When one questions where are the women in Canadian politics, there are numerous responses that arise, some of which include democratic deficits, absence of balance, equity and fairness and others suggest that women just don’t cut it in the political world. The interesting aspect regarding the aforementioned cases is that they are all, in a general sense, relatively true. Women suffrage has incrementally diminished over the past fifty years, however, the struggle persists and studies show that women participation in Canadian politics is on the decline1.
This essay examines the core issue at the heart of these alarming statistics. It is argued here that women, and more socially minded individuals, are unable to advance in the Canadian political sphere due to the inherent aggressive nature of politics. A fundamental shift in political approaches is essential to promote an increase in the number of women in Canadian politics.
This essay will firstly examine Liberalism, Conservatism and Socialism by applying Canadian political parties, the Liberals, the Conservative Party of Canada, and the New Democratic Party, to demonstrate the nature of their political party platforms and the values, albeit docile and social or aggressive and individualistic, that are associated with them. Secondly, various statistics will be provided to demonstrate that women today are significantly more left wing and socially minded than are men.
The Canadian political sphere will then be examined to reveal its inherent aggressive nature and the paradox that results when attempting to promote equality for women and docile-natured individuals into politics. Finally, a number of suggestions are made to advocate for the implementation of change, starting at the grassroots level. Political ideologies are at the core of every political party. They disclose the party’s values and reveal the type of people that support them.
The three following Canadian political parties will be used to reveal the nature of political ideology: The Liberals, The Conservative Party of Canada and the New Democratic Party. The Liberal party of Canada has dominated the fourth party system2. It is clear that Liberal values have permeated most lengths of Canadian public ideology. The Liberal ideology stands for the freedom of the individual to pursue happiness and well being at whatever costs necessary, which is also known as individualism.
These ideas emerged from the revolutionary and Enlightenment periods, where uprisings against authoritarian religious states were evolving. John Locke and John Stuart Mill were two prominent thinkers that originally legitimized these notions prior to their widespread appeal and success. It did not take long, however, for these values to flourish, especially among individuals of societies emerging from an era of distinct oppression. Liberalism today is located at the centre left and centre right of the ideological spectrum.
Welfare Liberals lean more to the left with their support for individualism with an element of enhanced equality of opportunity among citizens. Business Liberals lean more to the right, purporting individualism while being comfortable with inequality among citizens, which they claim is natural and an organic effect of free market activities. The Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) has its roots deeply imbedded in Canadian political history. They dominated 80 % of the first party system from 1867 to 19213.
The conservative ideology was a response to the surfacing Liberalism in the post revolutionary periods of the 1700’s. Religious absolutism was dieing and the conservatives were fighting to preserve their way of life. Conservatives have since undergone numerous transitions and today in Canada, they can be generally classified into two variants, both located on the right wing of the political spectrum. The first variant, which is located closer to the middle, is known as progressive, or are sometimes referred to as Red Tories.
These conservatives believe in inequality of the person, due to the simple fact that some people are smarter and some people work harder than others, but support the idea that society is an organic whole, and should thereby be run by collectivist values (i. e. considering the values of the whole community over the values of the individual person) and a focus on a powerful centralized government. On the other hand, the more extreme right wing conservative parties in Canada, formerly known as Canadian Alliance, believe in inequality as well as individualism of the person.