In planning for this 2015 election cycle, the Board of Women & Politics set out a strategy to identify the election issues most important to women in London and area. We started off with a survey to the community that identified 4 priorities:
From there, we organized a Women’s Issues Forum in June where we invited four women leaders to speak on these issues and invited discussion from the broader community. That event was well attended and sparked the formation of a sub-committee focused on election issues relating to young women. Women & Politics, along with the London Youth Advisory Council, successfully obtained a grant from the Laidlaw foundation to hold three evening events for young women. The topics chosen by the committee were, politics and youth, the future of work, and young women’s healthcare. These small group events created some interesting discussions with attendees, and several small election strategies were implemented, including a commitment to talk to young women in our community about health and politics.
Our biggest event was a World Cafe style All Candidates Meeting, organized in partnership with Business Professional Women London (BPW), which was held at Riverside United Church on September 29th. Over 100 people came out to the event, with eight candidates in attendance. Each candidate rotated between tables of their riding made up of 6-10 participants and a facilitator. Candidates were asked a variety of questions by participants and were also asked to respond to questions on the four women’s election issues, previously identified in our survey. The feedback on this event was very positive, with both candidates and participants expressing that the format allowed for deeper discussions and a unique opportunity for participants to engage with candidates.
We also participated in the World Homeless Action Day on October 8th, which raised awareness about homelessness in London and was organized by the London Homeless Coalition, London CAReS and United Way’s GenNext. Women & Politics offered up election information and questions one could ask candidates about how they and their party would address homelessness. It was privilege to attend this event and have the opportunity to share information on a key election issue, identified as a priority by women in our community.
Lastly, there was plenty of action happening on our website and on social media with an election resource page, regular blog posts on the identified key election issues, and regular posts related to election issues.
As promised when we initially sent out the survey at the beginning of the election cycle, we intend to hold candidates and their parties accountable for their promises. As such, we are posting the elected MPs survey responses on our website and we will be providing an updated report card on their progress in relation to these issues You can find the surveys here. Additionally, below you can see a quick summary of what Prime Minister Designate, Justin Trudeau and his party promised in relation to these issues. We are hopeful and cautiously optimistic that these promises will be upheld. It is vitally important to women in our communities that these and other issues are addressed.
On issues related to women and the election, on his first day as Prime Minister Designate, Trudeau stated the importance of holding an inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women. He also made a campaign promise to consult the Canadian people on electoral reform and institute some kind of change from the previous first past the post system, prior to the next election. In his party’s campaign platform, Trudeau pledged to commit $20 billion over 10 years to social infrastructure and to create a national housing action plan that would theoretically provide affordable housing for Canadians at all income levels. Trudeau’s party committed to providing “$125 million per year in tax incentives for developers and landlords to build and renovate rental units.” And lastly on the issue of health and refugees, according to the Liberal Party’s platform, the Liberal government promised to fully restore the Interim Federal Health Program for refugees. While C-24 is not directly mentioned in the Liberal platform, Trudeau has said throughout his campaign that the Liberal government would repeal C-24 and its second-class citizenship. We are pleased with these developments and will be watching local MPs and the larger government to see if and how they fulfill these promises.