What do the New Democrats have in common with the Spartans?

Answer: they love their men. And that love was reaffirmed when the party voted for testosterone candidates in three out of the four weekend nomination races - capping off a week of bad press about the party's gender-balance problem. So why do the provincial New Democrats seem to prefer candidates with hair on their chests? Well, last week, party leader Carole James blathered something about "women putting their names in later than a lot of the men did in the nominations" giving the men a "head start" signing-up supporters. Or perhaps the women should have spent more time campaigning and less time going on four week-long kayaking trips? But one senior insider suggested this might be another contributing factor: "I think there are folks in the party, old-liners, who have never been fond of the women's rights committee. And they think, because we have a female as a leader, that's enough." So the men get the rest of the party.

35 Comments

Has anyone noticed that the women candidates who have had their names up for nomination really aren't stars? Beyond Raj Sihota and Judy Darcy, they've been relativley average (and those two where up against very tough Male candidates) -- no one with the name recognition or political power of a Joy MacPhail or a Christy Clark. And maybe that's the reason why they're loosing.

If the NDP isn't recuriting high profile women, then the women won't win just cause they're women. And if high profile women aren't stepping up then they won't win. It's really not too complicated. And frankly it seems stupid that so many people are complaining about it. Don't blame the members within each riding, they're only voting for the best candidate for their ridings. That is perfectly logical.

I absolutely agree with the first comment here. However, I think that the 'insider' cited in this article here is probably making things up. Woody Guthrie sang songs about the women's rights movement eighty years ago, and I'd be willing to suggest that no mainstream political party (ie. no party that has won elections) in the western world, has been more dedicated to gender parity for as long as has the NDP. Further, to talk about 'old-liners' who don't want women as candidates is to ignore the fact that in many of these nomination battles (Hastings, or Fairview, for instance), it's actually new members that are propelling these guys over these women. And as the fellow mentioned above, these were not the strongest candidates anyway.

There it is.

Enough already! This whole issue started because a bunch out of Provincial Office were not getting the candidates they supported, mainly women, nominated, and they did not like it. So in order to deflect their inability to get the job done, they shifted the focus to parity. Lest we forget, there are men who are the better candidate also not winning nominations, Steve McClurg in New Westminster for instance. There are other factors involved in all of these nominations, but to blame the Party for more women not being nominated is only helping some in Provincial Office feel better about the inept job they've been doing.

Joy MacPhail and Christy Clark were not stars when they started either. It proves that women can succeed in politics if they get the chance. But the nomination process is the biggest hurdle, and what you need to win a nomination is only a small part of what makes a successful politician. Mostly it is a test of name recognition and organization. 79 winner-take-all contests is also part of the problem. Maybe with STV parties would put forward a more balanced slate.

I hope you wern't addressing that too me, because I essentially agree. I'm saying there's no point in bitching about the NDP (meaning rank and file members) for not voting whatever way a bunch of whiners wants them to vote. If they aren't willing to occasionally clear the way, like things are shaping up in Burnaby Willingdon for Gabriel Yu, then they won't get the candidates they want. And therefore there isn't any point in complaining about it -- some nominations seemed wierd (Pat Shuttleworth would've been way better than Erda Walsh) but on balance the decisions have been reasonably good (ie: Rob Fleming over Steve Orcherton).

Some people like to complain, maybe they should stop.

Why not recruit Adrian Carr too.
She might add some of her star dust to the party.
Is this just a coincidence or is this fate? What an irony a left wing party is having a controversy of its own nominating a candidate of either an ethnic origin or of a female gender. The idea of having Carole James leading a bunch of male MLA is quite a funny one I must say.

to The Truth May Hurt. Without getting into a mudslinging issue, the simple fact is, that in the New Westminster, the better of the 2 candidates won. Sorry to say, but as a resident of New West, I was getting sick and tired of the old tired slogan... "we came this close in the last federal election." Along with the various rumours and innuendo that were used against Coun. Puchmayr by the McClurg campaign right up to and including the day of the nomination. Beyond that, the race was won, the more electable of the 2 people won, now its time to put that all aside and get on with the task at hand.

