Ottawa Election Primer: Breaking the Gender Barrier

Democracy is not easy 1There has been a lot of discussion on breaking the gender barrier at Ottawa City Hall with the results of the October 22ndelection.  Currently the council table has four female councillors.  With Marianne Wilkinson retiring the number of female councillors could drop to 3 if no others are elected.  This seems to be very unlikely as there are a number of wards where very strong female candidate are seeking a seat at the table.

Let’s address the one seat that in 2018 will not be filled by a woman, the Mayors chair.  Ottawa will have to wait four years to see if a woman will run for Mayor in 2022.  One name that continues to rise to the conversation is Diane Deans.  If Diane Deans wins re-election next week, 2022 might be the year she officially throws her hat in the ring to replace Jim Watson who I believe will not seek a fourth consecutive term as Ottawa’s Mayor.

In 2018 there is a good opportunity to double the count of women councillors to 8. Here is a run down of what could happen, this post will look at the 23 ward seats only.

The sure bets

Seats in Barrhaven, Somerset are a guaranteed win for incumbents Jan Harder and Catherine McKenney.  An almost sure bet is Diane Deans in Gloucester-Southgate. With these three the count is 3/3 for women councillors.

Guaranteed to have a man in the seat

The following wards will elect a male councillor (because there are no women candidates); Stittsville, Knoxdale-Merivale, Beacon Hill-Cyrville, Rideau Vanier, Rideau Rockcliffe, Kitchissippi, Rideau Goulbourn and Kanata South.  The council table now has 3/11 women councillors around it.

Likely to elect a woman councillor

There are wards that will likely elect a woman. Here I am going to lean towards a positive outcome for the ladies in a tight race.  Innes Ward has three female candidates.  No offence to Francois Trepenier, the three other women candidates are much stronger than he is.  In Ward 22, Gloucester-South Nepean, I don’t see voters passing on Carol Anne Meehan, she should get elected.  We are now up to 5/13 seats having a female councillors.

Likely to elect a male councillor

There a few wards where I expect to have a man elected, where there are female candidates running.  The elected will come from West Carleton-March, Capital, Alta Vista, Cumberland and Osgoode Wards.  The ratio drops to 5/18 with 5 wards left to look at.

Expect to elect a male councillor here

Even with good female candidates running, a male will represent these wards; College and River with the incumbents being re-elected giving council a 5/20 female/male ratio.

I think woman will have a good chance to be elected in these three wards

In Orleans with 17 candidates running, Catherine Kitts is the top woman candidate and she would be a good selection for voters in that ward if the voters wanted a woman councillor.  Kanata North has a 3-way race for the seat; Jenna Suds has as good a chance as David Gourlay and Matt Muirhead to win there.  The final female councillor will come from Bay Ward where Theresa Kavanagh will win the seat her husband Alex Cullen held a few terms ago. With these three ladies, City Council will double the number of female candidates from 4/23 to 8/23 (I have not included the Mayors chair).

With more female candidates, I expect decisions to be made differently.  Committees will also have a different make up which will change how they operate as well. The 8/23 is not 50-50 but it is a good start to smashing the glass ceiling that has been at Ottawa City Council since amalgamation in 2001.

I’ll have one more pre-election blog post on the Ottawa election posted before October 22nd with my look at the new council and who I believe will be sitting around it.

Thank you for reading #RedHeartBlueSign, to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. I can be found Twitter @robertdekker,@rdmediaottawaand on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

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