September 30, 2016 5:25 pm
Updated: September 30, 2016 6:00 pm

Quotas only way to get 50% women in politics, says Montreal writer

WATCH ABOVE: Montreal writer Pascale Navarro argues the only way the U.S., Canada, or Quebec will ever achieve gender parity in politics is if governments instill a quota system. Global's Raquel Fletcher reports.

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U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has spent a lot of time speaking about women’s issues while on the campaign trail. If she wins, her presidency will be historic, but it’s no guarantee we’ll see more women in politics.

“You have to change structures, political structures, or you have to make a law,” said writer and journalist, Pascale Navarro.


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In her latest book, Women and Power: The Case for Parity, Navarro argues the only way Quebec, Canada and the United States will ever achieve gender parity in politics is with quotas. According to her, it can no longer be left up to politicians or parties to advance the cause for women.

“They all have very good words and they make it very popular when it’s time to get elected, but then when it’s time to act, they don’t do it,” she said.

The status of women minister gave a speech Friday in Quebec City on gender parity, but refused a request for an interview. Her press secretary told Global News she’s against the idea of quotas.

Minister Lise Thériault did earmark a small amount of money — $80,000 a year — to help get more women elected at the municipal level.

One mayor who also doesn’t agree with quotas, said it’s political culture that needs to change.

“If they’re criticized or attacked for the decisions they make, I think it convinces them it’s not worth the trouble to get involved and I think women are very sensitive to that,” said Scott Pearce, Township of Gore mayor.

“I think there should be a certain decorum involved.”

The leader of the federal NDP doesn’t share Pearce or Theriault’s view. Tom Mulcair said it’s not just politics that could benefit from a quota system to achieve gender equality.

“When we know that our law faculties have been churning out a majority of women for decades, why is it the big law firms are exclusively run by men?” said Mulcair.

Mulcair said other countries, as well as large companies, have obtained the most success on bringing women on board when they’ve mandated they need at least 40 per cent.

“There are areas where you can impose a quota and everyone is going to understand it’s simply to get things moving in the right direction,” he said.

However, Navarro warns it won’t be easy: “People are very resistant to that because it’s a change and nobody wants to change.”

© 2016 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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