Thank you to Melissa Durrell for asking me to speak about the Waterloo Region Women’s Municipal Campaign School at the Women’s March on Saturday, Jan 19,2019, instead of herself. Unfortunately, at the last minute, I was not allowed to speak. Here is my speech.
Waterloo Region Women’s Municipal Campaign School.
A week ago, the Honourable Bardish Chagger, House Leader and MP of the Riding of Waterloo, handed me her copy of the brochure for the very first Waterloo Region Women’s Municipal Campaign School on Sat. Nov 19, 2005. She was a member of the committee and a community volunteer.
Two of the outcomes of the day were to provide women with reasons why their presence is important in elected office, and increase the ways in which woman could support, run and/or mentor women in the 2006 municipal campaign. The outstanding keynote was a discussion by the Honourable Karen Redman MP, and Government Whip, now our Regional Chair, and Elizabeth Witmer,MPP and former Deputy Premier. None of us who were there will forget their honest and moving discussion about being a woman in politics.
With me as Chair, we moved on over the years with a campaign school before each municipal election with some success. The most notable was Waterloo Council in 2006 with half of the council and the Mayor being women. Other city councils increased from one to two women, five in the Region and more women school trustees. Then Waterloo council slipped back to less women. Wilmot Township never changed. It had been all men since 1973.
In 2018, the committee decided that the Campaign School needed to be bold. Our slogan: 50% women elected in 2018.
In January of last year, inspired by the millions of women marching in Washington and around the world in reaction to the election of Donald Trump and the defeat of Hilary Clinton in the United States, women marched for women in Waterloo Region. Inspired, a record number of women, 164, came to our first Campaign school day for the 2018 election. A record number of women went onto run and to win.
Waterloo Council once again has over 50 percent women. North Dumfries has over 50 percent women and Wilmot has 50 percent women after no women since 1973! Half of the municipal mayors and chair are women. Well over 50 percent of the trustees on the Waterloo Public Board are women.
We reached 48 percent women for the total of municipal councils. The last provincial election, 4 of the 5 MPPs for Waterloo Region were women. We should be proud of what we have done.
Many thanks to all the women politicians of Waterloo Region who spoke at or worked on the Campaign school over the years. Solidarity, even though some male politicians said they were grooming the competition. And many thanks to the women who have been part of the Waterloo Region Women’s Municipal Campaign School committee over the years, many of whom are now local, provincial and federal politicians. Could those who are here, both politicians and committee members wave. Let’s give them a cheer.
Our work is not done. Now is the time to participate ourselves with volunteering and advocacy against violence against women. Now is the time to support our women politicians.