My Little Corner of Canada: Embrace the good
Like a lot of people, I did not think much of the proposal to have gender parity in the Nunavut legislative assembly when I first heard about it.
At first, it felt uncomfortable to be even discussing such a change to our democratic system. Was this a departure from the merit system?
After much thought and listening to both sides of the argument, I came to the conclusion that it was not undemocratic nor a departure from the merit system.
As a matter of fact, I now see it as a fine tuning of democracy because it would result in society, as a whole, being better represented.
What do voters think of when they consider the merits of a candidate?
Intelligence, education, and experience obviously make the list. But many voters also think about other things such as; is the candidate from my community? Is he or she related to me? Does he or she owe me any favours?
Like it or not, many voters add these things to their lists of merit. Electing people on the basis of merit is not an exact science. The best people don’t always win.
In many occasions, a candidate wins because he or she has more cronies or has more money behind them and not necessarily because they have more merit.
Even with gender parity, candidates for the Nunavut legislative assembly will continue to be elected on the basis of their merit. And voters will still make up their own lists of merit.
Are we dividing up the sexes and condemning them forever only to compete against their own gender? No, we are not. First of all, this is not about competition between the sexes. It is about bringing them together.
There is no division of voters so all candidates will have to impress all voters and not only those of their gender. They will also vie for cabinet posts with all other members.
The only division will be the two lists of candidates. From the two lists will emerge a group of men and women, in equal numbers, who will sit at the highest levels of leadership in Nunavut.
This leadership will better reflect society as a whole. It will represent the family better. It will result in a wider view. It will foster better understanding, respect, and cooperation between men and women.
There needs to be a reconciliation between men and women. There needs to be a strengthening of the family. We need to express our faith in each other. Having gender parity in our legislature would be a good beginning.
This is not being proposed as a favour to women. It is being proposed because it will benefit all of us, not just women.
But it is also about the empowerment of women. In terms of power, responsibilities, and rewards, women do not get their fair share. This will not solve all inequities but it is a step in the right direction.
It is natural for people to have some fear about new things and new ways of doing things. But sometimes we need to sweep aside our fears and embrace the good.
People who support this proposal are not looking for tins that would do harm to our society. They are looking for something better than the status quo. They are at peace with their decision.
If the Yes side wins the plebiscite, there will be a lot of tears of joy and happiness. If the No side wins, those tears will be tears of humiliation, rejection, and sadness. We have had enough sadness. Let us sweep aside our fears and prejudices and embrace this good thing.