As for my stance on there not being enough woman candidates, call me old school, but I always thought that the equality part of woman's equality, meant that they wanted to be on an equal footing with the male gender of society, or in this case, the party. You put your name forward, go out and sign up people, have them turn out at the nomination meeting and vote for you, and away you go.

I don't know if its an indictment on the party, to have the nominations go the way that they are, but isn't it up to the constituents within each riding to select the person that they feel is best suited to represent them, be it male or female, caucasian or ethnic? In the NDP, we've been fortunate to have several strong woman in our party, people like Joy and Jenny, as well as others who have previously served.

More important to me as a member of the party, is the fact that we have more progressive policies towards assisting people who need the assistance, such as woman's shelters and centres and the like, whereas the Liberals have balanced the budget by massively slashing resources for these centres and shelters. And as far as I can see, our policies towards those issues hasn't changed, so what does it matter who's getting nominated or not, as long as the policies are going to be followed through on and the greater good is served? Other than a few bruised egos, amongst a few people.

NWR, "Without getting into a mudslinging issue", you might want to discuss YOUR issue with the McClurg campaign since mudslinging is exactly what you have just done. You might also try to allow people to hold a different view than yours as to who the better candidate is, there are many, many people who do not happen to agree with you.


Well, as a New Democrat, it is exasperating to see the continued all-male domination of our nomination results, and the ongoing machinations about it, all with little positive results. I think the one thing that has been lacking in the whole process (I mean going back a few years) is leadership.

While NWR might say: "You put your name forward, go out and sign up people, have them turn out at the nomination meeting and vote for you, and away you go." The reality is that there is more to it than that. The current nomination process, which has gone largely unchanged in many decades, does not necessarily get the best folks as our candidates.

It almost always favours the people with the most political 'seniority' (i.e. who's been hanging around the longest in the small party circles in any given constituency), and does not necessarity get a candidate who will appeal the best to the whole community beyond the party insiders, nor does it necessarily get the candidate that helps the party as a whole achieve the best overall slate of candidates.

What is really lacking is some leadership from leading Party personalities and people in positions of leadership who should have decided that a stellar slate of representative candidates was a critical goal, and gone out and gotten good people to run, and worked hard within the process to help get them elected. Ultimately the members decide - as it should be - but many members look to people in positions of leadership for advice and guidance - which we may or may not agree with in the end.

I believe Jack Layton has shown this leadership federally; more than willing to roll up his sleeves and get involved in ensuring we have a high calibre, balanced, and representative slate of federal candidates. We equally need such leadership from leaders in the Provincial party. I think Carole is genuinely concerned about these issues, but is probably getting bad advice in terms of not doing anything. I hope this changes.

Otherwise a vaccum re: candidate selection is left, which is being happily filled by other 'groups' organizing to effect nomination outcomes in various constituencies, such as Harry Lali, and the rest of the Clarkite gang - who are actively intervening in nominations to get many of their like-minded folks nominated. When our leaders don't lead, others will. I'm not sure that is how we want our party to move forward?

As one of the women candidates who lost, I know that the women candidates are generally at least as qualified as the men. However, a variety of factors come into play that make it more difficult for women to win. Let me list a couple: Male and female language constructs differ, with men more comfortable in stating their competence and ability to do the job at hand ("I am the best candidate") and women emphasizing their willingness to work on behalf of others ("We must ensure that funding is returned to seniors, schools and hospitatls"). Both claims speak to political issues, but men's directness suggests to voters that they are more capable. Another is that men still earn substantially more than women. add to this the fact that many women enter politics after raising their children, and you find that women often have fewer financial and other resources to pay for their campaigns. In a similar vein, if you look at the structure of female-dominated employment such as education and health care, you will see that men dominate the administration both in the workplace and in the unions/associations that represent the workers. Thus, men from organized workplaces have higher visibility and thus are in a better position to win nominations. None of these factors mean that the man is better equipped to represent a riding than the woman; rather, they mean that the man has a better chance of winning.

MoreLeadership couldn't be more correct. This is an issue of leadership and leadership is about making choices. When choices are made, some like them and some don't. That's the nature of politics and governing.

It seems Carol James is lacking in this quality or wrongly believes that trying to make the maximum number of people happy between now and election day is the best strategy.

It's not hard-core New Democrats that Carol needs to play to, it's centrist voters. If she has to piss off some hard-core New Democrats to do so, so what? Who the hell else are they going to vote for?

