Rachel Notley proud of ‘historic’ number of women elected in Alberta

WATCH ABOVE: After Tuesday’s election, a record number of women now hold seats in the Alberta legislature. Kendra Slugoski takes a closer look.

History was made May 5, 2015, and not just with the NDP toppling the PCs’ 44-year reign in Alberta — which also means 63 per cent of Canadians now live in a province that will be governed by a female.

A record 27 women were elected to Alberta’s legislative assembly Tuesday night (28 if you count the Calgary-Glenmore riding where two women are tied); up from 2012’s 22 elected females. Of the 27, all but three came from the NDP.

“I haven’t ran the numbers yet, shall I say,” Alberta’s premier-elect, Rachel Notley, said in her victory speech — a possible call-back to her predecessor’s “math is difficult” jab. She was interrupted by more than half a minute of boisterous cheers from a jubilant crowd before she could continue.

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“But what I think is true is that we have elected the most women in any government caucus in the history of Canada…So that’s kind of cool.”

WATCH: Rachel Notley’s full 2015 Albeta election victory speech

The NDP leader echoed that statement Wednesday morning, saying she’s proud that almost half her caucus is made up of women.

“To me, that’s historic.”

Last month, Notley admitted that getting female nominees was a priority for her, even though it took “a bit more work.”

WATCH: How many candidates on the ballots were men? Alberta’s provincial affairs reporter, Tom Vernon, broke down the numbers last month.

Advocates for female equality are thrilled it paid off, but don’t plan to rest on their laurels.

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“Women are 50 per cent of the population, I think slightly more even than 50 per cent,” said Susanne Luhmann, the interim chair of the University of Alberta’s Women and Gender Studies department.

“In an ideal world, we should have 50 per cent of women and men in all aspects of public and private life.”

Thirty-one per cent of Alberta’s new elected officials are now female (up from 26 per cent), according to Equal Voices, an organization dedicated to putting more women on the ballot in Canada. It hopes seeing the success of women in this election will embolden others to follow in their footsteps, but believes the onus needs to be on political leaders to encourage that.

Alberta has done “reasonably well” in this department compared to other provinces, according to Stephanie Kusie, the chair of the Equal Voices Alberta South chapter. She said Ontario, B.C., and the Yukon are still a bit ahead of the province when it comes to female representation in the legislature. Newfoundland is among the provinces that has the most catching up to do.

WATCH: Premier-elect Rachel Notley said she is very proud of the diversity in her caucus that will represent Alberta. 

Despite Alberta’s new historic standing, there’s no denying that more still needs to be done to achieve true equality.

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“We cannot just focus on women, but we need to focus on [indigenous people] we need to focus on other [minorities] like lesbians and gays, transgender people,” Luhmann stressed.

“I think we really need to talk about politics as a place that’s supposed to be representative of the people who live in this province.

“I think there’s some hope that this government will pay closer attention to that.”


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