They’re Going to Get it Done, Come Hell or High Water

This just creeps me out. Does it creepyou out?

Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion is prepared to take “extraordinary measures” to boost the ranks of women candidates in the next election, including barring men from seeking nominations in some ridings.

During last year’s leadership race, Dion promised that under his watch at least a third of the party’s candidates in the next election would be women.

But campaign organizers have concluded that the ambitious goal will be impossible to reach without some intervention to secure nominations for female candidates.

So-called green-light committees, set up to run the party’s nomination process in each province, have been empowered to ensure the 33 per cent target is met. Among other things, the committees can set dates for nomination meetings and approve or reject nomination papers from those seeking to carry the Liberal colours.

Where necessary, the committees will be able to simply refuse to allow men to run for nominations in some ridings.

“We’re trying to find the techniques that are consistent with our democratic processes to the greatest extent possible,” said Gerard Kennedy, Dion’s special adviser on election readiness.

Local riding associations are being encouraged as much as possible to find women to seek nominations. But, with an election possible as early as next month, Kennedy said the party simply doesn’t have the luxury of a lengthy recruitment drive.

Consequently, he said the party will have to use more drastic measures to ensure a sufficient number of women wind up on the Liberal election roster.

“We’re still studying and discussing some of the techniques that we might use, such as women-only contests or what have you. But I think those measures will be somewhat exceptional,” he said.

The leader retains the power to simply appoint women candidates, bypassing the nomination process altogether, but insiders say Dion wants to use that power sparingly, if at all. Appointments have in the past set off controversy, particularly from would-be candidates who frequently had spent months preparing to fight a contested nomination.

Dion’s campaign strategists contend that declaring certain ridings off-limits to men at the outset will ultimately be fairer to all concerned. Still, they acknowledge that the measure is bound to be controversial.

“We’re going to pay some price,” Kennedy said. “We’d like it to be a relatively small price . . . but the price we’re paying is because we didn’t quite make as much success as we should have (recruiting women in the past) and everyone has come to the realization that we have to take extraordinary measures, that the Liberal party has to become a political organization that reflects the face of Canada.”

In last winter’s election, only 26 per cent of Liberal candidates were women, although women make up slightly more than half the Canadian population. The challenge of reaching 33 per cent next time is all the greater because Dion has promised to protect all incumbent MPs from nomination challenges.

Chew on that for a while. That whole thing makes me feel sick. I can’t even put into words the level of dread that gives me. Sometimes it already feels like democracy is a fraud. Now people are trying to fix the system so the numbers fit some kind of quota.

I’d love for there to be more women in politics. But this isn’t the way to do it. It would make me sick and angry if a guy who I knew would fight for my interests was prevented altogether from even running and the only alternative was a woman who I knew didn’t care. And don’t you just love the element of panic in that article? Damn those commercials from the Conservative party. All I can think is, We didn’t get it done!

And here’s something I don’t get. They say they want the party to better reflect the face of Canada. Women make up over half of that face. But 33% of his members have to be women, and that’s the figure he’s sticking with? That doesn’t make any sense if he was truly trying to make the party match the face of Canada. What is the real motive?

Man I hate politics. And I hate the direction this is going.

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