James is weak. Too weak to leade her party and too weak to be Premier. The Clarkites are already circling like buzzards.

Carol James is in no way suited to run our province. Let's see what she did before her career in provincial politics, she ran a school board under the NDP, which just threw her money. Anyone can run a school board with money being thrown at you. Secondly she has no business experience. How can she run an economy or look at the budget without getting confused.

Back to the real issue, which isn't Carole James' business experience (how much experience did Gordon Campbell actually have that didn't involve living off the public teat?), nor is it the low number of women who were nominated. The real issue is that the whole provincial office/Vancouver/Monctonite cabal blew it big time for their candidates, because they couldn't organize their way out of a wet paper gab. Now they're pointing the finger at the 'sexist' NDP to deflect the heat from their own sorry asses. That's the issue. Women who are star candidates and who have a competent election team win nominations. Anyone can win a nomination, rich or poor: just sign up enough members and get them to the meeting. Not to mention the fact that 'affirmative action' candidates already recieve special funding for their nomination races from the party.

I say quit whining already.

Not again:

To be fair, it is not James's lack of business experience that concerns me. Not all politicians come from or should come from that perspective.

The albatross hanging around James's neck will be public concerns that she owes public sector labour leaders and will therefore sign very expensive, sweetheart deals with them. Also, the public will be concerned that James will cave to pressure from any and every special interest group demanding more tax dollars.

The fact that she is currently exuding weakness in everything she does and says will only heighten those concerns.

I don't for one moment believe that "also ran" actually ran for anything. The problems she cites are general social tendencies that have nothing to do with particular nomination contests. That men on average make more money has nothing to do with the actual incomes of three or four individuals seeking a particular nomination. And I have been hearing about gender-differed communication styles for a long time, and I think it's bunk, again, a general tendency perhaps, but nothing to do with individual candidates or contests.

What may be at work here is something much simpler. First, many rank and file NDPers object to the candidate search requirements, especially the notion that the local associations are supposed to somehow seek out and recruit qualified female and minority candidates without any practical help at all from Prov Office or the WRC or anyone else. If there is a real intention to find more female and minority candidates, this stance is counterproductive at best, and encourages cycnical suspicions about what Prof Office is really up to when they delay a nomination saying a riding hasn't done a good enough search. Add it all up, and this kind of approach has gotten a very bad reputation with much of the membership.

And there's always the possibility that the membership has decided that with a woman leading the party, the best way to win is not to have 50% women candidates. In fact, if Carole James is criticized by the formulaic left for not getting enough women on the roster, and she replies, "We did our best, and this is what the elections among members decided", she's going to look pretty sensible, pragmatic and mature to John and Jane Q. Voter.

That's absolutely ridiculous. The reason constituency execs don't want to bother doing a proper search is because 9 times out of 10 the people sitting around the table already know who they want the candidate to be. So instead of going out in the community and recruiting a highly qualified candidate, they say "Bob's been waiting 10 years and it's his turn, so let's not look too hard." When nobody except the usual suspects come forward, they then say "We tried our best to find more diverse candidates but these guys are the only ones who stepped forward." The reality is that leaving the candidate search process in the hands of consituency executives is an inherent conflict-of-interest. They are the most likely candidates and have zero incentive to get out into the community and encourage new people to run for nominations. It's a real shame because the search process is a great outreach tool that makes the party look good in the community.

Agree with Frank,the above commentator not the zine,Adriane Carr would be nice arrow in the quiver for NDP,not that it will matter.Perhaps the STV will help.I recall at one time in New York City a cry or howl was heard that only anglos were running for office,in the 1970's,much more Black &latino/a was called for so a study was done ,natch, a conclusion paraphrased here is that people aspire to public office and it can be unrewarding if all you want is a bag of money.So many were not going to bother but things change over time,nowNYC has many diverse background officers.All i'm sayin'is the Women will come but it will take time,be patient many will eventually aspire to office.Women's studies should be more promient in B.C. schools,uni's.
etc. then more will see the satisfaction and the unusalness of the endeavour,at least that's possible.

Budd Campbell: I'm angry that you say you "don't for one moment believe that 'also ran' actually ran for anything." First of all, yes I did. Don't call me a liar. Second, calling names is a classic method of discounting views and perspectives you don't agree with. That's puerile, childish, and disrespectful. Respond, please, to ideas and issues.

