Toronto

Ontario township makes history by electing all-female council

Two Ontario municipalities elected all-female councils in local elections this week. On CBC Radio's Ontario Morning, the mayor of the Township of Algonquin Highlands, talked about what it means for her community.

Mayor Carol Moffatt returns to the top job for a third term with 4 other women around the table

Clockwise from top left: Carol Moffatt, Algonquin Highlands mayor; Liz Danielsen, deputy mayor; Jennifer Dailloux, newly elected councillor; and Lisa Barry, councillor. Another council member is not shown. (Submitted)

This week, voters in Ontario made history twice by electing two all-female councils. 

One is in Spanish, Ont. The other is a five-woman council in the Township of Algonquin Highlands in cottage country, about a three hour drive northeast of Toronto.

"It's a pretty noteworthy achievement in the face of political life in Ontario, and we're definitely proud to be part of it," Algonquin Highlands Mayor Carol Moffatt told CBC Radio's Ontario Morning on Thursday.

 Moffatt is returning to the top job for a third term.

"The fact that we are all women is important, and on the other hand, it shouldn't have to matter ... But the fact that it shouldn't have to matter is exactly why it does matter."

Voters increasingly value a diversity of opinions and perspectives at the table, Moffatt says.

As demands on municipalities mount, she adds, residents are more and more interested "in having a say in how their communities are crafted."

Victory for women, but where's the diversity?

Moffatt doesn't anticipate any major changes to how the township's council goes about its daily business. But it will put an emphasis on a consultative approach to governance. 

"It is important to have a balance. While some people will say, 'Hurrah for women,' others are saying, 'Wait a minute. what about everyone else's voices?'"

Moffatt says despite an all-female council, most department heads in the township are men. Those perspectives will be included in the decision-making process. 

She adds that while the council may be missing men and visible minorities, its members bring a wide array of experiences to the table. 

"Our youngest councillor is 41 and the mother of two small children, and the oldest is 70 and widowed and I'm somewhere in the middle," Moffatt said.

"We kind of have a diversity of life experiences that I think will benefit not only the decision makers but the community at large."