National Council of Women of Canada - Blog

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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Female Candidates

With Nominations Now Closed, Incremental Rise in Female Candidates  

April 13, 2011

Ottawa: With nominations now closed, Equal Voice has confirmed that 407 women candidates, representing 31 percent of all candidates for Canada’s five major political parties, will be on the ballot for the May 2nd federal election.

This represents a slight two point increase from the 2008 federal election when 29 percent of major party candidates were women. 

The New Democratic Party is the clear leader with 125 female candidates, nearly 41 percent of all its candidates, which is the highest percentage fielded by a political party in Canada’s history.  The Bloc Quebecois has beat its own record by running 24 of 75 candidates, or 32 percent of its candidates, up four points from the last election. 

The Liberal Party has confirmed that 92 of its 308 candidates, or 30 percent, are women, though this is a considerably lower number than in the 2008 election when the party attained a historic high of 37 percent. 

The Conservative Party is fielding 22 percent women, up two points from the last election.  

Finally, the Green Party has 98 women candidates (32 percent) on their slate, nearly attaining their goal of one third.
“Equal Voice is pleased to see that there has been some overall improvement in the numbers of women running. We know that the vast majority of Canadians want the opportunity to vote for more women. This election will give some of them that chance,” said Donna Dasko, Equal Voice National Chair. 

In 2009, Equal Voice invited major party leaders to improve the numbers of women they would nominate in the next federal election.  All major party leaders agreed to Equal Voice’s Canada Challenge, though it is clear that the smaller parties have fared better, particularly the New Democratic Party. 

“They have set a new bar in Canada. Their success underscores the fact that when parties work hard to reach out to women as potential candidates, women will rise to the challenge.” 
Consistent with an earlier analysis by Equal Voice, however, fewer women are running in winnable ridings.   Only the Bloc Quebecois is filling more than one third (36 percent) of its winnable ridings with women candidates.  

The New Democratic Party is second with 31 percent women in winnable ridings.  Female candidates are on the ballot of 27 percent of the Liberal Party’s winnable ridings, while the Conservatives are running women in 20 percent of its most winnable seats.
“In order for Canada to rank significantly better than 52nd in the world in terms of women’s representation, parties need to re-visit their candidate search strategies, especially in winnable ridings,” added Nancy Peckford, Executive Director of Equal Voice.  

Tomorrow, Equal Voice plans to publish a complete list of female candidates on its website by riding, with links to their campaign websites.   

“While some voters may not have a woman on the ballot in their own ridings, it’s important that they know where those female candidates are and how they can potentially support one that represents their values,” added Peckford.

For more information: Nancy Peckford, Executive Director: 613-292-7941 or

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