And yes, women do have different discourses. Check the literature. You've heard about it for years, now read something. And remember: simply saying something isn't true doesn't make it untrue.

Lastly, men's and women's differential financial status does, indeed, have an impact on their ability to raise funds and finance a campaign. To assert otherwise in the face of thoroughly documented, valid statistical evidence indicates ignorance (lack of knowledge) piled upon ignorance (willful refusal to learn).

Women don't have the resources that men have, and are bound to lose nominations.

Raj Sihota in Hastings sure proves this theory wrong. Never before has a candidate been supported in such a partisan way by NDP staff. Raj got every resource available from the party and from labour. She had months, even years to organize. She had countless volunteers. But she came third, because she wasn't the best candidate and the Provincial Office/Neil Moncton crowd alienated more support than they gained with their superior haughty attitudes.

It's not a question of resources. It's a question of who can best connect with the members.

There is a problem if women are running and winning.

1) Is there a systemic anti-female biasis in the NDP? I do not believe that.

2) Are women simply not as competent as men? I do not believe that.

SO why the shortage of women wanting to run and furthermore the even lower number that manage to get the nomination?

I will argue that this is wider and more insidous societal systemic problem.

Women tend to approahc issues and politics somewhat differently. The testerone driven confrontational mannner of men is not the way most women I know approach anything. They are as good as men at what they do, they just choose a less confrontational manner. The NDP has created a confrontational nomination process and that by nature favours men to win.

Most women that have kids do end up with a break in their career or 2-10 years right at the time they should be getting the prominence to be a 'star' in politics. In the case of my wife, she is seeing the problem of having chosen to stay home with kids in her career now - she is not getting jobs that men with less skills but more recent job experience are getting. I suspect it will take her a number of years to catch up with the pack, and who knows how long to get ahead of it. Most women I know are ready to get into politics ten years older than an equivilant man. Society still discriminates implicitly against women that choose to have children and take time out of their career to raise them.

All political parties need to address this issue, but if the NDP is the voice of progressive politics, it needs to develop a nomination process that would allow a 40 year old mother of young kids a real chance to defeat a 35 year old male lawyer.

Bernard

ps Maybe there should he a generational ban on any lawyers and anyone that has ever been a paid worker or political aid for a party from being allowed to run for office, give all the rest of the population a chance to have some say. \

While you might think that I am joking, I am half serious. Lawyers are trained to be confrontational and not seek soultions, their skill set is in direct opposition to the skills needed to govern well.

Huh? Are you on crack?!

Dear John English:
Nice try, but don't try to misrepresent my earlier post to boost your partisan ego and bashing of Carole. I clearly suggested that it was a collective lack of leadership by many across the NDP that was contributing the the lack of women/star candidates problem, and NOT the fault of Carole herself (as I explicitly noted).

Carole is relatively new to the party establishment/leadership, and has, I suspect, been getting bad advice from many others (who's share of the blame is arguably greater) to stay completely out of the candidate search process.

However, the BC Liberal approach to reaching out to women, minorities, and other diverse communities is even more depressing - a complete joke and insult. Surrey-Panorama anyone? Half-hearted pandering with Patty Sahota? Not the real-Deputy Premier Shirley Bond?

Carole James would still make a far better Premier than Gordo or any of the "leading" BC Libs any day!

Hey, "the_truth_may hurt/back_to _the_real_issue/shitdetector", or whatever you are calling yourself this minute. Get over your obsession with your mysterious, phantom Neil Monckton/Provincial Office/downtown/funky/latte/COPE lite whateveryoucall them "cabal"? I mean, next you'll be pointing out how this mysterious group plotted to gun down JFK??

You are clearly have a viscous ideological and personal vendetta against/obsession with Mr. Monckton, and others, but you really need to learn to get over it! Trying to constantly divert every issue back to your little "cabal" is really tired.

While many people in many party circles know each other; dare I say might even socialize together from time to time, and (gasp!) share some view on some political issues - it's hardly a cabal buddy. No more than the red-banner commies of Old COPE or parts of the old NDP are a "cabal".

