Kathleen Wynne on women and opportunity

This morning, Kathleen Wynne, Ontario’s premier-designate spoke at a news conference. Her remarks on women jumped out at me:

I don’t know if any of you remember, or have seen my maiden speech, where I talked about coming to the legislature, I felt that I had a responsibility to represent all of my constituents, but that I had some special responsibilities, and I talked about young moms, who might have been at home listening, and having their little kids and thinking “how am I ever going to do the things with my life that I want to do” and I said I can be an example, because I had three little kids, and I was receiving faxes and doing laundry at the same time, with one on my hip, and that doesn’t mean that at some point you can’t have a bigger life.

But I also said that I had a special responsibility to young, gay people who might be looking for the possibility that there might be a more accepting world somewhere. I’m not a gay activist — that’s not how I got in to politics, so I’m not going to spend the next — I’m talking about it today because you’ve asked about it, but I’m not going to spend the next months talking about this. But it is important to me that young people, and people who are frightened, see the possibilities, and that if I can help people to be less frightened, then that’s a wonderful wonder thing.

But for me the really historic thing, and this is the battle I’ve been fighting since I was five years old and went to kindergarten and realized I wasn’t expected to play with the blocks because I was a girl. For me, the fact there are six female premiers across the country — that’s huge. That’s a huge, huge thing. We’ve wondered about why we haven’t had a higher percentage of women in legislatures and in parliament. Well, maybe we’re reaching a critical mass and maybe now it will just be whether you’ve got what it takes to get your name on a ballot and whether you can win in a riding as opposed to whether you’re male or female. Maybe this will make a difference.

Pauline Marois has already reach out to me. I don’t know who else has, but I’m looking forward to talking with all of them and I think the conversation at that table of premiers will be very interesting, and I look forward to chairing that meeting.

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