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Thoughts from Role Models

… on the right time to run:


Who knows [when it’s the right time for women to run]? For me it was in my 50s. I had the freedom and financial support, my husband is supportive, and I have no other family commitments.[Earlier] it’s tough. You need a very supportive family and extended family or independent financial means for babysitters and the emotional capacity to accept not having the chance to put your children to bed for years.

Susan Freeman, second woman in over 150 years to serve as Warden of Lanark County in Eastern Ontario.


It takes a supportive family, it takes real friends, it takes some security with which to blanket the stress and absorb the shocks. During my political life, I didn’t have a spouse and I had two children. I have no hesitation in saying that I could not have had the political career that I have had if my sister had not taken herself out of her career to devote time to assisting me in the raising of my children.

Hon. Iona Campagnolo, PC, CM’ OBC, in 1988 at a conference on Women and Politics organized by the Committee of 94 and the continuing Education Division of Ryerson Polytechnical Institute.

I did not run for provincial office until my last two children were in high school and were prepared to accept greater responsibility at home. It worked, but I found the separation difficult. We built in as much family time as possible, building some special events around the reality of my having to be away (e.g. trips to Toronto for musical theatre). My husband and I made a commitment not to spend weekends apart, but even when I was home, his commitment meant accompanying me to a host of events. A supportive home base, however it is worked out, was essential for me, and, even then, I would not have taken on the provincial role when my children were younger. I actually think that, as men become more involved in sharing family responsibilities, men, too, will be postponing decisions to enter politics.

Lyn McLeod, first woman to be elected as party leader in Ontario, MPP. for Thunder Bay-Atikokan for 15 years (1987 to 2003), Minister of Colleges and Universities, Minister of Energy, Minister of Natural Resources, and leader of the Ontario Liberal Party for four years (1992-1996).

Provincial politics worked for me as I lived in Winnipeg, chose a constituency where I lived and which was 15 minutes from the Legislature, and my children were young. By 1994, when I moved to the federal scene, the girls had graduated from university and my husband had taken early retirement and was prepared to move to Ottawa.

Senator Sharon Carstairs, the first woman to lead the Official Opposition in a Canadian Legislative Assembly (Manitoba, 1988)


… on running against another woman:


Yes!

Susan Freeman, second woman in over 150 years to serve as Warden of Lanark County in Eastern Ontario.


Of course a woman should run against another woman – men do it all the time! However, in my view, it is easier to beat a man. There is cynicism about politicians, but less toward female politicians.

Senator Sharon Carstairs, the first woman to lead the Official Opposition in a Canadian Legislative Assembly (Manitoba, 1988)

In my own personal political life, I have avoided it on several occasions, because I think there are too few women in the system and I hate to see another woman knocked off. I have always used my own rule – give the other woman a break, if you can. I think there is going to be a great deal more emphasis placed on running woman against woman, and I suppose we’re going to have to go along with it, because at least that way we’ll get some women into office.

Hon. Iona Campagnolo, PC, CM’ OBC,in 1988 at a conference on Women and Politics organized by the Committee of 94 and the Continuing Education Division of Ryerson Polytechnical Institute.

Riding Associations will (almost) always be encouraging the strongest possible field of candidates. If a woman won’t run against another woman, we will keep losing contested nominations because a single female candidate may not emerge as the best of a strong field.”

Lyn McLeod,first woman to be elected as party leader in Ontario, MPP for Thunder Bay-Atikokan for 15 years (1987 to 2003), Minister of Colleges and Universities, Minister of Energy, Minister of Natural Resources, and leader of the Ontario Liberal Party for four years (1992-1996)

… on accepting to run in an “unwinnable“ riding:


Being a sacrificial lamb is difficult, especially knowing that men are treated differently in theses circumstances.

Susan Freeman, second woman in over 150 years to serve as Warden of Lanark County in Eastern Ontario.


My answer to this question is biased because I ran successfully in what was considered an ‘unwinnable’ riding. Women should contest nominations in any and every riding where interested women are found.

Lyn McLeod,first woman to be elected as party leader in Ontario, MPP for Thunder Bay-Atikokan for 15 years (1987 to 2003), Minister of Colleges and Universities, Minister of Energy, Minister of Natural Resources, and leader of the Ontario Liberal Party for four years (1992-1996)

… on party loyalty:


I am concerned that when women do attain power, they are pressured not to advocate issues of concern to women, because those women I just mentioned women on welfare, raising children, children raised below the poverty line, need more political advocates, and they need more women advocates. The pressure on you not to talk about the issues that concern you are very great. So when women who have fought to enhance other women do achieve their goals, I believe all of us are called upon to doubly support them, because pressure on them not to speak, not to act, is enormous, and growing stronger.

Hon. Iona Campagnolo, PC, CM’ OBC,in 1988 at a conference on Women and Politics organized by the Committee of 94 and the Continuing Education Division of Ryerson Polytechnical Institute.

… on losing:


I'm fairly certain there will be a 'next time', but I will be better prepared, on what to expect, what I need to do (and not do) and how to go about winning. I have experience now in areas that were formerly “outside my comfort zone”.  I have pushed those boundaries and realize that I really like the personal contact (door-to-door canvassing) with members of my community.

Darla Campbell, President of the Canadian Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Clubs, speaking at a CFUW Ontario Council – Status of Women Session, in Toronto, September 18, 2004.



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