Issues such as getting good candidates, or ensuring a representative slate including women, are actually REAL issues, more so than your personal/ideological obsessions!

And for the record:
1) While Neil Monckton was a supporter of Raj Sihota in Hastings, but he was not in any way a leading figure in Raj Sihota's unsuccessful nomination campaign. And
2) Far from having any "attitude" problems, Raj and her campaign were a positive, fun, and open bunch that ran a positive, high-road campaign that avoided the nasty pandering and negative whispering tactics of some other campaigns.
3) Provincial office staff and other leading folks in the Party (from Joy, Jenny and Libby, to front-line Provincial Office staff), did absolutely nothing to help Raj in her nomination bid.

Shane won - fair and square; and Raj lost - fair and square. No cabal conspiracies there. Get over yourself.

"You might also try to allow people to hold a different view than yours as to who the better candidate is, there are many, many people who do not happen to agree with you..."

Hmm, well I guess the question should be asked then, where were they, because as the nomination meeting bore out, there were more supporters and votes for Chuck there then there were for Steve, thus the reason Chuck won. As for mudslinging, campaigning by telling people that Chuck had withdrawn from the race, 2 days prior to the nomination meeting, when the fact remained that he didn't, and just the overall viciousness of the nomination campaign, well I would seriously beg to differ that Steve is the better candidate. I too have bus loads of people that would agree with that assertion. There's a fine line between mudslinging and being blunt I guess. Fact is the nomination in New West has been decided, and it was very acrimonious. It didn't have to be, but Steve's people in my view turned it that way.

But rather than fight amongst ourselves, post nomination, people should keep the bigger picture in mind. And if you happen to disagree with Chuck, I'm sure that there are other candidates that you can work for. That's what I was prepared to do. But as for dirty laundry, I don't think this is the proper forum to wash it.

As to the lack of woman candidates, I believe Paul Willcocks pointed out on the Rafe Mair show that the numbers have been in a steady decline since the early 90s, that is the number of woman getting involved in politics, from all sides of the spectrum. It could be that more and more woman are professionally engaged in employment, and don't want to extend themselves into the political arena, or perhaps theres that cynicism that exists of the legislative process, and the gong show that some times goes on in there. Some people see it as theatre of the absurd, rather than good government. And as another poster related, the nomination process is decades old. Much like our electoral system.

to new west resident
the nomination contest is over so stop the mudslinging.

Of course, that's the spin NOW: Provincial Office staff did nothing for Raj Sihota. Yeah. Right. Ditto for Neil Moncton. He wasn't involved either. Sure.

But if she'd have won, theyd all be taking credit right now.

Thanks for your spin from the COPE-lite crowd though. Always a fun read!

As someone who is not a supporter of the NDP I have just one thing to say about all the infighting amongst New Democrats being played out on these boards:

Whooo Hoooo!

For the very first time I agree with John English. Those of you who claim to be New Democrats need to take these battles into a different forum or better yet, stop fighting past nominations and get on with the business at hand.

Actually, as a New Democrat who doesn't live in the Lower Mainland, I'm actually encouraged by the infighting. It shows that the party is diverse, and that not all New Democrats are like those annoying geeks in Vancouver.

The day Adriane Carr joins the NDP is the day I move out to Alberta. Adriane Carr is the best thing to happen to Eoc-Politics out there, she has led the Greens to their greatest ever election to date, why would she jump from a ship that has yet to sail to one that is in the process of sinking ?

In the same way the Liberals replaced the Socreds, the Greens will replace the NDP, not this year, but by the time the Olympics roll around there will still only be two main parties in this province and it wont include the NDP.

The day Adriane Carr joins the NDP is the day I put big ol' Gordon Campbell sign on my lawn. Jaheezus Christ, what a freak!

I have been trying not to enter this debate. But I have gotten too irritated to leave it.

By dismissing this as a "sour grapes/Raj lost" argument, you are completely losing the overall issue.

1) MANY very credible, well-liked women candidates have lost to male competitors. This is not simply about Judy Darcy and Raj Sihota OR the lower mainland, you insular folk. Try looking north of Hope for once. Try Molly Eichar, Alice Stoddard or Sarah Hilbert-West.

