Former PM proposes dual-member ridings to gain gender parity in Ottawa

Teresa Wright
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

Women who hold or held office at every level of Canadian politics were represented at the head table Wednesday of the Bold Vision conference. Attending are, from left, Valerie Docherty, provincial minister of community services and seniors; former prime minister Kim Campbell; Irene Dawson, long-serving councillor for the Town of Cornwall; and former P.E.I. premier and retired senator Catherine Callbeck. Campbell was the first woman to hold the office of Prime Minister and Callbeck was the first woman premier of P.E.I. The meeting of 23 invited visionary women from across Canada is underway at the Brudenell Resort.

Kim Campbell tells A Bold Vision women’s leadership conference electing a woman and man in each riding would make powerful statement

GEORGETOWN ROYALTY — Former prime minister Kim Campbell says Canada needs more women in Parliament, so she proposes federal ridings should be split to include one woman and one man elected in each riding.

Campbell is in Prince Edward Island this week for the women’s leadership conference, A Bold Vision.

In her keynote address Wednesday evening entitled Time to Colour Outside the Lines, Campbell said dual-member ridings would be the simplest way to shift the country’s electoral system to gain true gender parity in Ottawa.

“I think we need something that we can actually implement and I think the process would make a powerful statement that Canada really believes what it says when, in its Constitution, it is enshrined prohibition of discrimination based on sex,” Campbell said.

“I think it would be a beacon to other countries.”

She added her belief that such a move could also help to change the combative tone that often dominates debate among MPs on Parliament Hill.

Campbell, who remains the only woman to ever hold the office of prime minister in Canada, also pointed to corporate boards as a place where the number of women in leadership and management roles is not reflective of the population.

In 2012, women held just 14.5 per cent of board director positions among Canada’s Financial Post 500 companies. More than 40 per cent of these companies had no women directors at all.

Without parity, some research now shows this diminishes the performance of those corporations, Campbell said.

But she stressed her concern that the greatest gaps exist in political leadership.

That’s why she included her push for dual-member male/female ridings to be adopted in Canada as part of her submission in the A Bold Vision book, to be launched in Charlottetown later this week.

The conference and the accompanying book are meant to act as a contrast to the historic meeting of the Fathers of Confederation in Charlottetown in 1864, when women were not yet even considered persons under the law.

Campbell says she believes a dramatic change to include more women in government is not only necessary, but would likely include a host of yet unforeseen rewards.

“I think it’s important for us to understand that in our bold vision and in being assertive, we are not just serving the interests of women, we are serving the interests of our whole society,” Campbell said.

“Now is the time for us, as women, that we’ve now come to a certain level to take that step, demand those changes. And I believe what I’m proposing for gender parity in our legislative bodies is the closest possible to how we’ve developed our legislative bodies, the least difficult to implement but the one that would be most powerfully effective.”

Dianne Porter of the P.E.I. Coalition for Women in Government said she believes Campbell’s idea is not only a good one, but one that is attainable.

She pointed to the fact P.E.I. had dual-member ridings from 1883 right up until 1996.

“P.E.I.’s experience proves that Ms. Campbell’s ideas are possible, they’re important and it’s a realistic dream,” Porter said.


Organizations: P.E.I. Coalition for Women

Geographic location: Canada, Ottawa, Prince Edward Island Charlottetown

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page



Recent comments

  • Ingrid Style
    September 26, 2014 - 19:27

    It is a bold idea of the sort we need right now. Given the problems across the globe isn't it time to ask the other half of the human race for their imput? ''If what you are doing isn't working, try something else!''

  • augusta
    September 26, 2014 - 17:00

    @diane why should people not be cynical, - this is a total waste of money, - as most of the 2014 foolishness. however, this is supposed to be taken serious, carting women to PEI as if they were wise. The organizers are taxpayer paid employees or 'consultants' , making their living at finding something to complain about, so they can keep the income coming. The organization Women in Politics , the Advisory Council on the Status of Women and other tax-sucking agencies like them, would serve us better if they were gone,

    • Diane
      September 27, 2014 - 09:23

      So, Augusta, you don't feel its worthwhile for organizations to speak up about poverty, violence, mental health and addictions ,etc.? If they were gone we sure could not count on your voice !

    • Diane
      September 27, 2014 - 09:24

      So, Augusta, you don't feel its worthwhile for organizations to speak up about poverty, violence, mental health and addictions ,etc.? If they were gone we sure could not count on your voice !

