Nova Scotia

Women's issues, 'Up For Debate' campaign gets Nova Scotian support

Linda MacDonald and Jeanne Sarson want a national debate on women's issues to be taken seriously at the federal level. They are calling for party leaders to be answer questions concerning the physical and mental health of women.

'Up for Debate' campaign wants federal party leaders to agree to a national debate on women's issues

Jeanne Sarson feels strongly that federal party leaders should express where they stand on the many women's issues that have come to light in Canada. (CBC)

Two Nova Scotian women are getting behind a national push towards a federal election debate that focuses entirely on women's issues. 

Linda MacDonald and Jeanne Sarson are vocal in their support of Up For Debate, an alliance of organizations united in raising awareness about women's rights until the next election. They are calling for party leaders to answer questions about the many national issues that concern the physical and mental health of women. 

"I need to hear from them," Sarson said. "[About] what they think women's issues are because it affects men and boys and girls and women totally. It affects the society we live in."

Both women are members of an organization called Persons Against Non-state Torture. Their mandate is to work with people who've experienced forms of domestic torture. 

Their organization joins over 170 others in Canada in supporting the campaign.

Julie Delahanty, the executive director of Oxfam Canada, is also on the Up for Debate committee. 

"We've been negotiating with broadcasters," Delahanty said.

"We've been in discussions with various members of the parties and, of course, we're very hopeful. We've been asking for this debate since October and we're really hoping that they'll be up for debate."

If the campaign is successful, it will be the second time in Canadian history a federal debate will focus on women's issues. The first happened in 1984 with Brian Mulroney, Ed Broadbent and John Turner.


Two prominent politicians have commented on Up For Debate, its relevance and whether they are going to participate. 

MP Megan Leslie said New Democratic Leader Tom Mulcair has made Up For Debate a priority. 

"He immediately agreed to take part and it's disappointing that Mr. Trudeau and Mr. Harper have, so far, said they won't participate," she said.

"It's hard to believe that it has been 30 years since the last federal leader's debate that focused on women's issues."

Jeremy Broadhurst, the national director for the Liberal Party of Canada, reiterated the party's openness to all issues, but hasn't directly supported the campaign.

"It's important to remember that Justin Trudeau has not declined any debates, but for now, our focus remains on meeting as many Canadians as possible across the country," he said.

"The Liberal Party of Canada remains fully committed to promoting full and substantive equality for all women, and creating a strong, inclusive society for all."

CBC News requested a comment from the Conservative Party, but there has not yet been a response. 

The Conservative Party has not yet agreed to a televised debate presented by the Broadcast Consortium, made up of CBC, Radio Canada, CTV and Shaw/Global. So far, they have only agreed to two English-language debates: one focusing on economic issues hosted by The Globe and Mail and Google and streamed online; and a debate on Canadian foreign policy to be held under the Munk Debates banner.


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