More women than ever running in this election

·5 min read
NDP candidate Ruth Ellen Brosseau stands in front of NDP leader Jagmeet Singh introduces candidate during a news conference in Yamachiche, Que., on Sunday. The NDP are on track to have 50 per cent female candidates in the Sept. 20 federal election. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press - image credit)
NDP candidate Ruth Ellen Brosseau stands in front of NDP leader Jagmeet Singh introduces candidate during a news conference in Yamachiche, Que., on Sunday. The NDP are on track to have 50 per cent female candidates in the Sept. 20 federal election. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press - image credit)

All of the main federal parties have filed paperwork with Elections Canada detailing who will be running for them in the coming election, closing the door on any further changes to the candidate list before Canadians cast their ballots on Sept. 20.

All the major parties will be running a nearly full slate of 338 candidates, with the Liberals and the NDP telling CBC News that they have filed papers with Elections Canada for a full slate.

The Liberals say their list of candidates this year includes "health professionals, teachers, Indigenous leaders, LGBTQ2 advocates, entrepreneurs, scientists, Olympians and Paralympians, experienced parliamentarians," and others.

The Conservatives have also filed papers for 338 candidates but had to withdraw one name from the list just before the Monday 2 p.m. deadline. Troy Myers stepped down as the Conservative candidate for the Nova Scotia riding of Dartmouth–Cole Harbour after sexual misconduct allegations against him surfaced.

The party confirmed to CBC News that while it had withdrawn Myers' name in time, it did not provide Elections Canada with another candidate and will not be running anyone in the riding this election cycle.

Now that the deadline for submitting candidates has passed, Elections Canada must work to verify that the supporting documents are valid and the nomination signatures have been verified — a process officials say should be completed by Wednesday afternoon.

While the other national parties were able to provide CBC News with numbers, the Green Party was unable to do so by Monday evening. The People's Party of Canada, however, said it would be running about 330 candidates, slightly more than the 315 it ran in 2019.

"As a small party, this was a huge logistical challenge, but we managed to surpass our total of 315 candidates in the 2019 election. We're thrilled to be able to offer Canadian voters an option other than the establishment parties in almost every riding this time," PPC spokesman Martin Masse said.

More women and gender diversity than ever

According to Equal Voice, which tracks the gender diversity of candidates, the 2021 election marks a continued increase in the number of non-male candidates since the 2015 federal election.

Overall, Equal Voice says 44 per cent of all candidates nominated so far are women or gender-diverse, which compares similarly to the 2019 election, when it was 42 per cent.

The group says that it has gathered the full list of candidates for the Liberals and the Conservatives — and says both parties are continuing to show improvement.

The Liberals' candidates nominated so far are 43 per cent women and gender-diverse this time out, compared with 39 per cent in 2019, and 31 per cent in 2015. The Conservative candidates are 33 per cent women and gender-diverse, compared with 32 per cent in 2019 and just 20 per cent in 2015.

"From the beginning, Erin O'Toole has been clear that no matter your gender, background, orientation, colour, or religion, you are welcome and at home with Canada's Conservatives," said Chelsea Tucker, director of media relations for the Conservatives.

Even though they are not a huge leap from 2019, to see that little improvement that we've seen across the board with all of the parties, we're pretty happy with that. - Eleanor Fast, Equal Voice, executive director

Equal Voice says the Bloc Québécois, which is running a full slate of 78 candidates in Quebec, will beat both the Conservatives and the Liberals with 47 per cent of its candidates being women or gender diverse compared with 45 per cent in 2019. The group did not track the People's Party of Canada.

Eleanor Fast, Equal Voice's executive director, told CBC News that while they are still compiling their candidate lists for the Greens and the NDP, both parties are on track to have at least 50 per cent of their candidates female or gender-diverse, based on who has been nominated so far.

The NDP says that it worked with equity groups to identify candidates from a number of diverse backgrounds, including those from the sexual orientation, gender identity and expression (SOGIE) communities.

"I'm proud that over a half of our team are women and more than a third of our candidates are Black, Indigenous, or people of colour," NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said in a statement. "We also have more people running for us who are living with a disability or are from the SOGIE community than we have ever had on our team."

Candidates nominated vs. candidates elected

Fast says that while Equal Voice would like to see complete gender parity across the political parties, her group is happy the curve is continuing to trend upward in what are trying times to get women to enter politics.

"The COVID pandemic has had an enormous and disproportionate impact on women, and we were very worried before the election that that would potentially have an effect on the number of women candidates," Fast told CBC News.

"To see these numbers, even though they are not a huge leap from 2019, to see that little improvement that we've seen across the board with all of the parties, we're pretty happy with that."

While progress continues, Fast says that what really matters is closing the gap between the number of women parties nominate and the number that actually win on election night. She says that in 2019 while 42 per cent of candidates were women, only 29 per cent of MPs elected were women.

"We're really hoping not to see that trend again, and that this 44 per cent of all candidates being women gets translated into a much higher percentage of women and gender diverse people being elected on election night," Fast said.

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