Trudeau should fill Canadian Senate vacancies with women, group says
Senate would be improved by gender parity, says businesswoman and activist
A lack of female voices in Canada's House of Commons has spurred a group of prominent women to urge Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to fill all current Senate vacancies with women.
Donna Dasko told CBC's Maritime Noon that if the vacancies — 22 in all — were filled by women it would mean gender parity in the Senate. Currently, only 30 of the 83 sitting senators are women.
"The main parties don't nominate enough women in winnable ridings, that's why we should look at the Senate as a place where we should try to achieve gender parity," the former Environics Research Group vice president said Thursday.
"Because we can and because our House of Commons is so lacking in female voices."
The letter signed by more than 80 prominent Canadian women, including former politicians, academics and businesswomen, says:
"To achieve gender equality as soon as possible, the 22 current vacancies should be filled by women from diverse backgrounds, including Indigenous women, women from minority linguistic, racial and ethnic communities, and others, consistent with the Senate's role in minority representation."
'We can't assume at all that men are more qualified'
Dasko, also co-founder and former national chair of Equal Voice, a group that campaigns for equal representation of women in government, said the move would ensure the most qualified candidates fill those positions.
"You can go to any community in this country and you will see women who are qualified to sit in the Senate. Women who have taken leadership roles in politics, in business, in labour unions and social action groups and community groups," she said.
"If we look at the women the prime minister has appointed to the cabinet, we can look at their qualifications, we can see how incredibly well suited they are to those jobs. We can't assume at all that men are more qualified. This is essentially a sexist argument."