Female Premiers Flank the Country
The embattled British Columbia Liberal party elected their new leader this past Saturday, and they put their faith in former deputy premier and radio talk show host Christy Clark. Clark beat three other leadership hopefuls on the third ballot, and will take over from Gordon Campbell who resigned after his handling of the HST. Clark’s major emphasis appears to be families, and she reiterated that point throughout her acceptance speech. Clark received few endorsements from sitting members of the Legislature, but she now expects her party to fall in behind her as she takes the reins.
Obviously Clark’s victory is significant, as Canada has a terrible history with female politicians. Clark becomes the second female premier in British Columbia, and the fourth in Canada overall. Once Clark takes office, it will be the first time in Canadian history that two female premiers have served at the same time. Kathy Dunerdale is currently the Progressive Conservative Premier of Newfoundland, replacing Danny Williams. Canada is flanked by two female premiers on each coast.
Another significant aspect of these two provinces is that not only do they have female premiers, but they have female leaders of all their major political parties. In British Columbia, Clark leads the Liberals, Dawn Black is the (interim) leader of the NDP, and Jane Sterk leads the Green Party. In Newfoundland, Dunderdale leads the Conservatives, the Liberals are led by Yvonne Jones and the NDP is led by Lorraine Michael. In the event of an election in each province, a female victory is guaranteed. That is something that has never happened before.
Perhaps too much is being made of Dunderdale and Clark’s victories, but it is a positive step for Canadian provincial politics. Alberta could be the next province to follow, British Columbia and Newfoundland. Danielle Smith leads the Wildrose Alliance Party, and the PC’s and Liberals are in the midst of leadership races. In each case, female candidates have put their name forward. Alison Redford is contending the PC leadership, and Laurie Blakeman is a declared candidate for the Liberals. Perhaps, Alberta could be joining the ranks of these two provinces.
There is no doubt that Clark has a tough road ahead of her. How she handles the HST could determine how long she will remain premier of British Columbia. Hopefully her party stands behind her and they can put the Gordon Campbell era behind them.