Debate on women’s issues not a question of political convenience

Toronto Star

The last national leaders’ debate on women’s issues was the only national leaders debate on women’s issues in Canadian history.

It was held in 1984.

You can watch in all on the CBC archives — two hours of young women panelists grilling the three male party leaders on a podium shrouded in mustard-yellow.

Some 2,000 women who packed the audience of the Royal York Hotel room that day — big glasses, short hair, shiny idealism.

This was the first time the men vying for the job of prime minister had taken the time to deliberate, let alone address, issues traditionally considered feminine and therefore peripheral.

“This marks the creation of a new tradition,” National Action Committee on the Status of Women President Chaviva Hosek said in her introduction to the televised debate, “a tradition that now takes its natural place in the political process of Canada.”

That didn’t happen.

There were a handful of other national debates on women’s issues, but never with the political leaders. They sent their representatives, and women’s issues slid back under the rock of political neglect.

A broad group of organizations have decided it’s time for a rematch. They are calling their campaign, “Up For Debate.”