2)If you say, "who?," then you should give your head a shake and do some research prior to sounding off about how Christy Clark and Joy MacPhail were name candidates and recruited to run. PLuuuEASE! Christy was a total political hack. Joy had to fight for her nom.

3) We would have been lucky to have Molly, Alice, Sarah, etc as MLAs. I know Molly and Sarah and I met Alice once. As far as I can tell, the local members totally blew it. Because they can't see the overall picture. They don't think about what the caucus will look like or the cabinet. They'd rather vote for the political opportunist type. I'll leave it at that.

4) By attacking candidates who lost, all you are doing is ensuring that they never, ever make that attempt again. Why would they? Let's berate any political aspirations out of them, destroy their morale completely, and keep them in their place. Apparently so.

5) By practicing revisionist history, you lose the lesson. The party culture prevails, the members vote for who looks to them most like a politician, in their limited view, and we have a caucus of white guys implementing what they think is balanced policy. Lucky us.

No, "Sigh" is not my real name. Because, like the hypocrite I am, I don't believe in airing dirty laundry on the internet! But, I am from outside LM.


Adrianne Carr NDP.... thats the day I walk out of the party myself. And Ian, if the Green Party were actually the Green Party that people associate with in Europe and Australia, you perhaps wouldn't be so far off base.

But once again, they're not. The Green Party of Canada, seceded itself from the worldwide Green movement. Instead, you have a party who's environmental policy reads about the same as the NDP. But beyond proportional representation and the environment, what do the greens have??? And before John English, Kevin, and the multitudes of my other fans come out and start assailing the NDP currently for not releasing a platform (have yet to see the Liberal one either btw), at least in the Libs (socreds, conservatives, libs etc) you know you've got a decidedly centre right to right wing approach, and with the NDP you've got a decidedly centre left, left wing approach.

But with less than 100 days to the election, other than this one posting from Mr. Gregson, has anyone heard anything from the Greens??? Sheesh, they've had 4 years to overtake the NDP. In 2001, the NDP were vulnerable, right for the picking, a ship without a rudder even. Decimated electorally to just 2 seats. But its funny that Adrian Carr couldn't capitalize on it. I think that the BCMDM might have a better chance in 5 to 10 years then the Greens, under Adrian Carr's leadership. But one mistake they did make was going for instant house representation with the phantom butt pincher... Ms Brenzinger. But then again, I suppose its one more MLA than the Greens have right now. So I guess they're already ahead in the game.

Ian, a piece of advice for the upcoming election, should you decide to run. Remember back to Fall School at SFU and the stories you shared. I personally couldn't stop laughing about some of the stuff for 2 days afterwards. Hopefully, in the fall of 05, you'll have some more follies and foibles to share with us all. Good luck to you.

Adrianne Carr is awful. All she has done is help the Liberals. Her party stands for nothing and she is a complete lightweight. I wish her the worst of luck in the next election. I hope she loses badly. The NDP should help destroy the Green party by volunteering the COPE/Moncton crowd to organize for them. That'd be the final nail in any political party.

Hey Kegler

We travel in small circles, you must be referring to the CLC campaign school, I learned a lot from that one. First time running stories are always fun, I hope to have a few more for you next time :-)

The federal Greens are somewhat of an entity to themselves. I'm sure they are still part of the global Green movement since they do share the 10 core values all Green Parties share. There is far less of an overlap with the provincial and federal Greens, we are on the same page on a few things because of those 10 core values.

I don't think it would have been the right thing for Ms Carr to attempt some kind of coup with the NDP. The NDP and Greens are two totally different parties. We did ask for some co-operation on several occasions however there was no sign of it from MacPhail and only on the electoral reform issue with James. As long as the NDP definition of cooperation is handing us an NDP membership form then it ain't ever gonna happen.

As for the Greens not showing themselves in the last 4 years. We were at 18% in 2003, we are back down to 12% now, this is the same level we were in 2001. The media are ignoring us which is exactly what they did prior to the first poll in 2001. This first poll had me at 22% and Libs at 24%, then the attention came thick and fast. My guess is the next IPSOS Reid Poll will be important as how much attention we get. We are flying under the media radar in Vancouver right now, but not in the rest of the province.

As for Adriane's qualities as a leader I will put her up against James and Campbell any day in a tv debate. Look for the Greens to also run more women than both the Libs and NDP.

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