Gender equity measure passes at BC NDP annual convention


VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – The BC NDP has reaffirmed a measure at its annual convention in Vancouver that it hopes will increase the representation of women in the Victoria legislature.

Party Leader Adrian Dix says as of the 2013 provincial election, elected female NDP MLAs who retire will only be able to be replaced with another woman. Male MLAs who retire will have to be replaced with either a woman or a member of an equity-seeking group, such as a member of a First Nation.

“This won’t be a large number of seats, because I’m expecting almost all the NDP incumbents to run again in the next election, so it’s going to affect only those seats where incumbents retire,” Dix explains.

The Opposition leader says although the rule is controversial, it is meant to compensate for real barriers that prevent women from getting their fair share of political seats. Only 27 per cent of BC MLAs elected in the last election are women, according to the national pro-gender equity organization Equal Voice.

“Some of those barriers are economic, some of those barriers are with respect to fundraising, and I think we’re taking steps to move beyond that,” says Dix. “You look at the women we’ve nominated for the next election and they’re just terrific.”

The New Democrats already had several affirmative action policies in place before this weekend’s meeting at the Vancouver Convention Centre, such as a policy that among the provincial party’s leader, president and treasurer, at least one must be a woman. Also, among its 16 representatives from eight regions, each region must have at least one woman representative.

The convention also saw former MLA Moe Sihota re-elected as party president.

On Saturday, all nine federal NDP leadership candidates faced off at the Convention Centre in their first debate in western Canada.

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