  • Diane
    September 25, 2014 - 22:48

    Perhaps its time to change "Gentle Island" to "Cynical Island" . It is so discouraging to read the negative,cynical and outright nasty comments . How about some credit to those organizing and those attending "Bold Vision". Some of the comments are same old same old! Do your homework before you speak about what you do not know. All of the organizers/ volunteers work day in and day out seeking change for Islanders ,ie. issues of poverty, violence, mental health and addictions ,etc. Kudos to those you dare to be Bold and those who forge ahead and strive for change! Thank god you dare to care .

  • Citizen
    September 25, 2014 - 18:08

    So this ideal will open our MP positions to more , husband and wife teams? Ridiculous ideal from the woman who held the position of Prime Minister of Canada for the shortest period. Damn good thing she wasn't there any longer than she was.

  • sasha
    September 25, 2014 - 17:12

    Maybe simply getting rid of all male MPs by the time they are even in numbers with women MPs would be nice compromise. Joking aside, party capable of running the same number of male and female candidates would be party deserving a vote.

  • wanda
    September 25, 2014 - 15:45

    Bold vision, my foot, - a taxpayer funded gab fest for ' has beens' , - we should consider it all pure entertainment, as more goofy ideas will come forth, and imagine these have been put into a book, (how many trees lost their lives on this)----- as a society we are nuts to allow this kind of waste of money, - but hey, it keeps a handful of organizers and various squawkers in bread - the airlines and hospitality sector fed. ---- What about the environment??? Were youse guy not even thinking of the green house gas you created getting here???????

  • claudette
    September 25, 2014 - 15:36

    Maybe we should make special seats in Parliament fro people with goofy ideas---------------

  • david
    September 25, 2014 - 13:45

    Docherty and Dawson are the 2 more impressive women in that photo at least both of them have been re-elected. Callbeck and Campbell have never been re-elected after serving on term. Goes to show the kind of politician anyone is if they can never get re-elected.

  • Bogglesthemind
    September 25, 2014 - 11:57

    Is she out of her mind? Twice as many MPs than we have now? Has she thought about the expense? NO. She's rich, so such things do not enter her mind. And what if the dual members disagree on something? It's the most stupid idea I've heard in a long time. Women should be elected on their own merit, not because they're women. And I'm a woman!

      September 25, 2014 - 17:15

      And you wonder why she was a total flop? To do what she and her ungodly crew at that table are recommending, would mean that PEI would have 54 MLA's for 140,000 people instead of the bloated and obscene 27. Using the same logic, we should also give first nations the same rights as women and that would mean another 27 on PEI. Why stop there, don't we have a large Asian population on the Island, don't they deserve the same rights? Think of all the other endless possibilities. For Valerie and Irene, both currently elected, to sit up there with the other two makes me cringe. In the next elections, let Irene and Valerie run on that platform and see where that gets them.

    • Jerry
      September 25, 2014 - 17:19

      No, the same number of MP's (306) but representing 153 ridings. PEI would have 2 ridings instead of 4 but the same number of MPs. I like the idea.

      September 25, 2014 - 21:30

      Jerry...That would work for PEI Federal politics but how would it work provincially?But think about the provinces like Ont., Que. and Alta. Do you think these provinces would agree to having their ridings cut in half? I can't see that working there, in Ont for instance where there are 13 Million people.Most of those ridings have more people in them than in total on PEI.

    September 25, 2014 - 11:31

    Most people are trying to think of a way to have less bodies in Ottawa not more ! Her next idea will be ...Let them eat cake if there is no bread .Good luck getting on the board of corporations , our government bows down to their every whim including taxes or lack of that is . It must be nice to dream !

  • 2 cents worth
    September 25, 2014 - 11:22

    Not attending the conference but I would hope that this collection of 'bold women' can come up with some suggestions/plans/strategies to make it easier for young mothers to stay home longer with their babies. Daycares are overflowing or have long waiting lists. Our young are being raised by strangers.

  • Bob
    September 25, 2014 - 11:20

    Come on Conservatives, bring it on so the Supreme Court can rule another of your ridiculous laws as a violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Section 15, anyone?)

  • Den
    September 25, 2014 - 10:38

    Why Kim Campbell gets any respect is beyond me. Her and Callbeck look like they should be in Galactic Empire officer uniforms supervising the latest Death Star construction. Of course there won't be any firearms on this new Death Star because crime will disappear forever due to this ingenious move on Campbell's part.

