“I felt a particular sense of triumph, as a woman, when as Conservative Minister of Energy Mines and Resources, I negotiated the Atlantic Accord with Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Brian Peckford, which enabled the development of the offshore oil and gas resources which are on stream. Former Liberal Energy Minister Jean Chretien, later Prime Minister, failed this task. His former deputy minister Mickey Cohen sent me four dozen red roses when I succeeded where they had failed. Very sexist but much appreciated.”
Senator Pat Carney, first woman elected as a Conservative Member of Parliament from B.C., first woman appointed Minister of International Trade, Minister of Energy and President of the Treasury Board of Canada.
“As a woman, the moment in my political life when I felt a sense of triumph was the night I was elected in the late spring of 1999, after having previously run for office and lost in the general election of 1995. As an elected female representative, my greatest accomplishment would have to be the passage of one of my bills in the legislature that will affect the citizens of this province for many years to come.
When I was an MPP in opposition, I introduced numerous bills, but unfortunately none of them were ever passed. When the Liberals formed government after the 2003 election, and I was appointed Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, I was fortunate to have the honour and opportunity to introduce the first piece of legislation during the fall sitting of the legislature. I introduced the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005, which received Royal Assent this past June.
This was the first bill that I ever had passed, and will probably be the bill that most affects positive change, long after I’ve retired from office. The Accessibility Act is legislation that is about empowerment and inclusion. The Bill allows for a fully accessible society in Ontario by the year 2020, so that every Ontarian will have the opportunity to participate to their fullest potential.
It truly was landmark legislation, because it allows all Ontarians to reach for their dreams. By allowing improved access to workplaces and public spaces, employment, customer service, communications and transportation, this bill affects not only the lives of persons with disabilities, but all Ontarians. I am truly honoured to have been so lucky to be a part of that bill, and so proud that it was passed, and proud of the change that it will generate. I will never forget the day the bill passed, standing in the legislature with tears in my eyes, watching the groups who had waited so long for a bill like this who had travelled from as far as Thunder Bay to watch the historic moment in the legislature. It truly was and will be my greatest achievement as a politician.”
Marie Bountrogianni, MPP Hamilton Mountain Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Minister Responsible for Democratic Renewal, Government of Ontario
“I have had many great moments in my political career but I would have to say that there were three which stood out – winning my nomination. It was a tough and nasty fight against four other guys. I had never run for anything in my life. I had given the best speech I had ever given in my life and it helped swing the votes my way. The second time was election night in 1999, my second victory. It was sweeter than winning in 1995 because it proved the first time wasn't a fluke. The third event was my first budget in 2002. I had just been put in the portfolio two months before so it was major accomplishment to do it and do it as well as it went. We went up about five per cent in the polls after that budget, the only thing that did in our last year and a half in power! I was also the first woman to deliver a budget in Ontario and the second finance minister from my hometown of Exeter.
One of the reasons I ran was to make a difference and I was able to do so. I completely reformed the child welfare system, everything from new legislation and training standards to a new funding model and increased revenue. It was much needed reform that worked well. I established a new employment and income support system for people with disabilities so they did not have to depend on welfare - and that one passed with support from all parties in the House! I also created a new early reading and literacy program in schools, established tough new rules to protect students from sexual abuse, established a new professional development and performance appraisal system for teachers and established new tax support for families caring for disabled children. I can't think of many jobs where you can have as much of an impact as you can in politics.”
Janet Ecker, former Minister of Finance, Government House Leader and Chair of the Board of Internal Economy of the Ontario PC government
“The moment in my political life when I felt a particular sense of triumph was being elected Warden of the County, the second woman Warden in more than 150 years. As an elected female representative, I have been able to push decision-making on a number of important issues that had been sitting for five to 10 years, as colleagues had not wanted to make decisions on them, e.g. 911, bypass planning, industrial expansion. I’ve also instituted policies on tightening Councillor spending and initiated county-wide awards of excellence.”
Susan Freeman, Warden of Lanark County in Eastern Ontario
“The first moment I felt a particular sense of triumph, as a woman, was when I was first elected as an MPP, having defeated a ten-year incumbent (male) who was considered unbeatable. I had chosen to run in my home riding, which was considered unwinnable, even though the neighbouring riding was open – and this was seen to have been a 'typical woman’s decision'. It felt good to pull it off, particularly since the member I defeated had gained some infamy by telling Sheila Copps to 'go back to the kitchen'. The second moment was when I won the leadership of the Ontario Liberal Party, becoming the first woman in Ontario to be elected as party leader.
As for an unforgettable incident involving a constituent, I think of a single mother with a fifteen-year-old son crippled by Cerebral Palsy. The Mom needed $15,000 to make a renovation to her home so she could get her son’s wheelchair into the house and into the bathroom, as she could no longer lift him. The program funds had been expended and she was repeatedly denied: the alternative would be institutional care, at considerably greater cost to the public – and heartbreak for both mother and child. It took persistent lobbying and raising this issue in the legislature to finally get this small amount of funding – an example of both the frustrations of political office and the satisfaction to be found, ultimately, in small achievements."
Lyn McLeod, MPP for Thunder Bay-Atikokan for 15 years (1987 to 2003), Minister of Colleges and Universities, Minister of Energy and Minister of Natural Resources, and leader of the Ontario Liberal Party for four years (1992-1996)