No women representing Windsor-Essex after 2019 election
'They're definitely allies ... but it's not at all the same' says Remy Boulbol
A record number of women ran in the 2019 federal election, but there will be no women representing Windsor-Essex in Parliament.
In the 2015 general election, 88 women were elected — 12 more than the election before. 54 of those women had been elected for the first time.
Locally in 2019, Tracey Ramsey, Cheryl Hardcastle, Audrey Festeryga and Sandra Pupatello all lost their ridings.
Hardcastle, who ran for the NDP in Windsor-Tecumseh, lost by a narrow margin to the Liberal candidate.
"You use what you've learned and you move forward," said Hardcastle, adding that she'll continue to be involved with the community.
Political science professor and analyst Lydia Miljan said the lack of women isn't because the candidates were women.
"In all those races, the female candidates did exceptionally well," said Miljan. "At the end of the day, the national campaign dictated how things went. I don't think the fact that they were women [had anything to do with it] but rather they were with parties on a downward spiral."
But the past Ontario Liberal candidate for Windsor-Tecumseh, Remy Boulbol, has mixed feelings about losing women representatives. She doesn't think they lost because they are female, but is not happy about the results.
"We don't have a female representing more than 51 per cent of our population across Windsor-Essex," said Boulbol. "We've got no one with that voice at the table, which is disheartening."
According to Boulbol, those elected, like Irek Kusmierczyk and Brian Masse are "champions" of women but said it's not the same.
"They're definitely allies ... but it's not at all the same," said Boulbol. "It's always hard for women to run .. I think this will hopefully spark a conversation. We've got work to do."
Nour Hachem-Fawaz, president and founder of Build-A-Dream, said it's important to acknowledge the lack of female voices, but that when she advocates for women in leadership positions, she's also advocating for the best candidate to win.
"It's a democratic process. Voters decide," said Hachem-Fawaz. "It may be disappointing but I'm always optimistic ... hopefully more women will put their hat in the race which would possibly increase their odds of winning."
Hachem-Fawaz was inspired 15 years ago by Sandra Pupatello.
"One of the reasons I really wanted to go into leadership was watching [her] speak on stage," said Hachem-Fawaz. "Women are watching."
Hannath Ruuth, a university student who volunteered with Irek Kusmiercyzk's campaign, echoed that the losses witnessed by some of the women candidates running in Windsor-Essex had more to do with federal platforms, rather than gender.
Ruuth added that she was impressed by the number of women who were managing federal campaigns, pointing to the fact that Kusmiercyzk's and Pupatello's campaigns were both managed by women.
"This is a huge involvement in politics — having your campaign leadership team being female and including females in these decisions as well," said Ruuth.
Nonetheless, she said more women need to be encouraged to run for office, adding that she'd also like to see more women run for leadership positions in municipal politics.