Critical gains for women could be lost if Doug Ford wins election in OntarioJune 17, 2018
In a few short days, Ontario voters will head to the polls to elect our next government.
This has been an election for the history books, and there is a great deal at stake.
In the wake of #MeToo and #TimesUp, all across the province we’ve seen an influx of young women entering the political arena. These women have bravely put their names on ballots, knocked on thousands of doors, and brought fresh perspectives and innovative solutions to the political discourse.
I’ve met many extraordinary women on the campaign trail, dedicating their time and energy to impacting the outcome of the upcoming election — many of them for the first time. Feminists who care deeply for our communities, working tirelessly together to ensure the next government continues to build on and protect the gains seen under the leadership of Premier Kathleen Wynne.
Wynne proactively planned, prioritized and moved the dial on issues uniquely impacting women.
She partnered with researchers and front-line workers providing supports for victims of gender-based violence in a sincere effort to ensure the government was providing sufficient support.
Her focus resulted in much-needed increases to sexual assault crisis centre budgets as they struggle to meet local demands for services, more safe beds for women and families in need of transitional housing as they take the necessary steps to rebuild their lives following abuse, and improvements to supports in rural communities while addressing a need for culturally appropriate and safe services.
She met with student leaders to support their work on campuses across the province, creating funded sexual violence prevention and support strategies. While there is no way to measure the exact impact of her #WhoWillYouHelp and #ItsNeverOk campaigns, we can be certain that they contributed to sparking much-needed conversations across industries about the role we each play in shifting a toxic culture and providing better supports to victims of gender-based violence.
She empowered her caucus and cabinet to identify how each of their portfolios and initiatives could contribute to her women’s economic empowerment and gender-based violence prevention agenda. Stemming from this, her team piloted and expanded free legal advice for survivors of sexual assault, made great strides toward addressing the ever-persistent gender pay gap with legislation that came into effect this past April, and set mandatory targets to ensure more women have a seat at the table through provincial board and agency appointments.
Her record on measures put in place to combat a culture of harassment and violence against women is unprecedented. These are all important steps forward, and there is much more work ahead.
We don’t know exactly what Doug Ford intends to do if elected as premier, as he’s chosen not to produce a fully costed platform. However, from the commitments made on his website we can see that he intends to take the province backward on many of these gains.
We know he has promised to turn back the clock on the modernized sexual education curriculum, which includes a critical focus on consent and healthy relationships. He has further committed to rolling back legislation passed with the aim to ensure women are able to access abortion services without facing harassment.
I’m extraordinarily proud of the work accomplished under Wynne’s leadership. She has led with a refusal to settle for the status quo with a transparent, visionary and activist government. We can’t afford to go backward.
We often get caught up searching for “the real thing” in politics. We want the Jed Bartlet of political leaders — authentic, charismatic, principled, brilliant and witty.
The truth is, there is no perfect candidate. Political leaders are regular people, like you and me, striving for better in both themselves and their communities.
I place political leaders into two categories — those who believe themselves to be dignitaries wielding power, and those who prove themselves as functionaries for progressive change.
Wynne has proven herself to be a true functionary in Canadian politics.
Despite her best efforts, Ontarians have made it clear that they want change.
Come Thursday, I hope Ontario will elect a government committed to building on her legacy rather than looking for ways to repeal her hard-fought work in support of the women of this great province.