Party leaders condemn sexism faced by women candidates in N.L. election

·2 min read

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. — A historic number of women are running in the Newfoundland and Labrador election, and party leaders are speaking out about the sexism and abuse some of them are facing on the campaign trail.

Liberal Leader and incumbent Premier Andrew Furey said Monday sexist and abusive behaviour toward candidates is "totally unacceptable."

Last week, Sarah Stoodley, Liberal incumbent for the Mount Scio district in St. John's, said she regularly receives disturbing emails from voters. She said she has lost about half a day so far in the campaign co-ordinating with police about the hateful correspondence.

"I think we need to do better," Furey told reporters on a campaign stop in Labrador. "The government needs to do better, society needs to do better."

NDP Leader Alison Coffin has said repeatedly that she's subject to sexist comments both online and within the provincial legislature. "It is grossly inappropriate, and I will not stand by it," she told reporters last week.

Progressive Conservative candidate Kristina Ennis has said she received condescending questions about her age while campaigning — questions she said she doesn't feel male candidates her age would face.

The Canadian Press asked Progressive Conservative Leader Ches Crosbie for comment, but he had flight delays on Monday and was not immediately available.

The deadline for candidate nominations closed Saturday: Of 127 candidates, 39 are women, two are non-binary and one is a transgender woman.

Party leaders kicked off the second week of the campaign Monday spread out across the province, greeting voters and announcing policy platforms.

Furey promised his government would build an online portal aimed at connecting the province's businesses and innovators with investors. And John Hogan, the Liberal candidate running against Crosbie in the Windsor Lake district, called on the Tory leader to apologize for his party's past support and sanctioning of the troubled Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project.

The project, whose costs have ballooned from $7.4 billion to $13.1 billion, was championed by Danny Williams's Progressive Conservative government and by Kathy Dunderdale, Williams's successor, in 2012.

The provincial election is Feb. 13.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 25, 2021.

Sarah Smellie, The Canadian Press