Nova Scotia election results add more gender diversity to legislature

Click to play video: 'Small increase of women elected to Province House in Nova Scotia election' Small increase of women elected to Province House in Nova Scotia election
Gender parity in public office is an on-going challenge in Nova Scotia politics but Tuesday’s provincial election adds a few more women to the mix. – May 31, 2017

The Nova Scotia legislature has 51 seats representing communities from across the province, but since its formation in 1758, those seats have been dominated by Caucasian males.

“It is important for government to fairly and accurately reflect the people that it represents and women are 50 to 51 per cent of the population,” said Pamela Lovelace, the Nova Scotia chair of Equal Voice, a national, non-partisan organization that strives to elect more women at all levels of government.

At the time of dissolution at the end of April, 14 MLAs in the House of Assembly were women, 36 were men and one seat was vacant.

The vacant seat belonged to former Dartmouth South MLA Marian Mancini, who resigned one week before the election was called.

READ MORE: Nova Scotia Election: Tracking party promises on diversity

The unofficial election results from Tuesday show women will now make up one-third of the legislature with 17 seats belonging to women and 34 seats belonging to males.

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“I just think it’s a great sign for democracy when the house reflects, better reflects, the way our community is made up,” said Susan Leblanc, NDP MLA-elect for Dartmouth North.

Leblanc was one of eight women newly elected to the house.

The Liberals saw the election of Rafah DiConstanzo, MLA-elect for Clayton Park West, which was originally held by Diana Whalen who chose not to run for re-election.

For the Progressive Conservatives, Nova Scotians voted in Barbara Adams, MLA-elect for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage; Alana Paon, MLA-elect for Cape Breton-Richmond; Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin, MLA-elect for Cumberland North; and Kim Masland, MLA-elect for Queens Shelburne.

While the NDP, in addition to Leblanc, also gained Tammy Martin, MLA-elect for Cape Breton Centre and Claudia Chender, MLA-elect for Dartmouth South.

READ MORE: Nova Scotia election: A by-the-numbers breakdown of the results

“I hope I can be the voice of the multicultural women and the Canadian women,” DiConstanzo said.

DiConstanzo was born in Iraq and immigrated to Canada in her early 20s. She said being elected to government is a dream she hopes she will be able to pass on to others.

“I was very afraid of stepping up because it’s not something that a multicultural women, from Iraq, [usually does] to step up and be in government. I’m hoping that I’m going to inspire many other women from different cultures to do what I’m doing,” she said.

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None of the election results are official until approved by the Chief Electoral Officer.

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