Municipal governments represent the order of government that is the closest to the people. They are widely perceived as the best entry level for women interested in becoming elected representative because there is no need to leave your neighbourhood to become involved.
They also have by far the largest number of elected officials of all levels of government.
As mentioned above, municipal government experience is often the stepping-stone for entering other levels of government, as 25 per cent of the members of the House of Commons in 2004 started there.
Once elected as a councillor, a reeve, a mayor or a warden, you can have tremendous influence on the life of your community. Here are but a few examples:
- Susan Freeman, Deputy Reeve of Tay Valley Township, Councillor
of Sherbrooke Ward and Warden of Lanark County in Eastern
Ontario: “It was a tremendous feeling of triumph to be elected
Warden of the County, the second woman Warden in over 150
years. Why I decided to run was that my local Council was
in a mess. Since I have been elected, I have been pushing
decision-making on a number of important issues that had been
sitting for 5 to ten years e.g. 911, bypass planning, industrial
expansion. I’ve also instituted policies on tightening Councillor
spending and initiated County-wide awards of excellence. Women can accomplish anything they choose at the local level. ”
- Pam McConnell, Councillor for Ward 28, Toronto Centre-Rosedale, has worked hard to assist vulnerable and disadvantaged people, in particular children, over her 21 years in public life. She has also used her role as a member of the Toronto Police Services Board to improve women’s rights: “I have advanced the equality rights of women and
have moved various motions regarding the hiring of women police
officers, motions on establishing an accountable and civilian police complaints process, motions on the elimination of racial profiling, motions on an open and accountable budget submission, and many more.”
And here are a few well-known Canadians who began their impressive political career in local government:
- The Right Honourable Kim Campbell, Canada’s only
female Prime Minister
- Sharon Carstairs, the first woman to lead the Official
Opposition in a Canadian Legislative Assembly