On the eve of a crucial parliamentary election in Canada, a new survey finds that most Canadians say they don’t think the country has improved its standing in terms of women and people of colour in leadership roles.
In a poll conducted by Angus Reid on behalf of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, Canadians said they felt the country was not doing enough to improve its representation of women in politics and leadership roles in the public service, despite the fact that women make up the majority of Parliamentarians in Canada.
While only 10 per cent of Canadians felt that way, those numbers increased to 40 per cent among those who did not identify as Conservative supporters, 40 per of those who were Conservative supporters and 37 per cent who were Liberal supporters.
A total of 58 per cent said they did not believe Canada had a strong or adequate female representation in Parliament.
“We are not doing the work,” said Lori Meech, who was one of the pollsters for the Angus Reid Institute.
The idea that if we have a strong woman, she’ll represent us, then women will say, ‘OK, we’ve got that.'” “
I think this is a big problem.
The idea that if we have a strong woman, she’ll represent us, then women will say, ‘OK, we’ve got that.'”
But Meeech said Canadians felt the same way when it came to a wide range of topics: from climate change to the environment, to gun control to immigration.
“One of the things that I think is really striking is the fact people’s attitudes towards a lot of these issues have shifted, but they haven’t changed much over time,” she said.
Meechuk said the poll also showed that people felt that the federal government was moving too slowly in reducing inequality.
“This is an issue where Canadians are getting very upset about,” she added.
“They think we’re not moving as fast as we need to be.”
The survey comes as the federal Liberals and New Democrats are campaigning for the federal election and Canadians are still unsure how the new party is doing on gender equality.
One of the candidates, Justin Trudeau, was asked about the survey and said that Canadians should “look to our government for leadership and accountability.”
The Prime Minister’s Office, however, defended the government’s record on women in the federal cabinet, saying that the majority are men.
“The overwhelming majority of women are in Cabinet,” said spokesperson Shauna Bennett.
“Women in government work for us, not the other way around.”
“We’re always looking for ways to improve the gender balance in the Parliament.
We have a lot more work to do.”
But Bennett also said that the poll results suggest Canadians are not fully supportive of the government in the way it has traditionally handled gender issues.
“If you look at the numbers on gender in government, it shows that Canadians are very concerned about the way the federal Conservative government is handling these issues,” she explained.
“That’s a reflection of the fact they are working very, very hard.”
In fact, in one of Canada’s largest ridings in the country, Newmarket—Richmond—East York, only 9 per cent felt that they were following the government to achieve gender equality, while 60 per cent thought the government was not leading in that area.
The same question was asked in Calgary—Nose Hill—Winnipeg—Nunavut, where only 13 per cent responded positively to the survey.
However, the results from the survey do not show that Canadians view the Conservative government in a positive light.
“When asked how much they agreed or disagreed with the statements ‘the federal government is doing a good job of addressing issues such as equality’ and ‘the Harper government is focused on promoting women in Parliament,’ just 13 per-cent of Canadians agreed that the government is following the right direction,” the Angus Trent University survey said.
“A plurality of those surveyed agreed that there was a need for a greater focus on gender equity.”
The poll of 1,005 Canadians also asked whether people felt comfortable with the way women were represented in Parliament, as well as their ability to influence legislation.
When asked how they felt about women in leadership positions, nearly a quarter of Canadians said it was a “strongly positive” or “somewhat positive” experience, compared to only 20 per cent saying it was “very positive.”
But when asked if they thought it was fair that women in political positions were treated differently than men in the same positions, only one in five Canadians felt it was an unfair treatment.
“Most Canadians, including most Conservative supporters,” Meechan said.
She said the results show that “there is a disconnect” between the public’s perceptions of the Harper government and how it is actually doing its job in Ottawa.
“As I’ve said before, I think there’s a disconnect.
They’re being portrayed as an anti-feminist, anti-women government,” Miech said.
However she added that the