Push on for more female councillors

In a July/August, 2005 edition of “Forum,” the Canadian municipal government magazine, an article was written on the lack of female representatives in Canada’s local governments, showing an average of only 21.7 percent.
In fact, Ann MacLean, president of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, launched a campaign back in June to increase the number of women in municipal government.
But Emo resident Dr. Ingrid Krampetz doesn’t think women are reluctant to become involved in municipal politics locally, especially in the Township of Emo, where three of the four candidates who put their names forth to replace former Coun. Geoff Pearce were women.
Ed Carlson won the majority of the votes from council who voted by ballot in October. Dr. Krampetz, Tracy Grennier, and Gerd O’Sullivan were the other candidates.
Dr. Krampetz, along with two others, wrote a letter to Emo council expressing her concerns.
The letter stated the three women who ran against Carlson have volunteered for numerous local groups and have significant organizational experience.
It also noted two of the three candidates have extensive post-secondary training, including a nursing degree with a specialization in public health, an M.D., and a Ph.D..
“It seems incongruous, given these facts, that an attempt to close the gender gap [however temporarily] was not made at this opportune time,” the letter added.
Coun. Harri Sheloff currently is the only woman on Emo’s five-seat council.
Dr. Krampetz said women candidates are not looking for special treatment, but equal treatment.
“It’s important to include people with different points of view on council,” she argued, “And to have representatives from the wider community.”
She said she has nothing against Coun. Carlson, as he does have many excellent attributes and will “undoubtedly serve us well.”
“I just felt council was not recognizing that there are women with experience who are interested in local politics,” Dr. Krampetz added. “This would have been an excellent opportunity for a equally-qualified candidate to learn more about it over the year term.”
(The next municipal elections are scheduled for November, 2006).
Dr. Krampetz believes council’s decision was a unconscious move.
“Cultural traditions don’t let people think of a woman in a leadership role,” she remarked, noting this is not unique to Emo and she just wanted to make council aware of it.
She said her goal is not to have Coun. Carlson removed from his seat, but to encourage more women to get involved. “I just felt something needed to be said,” she stressed.
Dr. Krampetz said Emo council has not yet responded to her letter—and she doesn’t think they know how to respond.
Emo Reeve Russ Fortier agreed Monday there is a lack of women on council and would like to see more interest from the female gender.
“I had read the article before it was brought forward,” he noted, referring to the article in “Forum” magazine. “And we’ve always tried to get [women] involved.”
He said he would like more women to get involved and make a contribution to their community. “It makes for a nice balance,” he added.
Still, he noted sitting on council is time-consuming, and that many women are working or full-time moms, which is why they find it difficult to make the commitment.
“But if people know [these women] are ready to make that commitment, they’ll probably vote for [them],” Reeve Fortier concluded.
Dr. Krampetz said she will continue to do what she can to encourage others around the community to show interest in local politics.
“I put posters up around town to let people know when the council meetings are,” she noted, adding she always hopes someone else will attend along with her.
“Emo would benefit from having more women in power,” Dr. Krampetz reasoned. “I just don’t want the ones who are interested to feel discouraged because then they won’t come back.”
Dr. Krampetz also said she doesn’t want to cause a fuss—she wants it to be a positive thing.
“Maybe people will make an effort to change,” she said.
“Of course, with civic elections coming in November, 2006, the citizens of Emo will make their own decisions. Be prepared for a lively campaign!” the letter concluded.