post will focus on Issues Affecting Women New to Canada. This topic will be broken down into two areas: access to healthcare and Bill C24. The online survey to candidates asked questions pertaining to these two areas.

 Access to adequate healthcare as a newcomer

In Canada, the type of resident that you are determines your level of access to healthcare. This is especially true for newcomers. If you came as a permanent resident, you have access to the same health care as all Canadian citizens. If you arrive to Canada as a refugee, you receive the Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP). In 2012, the Federal government, under Prime Minister Stephen Harper, reduced the healthcare services to which refugees would have access to. In 2014, the Federal Court of Canada found these cuts not only “cruel and unusual” but also unconstitutional. The Conservative government is appealing this decision but this will not be heard until after the election.

 Further reading: http://www.doctorsforrefugeecare.ca/the-issue.html

Newcomers who are not refugees still face significant challenges in receiving optimal health care such as language barriers, racial discrimination, increased social isolation, eligibility issues, and a lack of understanding of the Canadian health care system. These layered challenges are often especially true for women newcomers who are often, at first, more isolated and less integrated to their new Canadian communities.

The next government can help newcomers receive better access to health care by offering better supports and helping them navigate the system more easily.

 Further reading: http://www.kidsnewtocanada.ca/care/barriers

Bill C24 – Strengthening the Canadian Citizenship Act

In June 2015, the Conservative government instated new legislation that effectively creates a two-tier citizenship system in Canada. This new legislation allows the Canadian government to revoke Canadian citizenship to dual citizens who have been convicted of terrorism, spying offences or high treason. A dual citizen is anyone who is eligible to receive citizenship from another country from Canada, even if they were born in Canada. For example, a Canadian whose mother was born in Britain, may not have applied for dual citizenship but is eligible for dual citizenship, can have their Canadian citizenship revoked, if convicted of terrorism, spying offences or high treason.

Further reading: https://bccla.org/2015/06/nine-things-you-need-to-know-about-the-changes-to-canadian-citizenship/#3

We have asked candidates who are campaigning in the London area the following questions related to this topic:

  • Newcomers to Canada experience high levels ofsocial isolation and often have multiple barriers in receiving optimal health care. If elected, how will you and your party address these challenges?
  • Please comment on Bill C24, the legislation that gives the Canadian government the power to revoke Canadian citizenship and also makes it more difficult to become Canadian.

Please stay tuned to read each of their responses.