Political parties propose and support many policies and ideas. Some ideas are top-flight and beneficial to their political fortunes. Others seem good in theory, but may require additional tinkering or minor adjustment(s).
Still other ideas may turn out to be untenable, or require a significant overhaul or have to be abandoned.
Then there are ideas that can be described with a single word: stupid.
That brings us to the Ontario Liberals and their leader Steven Del Duca.
The party has decided to hold women-only candidate nominations in 22 ridings for the next provincial election. The ridings are as follows: Ajax, Bay of Quinte, Burlington, Don Valley West, Essex, Etobicoke North, Guelph, Humber River-Black Creek, Huron-Bruce, Kitchener-Conestoga, Mississauga Centre, Mississauga-Lakeshore, Oakville North-Burlington, Oshawa, Ottawa Centre, Scarborough-Agincourt, Scarborough-Rouge Park, Spadina-Fort York, Thornhill, Toronto-Danforth, Windsor West and York South-Weston.
Ontarians appear to have mixed opinions about women-only candidate nominations.
For instance, Global News’s Albert Delitala interviewed three women on Nov. 26.
Janice Hebbert, a business owner in Oshawa, told him, “I mean, we’re able to run against the men, in my opinion. We don’t have to have them excluded to win.”
Conversely, Wenda Abel in Whitby said she believed that “women have a different perspective on what’s important, what’s high-priority, so I think we’re more likely to put people first.”
Margaret Egan in Courtice claimed, “I really just feel that it’s good to have more women on the scene and [at] the table and coming to the forefront. I really do believe it’s a good sign.”
The Ontario Liberals aren’t the first political party to suggest something like this.
The three major United Kingdom-based parties have employed this strategy to differing degrees. Labour started using an all-women shortlist in the 1990s. The Liberal Democrats used “zipping” to create an equal number of male and female members in the European Parliament in 1999, and gradually introduced an all-women shortlist. Even the Conservatives sparingly used a shortlist in a few ridings between 2010 and 2015, although the party has reversed this practice.
Several left-wing parties in Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Latin America and South Korea have also used this formula to select women candidates.
But while imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, emulating a boneheaded strategy may be the most obvious form of idiocy.
It’s surprising that anyone other than far-left radicals would lightly support or give credence to such a backward policy. Maybe it’s because many of them haven’t seriously considered the implications of making such a foolish move.
If you’re a male living in one of these 22 ridings and you wanted to run for the Ontario Liberals, you’re out of luck. For no other reason than your gender. That’s just as bad as when would-be political candidates were regularly discriminated against on the basis of race, religion and, yes, gender for generations.
Imposing women-only nominations creates an image that the Ontario Liberals believe female candidates can’t get nominated in these ridings in a fair fight against male candidates. Unless women in politics don’t mind being perceived as inferior, which definitely isn’t the case, they will be regarded as second-class citizens by a party that claims to view them as equals.
Women-only candidate nominations, shortlists, “zipping” and other similar formulas are the equivalent of gender quotas and affirmative-action policies. While some people favour these schemes, I don’t. It’s unhealthy and unwise to manufacture strategies to force equality for historically disadvantaged groups instead of creating competitive environments that lead to equal opportunity for people from all walks of life.
Women in and outside these ridings were likely insulted by this decision – and rightfully so. Excluding men from several nominations will help create the wrong image. The proposal doesn’t support gender equity – in fact, it would lead to more gender inequity.
Del Duca and the Ontario Liberals likely don’t care about any of this. They think they have the right strategy when it comes to women-only candidate nominations – and just about everything else.
Stupid, stupid, stupid.
Michael Taube, a Troy Media syndicated columnist and Washington Times contributor, was a speechwriter for former prime minister Stephen Harper. He holds a master’s degree in comparative politics from the London School of Economics. For interview requests, click here.
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