  • reality
    September 25, 2014 - 10:27

    what a terrible thing to wish upon someone --that they might be a politician -- ----that would "gag a maggot"

  • don morris
    September 25, 2014 - 10:25

    Kim Campbell is another of the many former PM's who should stay retired,and out of the public eye. Her anti-gun message demonized every honest hunter and farmer in Canada,just so she could make political hay. That she singlehandedly destroyed the Progressive Conservatives is the only good to come out of her short period at the helm. Go away Kim.

  • so sad
    September 25, 2014 - 09:42

    And look how good a job our women mla's are doing on P.E.I. Get rid of the ones we have.

  • mad as hell
    September 25, 2014 - 09:41

    Kim Campbell - the lady that got the ball rolling to punish more than 2 million law-abiding Canadians as a knee-jerk reaction to the heinous crimes of one man. And got voted out for it. Why are giving her any credence or air time?

  • Anne Peterson
    September 25, 2014 - 09:40

    An expensive proposition indeed. I would agree, though, to better child care in parliament and more money for spouses and children to spend time there. A study of the Nordic countries and how they manage to implement gender equality in their parliaments could be indicated. It's time my beautiful, smart granddaughter had a chance.

  • Greg Vezina
    September 25, 2014 - 09:31

    The two biggest barriers to women in politics are Money and the First Past the Post electoral system, two things the Federal Conservatives will not change. Ontario PC Premier Mike Harris made tax credits for political contributions 'refundable' because he said otherwise the laws favoured wealthy males over women, minorities, the disabled and poor. More women are elected in countries with PR, especially Mixed Member Proportional Representation than those with any other system, and two MP are elected from each riding. These things would do more to help women in politics than all the quotas Kim Campbell can dream of.

  • Democrat
    September 25, 2014 - 08:05

    Nono let's have a tripple member riding: one woman, one man and one transgendered person. Or one minority...what a stupid idea!

  • Fair
    September 25, 2014 - 08:00

    Higher percentage of female candidates get elected. If more women want these jobs they have to do the work, like those who are getting elected, and put their name on the ballot. It is not discrimination, can't get elected if you don't run.

    September 25, 2014 - 07:55

    Just look at some of the recent women in politics, not just in politics but the leaders. Pauline Marois,Linda Dunderdale, Allison Redford and Christie Clark, all Premiers. Do you think any of them are any better than men? Then you have Kim Campbell, an unelected PM who couldn't even win her own seat in an election and left the party with only 2 elected members,Jean Charest and Elsie Wayne. She s hardly the right one to espouse the virtues of having women run for office. She wants them to come in thru the back door, just as she did.If you want to be treated as equal, you must compete on a level playing field. If you want to run with the big dogs, then you better be a real mean bi@@h, or else you will be treated like any other pole.

  • nitpicker
    September 25, 2014 - 07:49

    bad idea. The solution is to work to remove any barriers that may exist to people running for politics. Then let democracy prevail. May the best candidate(s) win.

  • Bily
    September 25, 2014 - 07:44

    More politicians? Let's pass out crack to school children while we're at it.

  • Cecil Weeks
    September 25, 2014 - 07:42

    Yes it's no wonder you were the shortest running PM we had. Why not double up the number of politicians at all levels, just like we need a swift kick in the ass. This would really be a major strain on the tax payers and just who would benefit from all this, certainly not the real working class that supports you and others at the hog trough. We are way over staffed at all levels now and with your hugh pensions you receive working a few days a year and a very short term in a number of years you receive a very hugh pension while the rest of the working class work all their lives and receive a very meager pension poverty for some, yes we need more of people like you just like we need a hole in the head. That's the way I see it.

  • Bruce
    September 25, 2014 - 07:33

    No need to double the number of politicians, just divide the number of ridings by two first.

  • w
    September 25, 2014 - 07:06

    Great idea...let's spend time and energy to create another "equal" rights campaign. Passing a law to include women? Ridiculous...if you are any good, you will be included....if not, whatever. People are getting tired of "I can do anything a man can do!!" If this is true, why do you need laws to do it for you? Just sayin'

  • John
    September 25, 2014 - 06:14

    No wonder Campbell only lasted a year as prime minister. So pei would have 8 mps instead of 4 doing nothing in Ottawa and how does she plan on paying for this ? If a women runs in a riding and the people want her to represent that riding they will vote her in The people of canada are smart enough to do that womem or men

  • reality
    September 25, 2014 - 06:06

    i am quite disappointed with women in politics - they seem to be just as useless and self absorbed as the men in politics ---i

  • Spike
    September 25, 2014 - 05:57

    Ah yes. Let's double the amount of politicians we have because there are not enough of them at the trough now.