November 9, 2016 10:12 am
Updated: November 9, 2016 6:21 pm

‘A Trump victory is a disaster’: Disappointment reigns as historic hopes fade for women in politics

WATCH ABOVE: One Halifax university professor says American women should be very worried about Tuesday's election results. Global's Jennifer Grudic has more on reaction from women in the Maritimes, and what a trump presidency could mean for our female neighbours to the south.

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OTTAWA – For countless women in Canadian politics, Tuesday’s U.S. election added insult to injury: not only did Hillary Clinton fail to shatter the glass ceiling, but it was none other than Donald Trump who thwarted her efforts.

“I think a Trump victory is a disaster, not just for Canada, but for the world,” said former Progressive Conservative prime minister Kim Campbell.

As Canada’s first female PM, Campbell was looking forward to seeing Clinton reach a similar milestone, sending a powerful message around the globe that would help normalize the idea of women in leadership positions.

She was also keen to see Trump go down to defeat.

A woman weeps as election results are announced during Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s election night rally in the Jacob Javits Center glass enclosed lobby in New York, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016.

AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

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READ MORE: What President Donald Trump will mean for Canada

Campbell was troubled by his admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin, as well as the stoking of sexist, racist, anti-judiciary and anti-institutional sentiments among the electorate — something that could have a profound effect on the strength of American democracy going forward.

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“I think that this is a man who is so ignorant about the geopolitics of the world, so uninformed and incurious that he is extremely dangerous and I think it’s a big challenge for the countries of the world to try and deal with him,” she said.

“They were very frightened before the election, and they must be in absolute despair right now.”

Green party Leader Elizabeth May was similarly blunt.

“It’s clearly horrific,” she said.

READ MORE: George W. Bush left presidential ballot blank, refused to vote for Trump

May said Trump has promised to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Agreement on climate change, a move she’s convinced could end up destroying the whole thing.

“The possibility that the U.S. electorate has just condemned our grandchildren is a significant risk,” she said.

There was also a high degree of disappointment over having come so close.

Hillary Clinton supporters react as results come in at an election night party for the Democratic presidential candidate at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York, late on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016.

Vernon Bryant/The Dallas Morning News via AP

“I was so confident, you know? A woman president!” Olivia Chow, the former NDP MP from Toronto, said before letting out a big sigh.

“People are not ready for female leaders,” Chow said as she contemplated the result.

“People that are not doing well are looking for someone to blame and it must be the migrants, it must be the refugees, it must be the latte-drinking city worker.”

Nancy Peckford, executive director of Equal Voice, agreed that sexism likely played a role in the result.

“It makes us wonder if the U.S. electorate was ready for a female president,” Peckford said.

Watch Below: Clinton supporters wear ‘suffragette white’ and tweet #WearWhiteToVote

Conservative MP Michelle Rempel said before she comes to any conclusions about the significance of a Clinton loss, she needs to know one key piece of information.

“To me, the real issue is: how did women in the United States vote?” Rempel said. “Sometimes gender is one axis out of many.”

The election was about overturning the status quo, she added.

“I think there is going to be a lot made about people that don’t feel as if their voices were heard in the current political establishment, and you can’t negate the validity of those voices.”

READ MORE: U.S. Election: People are scared of the ‘new’ America even before a winner is called

Maybe so, but that would come as cold comfort to many.

People sit outside the Jacob Javits Center waiting for election results following a rally for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in New York Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

AP Photo/Craig Ruttle

At one election-watching event in Toronto, Elizabeth Littlejohn broke into her boxes of Kleenex. “If a man with 20 years White House experience was running, we would be far in the lead,” she lamented.

Susie Erjavec Parker, who organized an election-watching party in Winnipeg for “nasty women” and “bad hombres” — a nod to insults Trump used in one of the presidential debates — described the mood Tuesday night as one of “nervous trepidation.”

“It’s a shame, because his entire candidacy has overshadowed what should be a historic win for her.”

Watch Below: Donald Trump’s wife, Melania Trump, spoke on Nov. 3 at a rally in Pennsylvania, where she told supporters that she would work to provide opportunity to women living in poverty if her husband is elected president.

Hazel McCallion, the longtime former mayor of Mississauga, Ont., sounded a contrarian note earlier in the day, saying Trump had a positive influence on the campaign.

“I think Trump has made his contribution by shaking the establishment in the United States,” she said. “I think it brought forward a lot of people who felt they didn’t have a voice or felt they could accomplish anything and I think that has been good.”

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Other women in Canadian politics also spoke of the sexism and misogyny that will be a legacy of the remarkable 2016 campaign.

“I think that there will be real implications from the divisiveness and the toxicity that we’ve seen and it’s going to take some time to get over that,” Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said Tuesday morning, long before the polls closed.

Wellesley College students and supporters of Hillary Clinton Kumari Devarajan, of Washington, left, and Diana Castillo, of Elgin, Ill,, right, wipe away tears as they watch televised election returns during a watch party on the campus of Wellesley College, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016, in Wellesley, Mass. Clinton graduated from Wellesley College in 1969.

AP Photo/Steven Senne

NDP MP Sheila Malcolmson, her party’s critic for the status of women, said Tuesday’s outcome will ring all too familiar for many.

“It will be a very discouraging confirmation of what, unfortunately, too many around the world have experienced — that the underqualified man gets promoted over the highly qualified woman.”

— With files from Gwen Dambrofsky in Edmonton

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