Senate Seat

PEI Coalition for Women in Government encourages Island women to apply

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

How would you transform Canadian life if you could? Can you imagine yourself sitting as a Senator to be part of that transformation? Canadians are now welcome to act on their imaginings in a new way, by applying to be part of the Senate of Canada.

Applications for PEI's senate seat are now open, and the PEI Coalition for Women in Government encourages Island women to apply by August 4th. Prior to Catherine Callbeck's retirement from the Senate in 2014, half of PEI Senators were women. The under-representation of women in government means women and girls in PEI have fewer opportunities to see members of their gender represented in leadership roles. Given the consistently low percentage of women in government both provincially and federally, we celebrated that women were equally represented among PEI Senators.

Recently a number of men have put their names forward in a public way, to declare their intention to seek an appointment to the Senate. This might give the impression that interested applicants are expected to "campaign" for a Senate seat. However, under the new rules, applications will be assessed by an Independent Advisory Committee on a number of merit-based criteria, including personal qualities and knowledge. The composition of the Senate will consider gender balance, Indigenous representation, non-partisanship, and minority balance. We welcome the Independent Advisory Committee and merit-based appointment process because it removes some of the barriers present in past appointments and recognizes a diversity of experience.

Women might look at Catherine Callbeck's extraordinary contributions to public service, which made her an excellent candidate to represent PEI in the Senate and think they are not qualified. It's true that Catherine Callbeck's qualifications are hard to replicate – we've never had another woman premier after all. However, her efforts to advance women's leadership here have in part contributed to the strong pool of qualified women in PEI.

PEI's currently has one female senator, Senator Libbe Hubley. Sen. Hubley also distinguished herself as an elected politician before being appointed to Senate, but she offers an excellent example of how personal qualities and knowledge can make a difference. Her lifelong work as a dance instructor helped inspire the declaration of a National Fiddle Day in Canada. Her curiosity and desire to make the world a better place have led to important international work on eliminating landmines with the Canadian Landmine Foundation.

There are many strong and competent Island women ready to make a difference.

In order to return to gender parity among PEI Senators, we need to encourage Island women to put their names forward for consideration and we ask you to do the same. Do you know a woman who would make an excellent contribution to the Senate of Canada? If so, tell her about the application process, encourage her to apply, offer to be a reference. Overwhelming evidence indicates that increased diversity results in better decision-making. We are very hopeful that gender will be a priority in the appointment process.

Dawn Wilson
Executive Director PEI Coalition for Women in Government