I recently had an opportunity to go out to Vancouver with Douro Dummer resident and author Dr. Betsy McGregor. I’ve known Betsy for many years and during that time we’ve mounted a number of initiatives to encourage women to enter in to politics. For the past three years, Betsy has been working on a book “Women on the Ballot” which features the stories of 95 Canadian Women politicians. In addition to being one of the women in the book, I have been working closely with Betsy on the project, helping to coordinate and organize her research and youth teams. “Women on the Ballot” is now available (locally at Happenstance Books & Yarns in Lakefield and online).
As a result of that work, we were invited to facilitate a bootcamp for women who are looking to get in to politics. The participants ranged from recent graduates to current candidates and campaign managers as well as women who have run or are considering running. These talented women come from diverse backgrounds and have diverse political beliefs; it was a multi-partisan event.
Together, Betsy and I mounted an afternoon long session that included strategies for determining their reason for running, helping them to identify their networks, how to canvass and build a campaign team and what it looks like to get the vote out. In addition to Betsy and I co-presenting the event, we had some very special guests… all of whom are also featured in the book.
MLA and Former Speaker of the BC Legislature, Linda Reid
Linda Reid was elected MLA for Richmond South Centre in 2017. She has built her reputation in the BC Legislative Assembly on her professional background in education, management, and community service. The longest-serving MLA in the current parliament, Linda has been elected to represent Richmond seven consecutive times since 1991 and is the longest serving woman in B.C. history.
Green Party Leader, Hon. Elizabeth May
Elizabeth May is the leader of the Green Party of Canada and Member of Parliament representing the southern Vancouver Island riding of Saanich-Gulf Islands. She is one of Canada’s most respected environmentalists. As well, she practiced law and is also the author of eight books. Elizabeth became active in the environmental movement in the 1970s. She is a graduate of Dalhousie Law School and was admitted to the Bar in both Nova Scotia and Ontario.
Hon. Hedy Fry
The Honourable Dr. Hedy Fry was first elected to Parliament for Vancouver Centre in 1993, becoming the first rookie to defeat a sitting Prime Minister. Re-elected in 1997, 2000, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2011, and 2015, she is now the longest-serving female MP in Canadian history.
…. Then there was the fireside chat
In addition to teaching women how to get into politics, there was a fireside chat with women who are in the book including. Morgane Oger, human rights activist and candidate, Hon. Joyce Murray, President of the Treasury Board and Minister of Digital Government and MLA Janet Routledge, BC Government Caucus Whip.
Needless to say, it was pretty fantastic! While there we also met a Women 4 Politics event organizer and UBC representative about the possibility of working with students on campus in the future. Oh, and a quick drop in on a Town Hall meeting on Climate Change.
The women and discussions were all so empowering and inspiring. I met so many fantastic women, future leaders. We taught and learned from eachother and demonstrated that even though we all have completely different political views, we can find common ground and inspire and motivate each other to do better.
There will be additional book launch events, much closer to home, that I hope to have the time to attend. If you’re interested, visit the Women on the Ballot website.