The Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF) signed a letter to Prime Minister Trudeau urging him to ensure that the new process of selecting nominees to the Senate of Canada results in a gender-equal Senate.

Download Press Release HERE

Download Letter in French HERE

Campaign for an Equal Senate for Canada

December 21, 2015

The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, P.C., M.P. Prime Minister of Canada
House of Commons
Ottawa Ontario K1A0A6

Dear Prime Minister,

We are writing to urge you to ensure that the new process of selecting nominees to the Senate of Canada results in a gender-equal Senate.

We applaud you for appointing women to hold half of your cabinet positions, thereby creating the first gender-equal federal cabinet in Canadian history. We call on you now to extend this principle to appointments to the Senate of Canada.

Your new process for selecting Senators outlines several qualifications that the new Advisory Board will consider when compiling lists of candidates to fill Senate vacancies. In addition to age, residency, independence, non-partisanship, and other requirements, “Nominees will be considered with a view to achieving gender balance in the Senate”. This qualification, while positive, does not ensure, or even necessarily imply, gender equality.

Currently, of the 83 sitting Senators, 30 are women, thus comprising 36 percent of the Senate. To achieve gender equality as soon as possible, the 22 current vacancies should be filled by women from diverse backgrounds, including Indigenous women, women from minority linguistic, racial and ethnic communities, and others, consistent with the Senate’s role in minority representation. This would achieve the result of a Senate that is 50 percent female and more representative of Canada. This is an historic opportunity. Future appointees would include both women and men in equal numbers.

It is important to note that the 2015 federal election resulted in a House of Commons that is only 26 percent female. With this poor showing, Canada ranks a dismal 48th in the world in terms of female representation. Women’s voices are vastly under-represented in our most important institution of government.

Your proposal to create a Senate which is independent and non-partisan has the potential of increasing the importance of this institution in the governing of Canada. This makes it even more important that women be fairly and equally represented.

Why? Because it is 2015!

Thank you very much.

Donna Dasko, Ph.D.
Co-Founder and Past National Chair, Equal Voice

Ceta Ramkhalawansingh
Former City of Toronto Councillor, and former Equity and Diversity Manager, City of Toronto

On behalf of the
Campaign for an Equal Senate for Canada
[email protected]
647 282 5727 (cell)
[email protected]
416 593 2601 (res)

Hon. Maryam Monsef, Minister of Democratic Institutions
Hon. Patty Hajdu, Minister of Status of Women
Hon. Jody Wilson-Raybould, Minister of Justice and Attorney General for Canada
Hon. Dominic LeBlanc, Leader of the Government in the House of Commons
Attach/ List of signatories

Signatories to the letter for An Equal Senate for Canada

Zanana L. Akande, Community Advocate, Educator, former Ontario Cabinet Minister
Kay Armatage, Professor Emerita, University of Toronto
Isabel Armatage, retired businesswoman
The Hon. Jean Augustine, P.C., Former Minister of State of Status of Women Gail Asper, O.C., O.M., LL.D President, The Asper Foundation Sally Armstrong, Journalist Constance Backhouse, Professor of Law, University of Ottawa
Sylvia Bashevkin, Professor of Political Science, University of Toronto
The Honourable Dr. Marion Boyd, former Attorney General of Ontario
The Hon. Sarmite D. Bulte, P.C, former MP
Lesley Byrne, Ph.D. Past Chair, Equal Voice Toronto
The Right Hon. Kim Campbell, P.C., C.C., O.B.C., Q.C., former Prime Minister of Canada
Louise Carbert, Associate Professor Political Science, Dalhousie University
Barbara Caplan, retired City Clerk, City of Toronto
Elinor Caplan, former federal and provincial cabinet minister
Denise Carpenter, ICD.D. Corporate Director
Nancy Coldham, Founder, CriticalMass Women Inc
Penny Collenette, Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa
The Hon. Sheila Copps, O.C., former Deputy Prime Minister of Canada
Fiona Crean, Ombudsman, Hydro One
Cathy Crowe, Street Nurse and Housing Advocate
Suzanne Depoe, Literary Agent
Debbie Douglas, Executive Director, OCASI – Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants
Linda Silver Dranoff, C.M., Lawyer and Author
Margrit Eichler, Professor Emerita, University of Toronto, FRSC
Gabrielle Gallant
Kiloran German, President, Sage Communications, Halifax
Sheila Gervais, Former National Director, Liberal Party of Canada
Kamala-Jean Gopie O. Ont.
Tam Goossen, former public school trustee and past president of Urban Alliance on Race Relations. Katherine Govier, Novelist and Director of The Shoe Project Elizabeth Gray, retired journalist/broadcaster
Sonja Greckol, Author
Beth Haddon, Journalist and former broadcast executive
Valerie Hussey C.M., former publisher
Narmin Ismail-Teja, Director, WMC
Prabha Khosla, Cities and Gender specialist and Founding Member,
Riverdale Immigrant Women’s Centre
Sandra Kybartas
Françoise E. Lyon, Senior Vice President, Pembroke Private Wealth Management Ltd.
Marcia McClung
Sharon McGowan, Chair, Advocacy Committee, Women in Film and Television Vancouver and Associate Professor, Dept of Theatre and Film, University of British Columbia
Heather McGregor, CEO, YWCA Toronto
Isabel Metcalfe, Chair, Famous 5 Ottawa Anne Miner, President, The Dunvegan Group Velma Morgan, Equal Voice Toronto
Karen Mulhallen, Editor-in-Chief, Descant Magazine and Professor Emerita, Ryerson University
The Hon. Anita Neville, P.C., former M. P.
Jane O’Hara, Journalist
Ratna Omidvar, Executive Director, Ryerson University’s Global Diversity Exchange and Chair, Lifeline Syria
Diane O’Reggio, Executive Director, Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF)
Dr. Pamela D. Palmater, Associate Professor and Chair in Indigenous Governance, Ryerson University Phyllis Platt, Partner, PDM entertainment and former TV Executive Lara Popic, Ph.D. student
Coleen A. Quinn, Primary Health Care Practitioner
Judith Ramirez, Advocate for Domestic Workers Rights, Former Member, Immigration and Refugee Board
Linda M. Rapson, M. D.
Erica Rayment, Past Co-Chair, Equal Voice Toronto and Ph.D. student, University of Toronto
Deputy Mayor Andrea Reimer, City of Vancouver
Marilyn Roycroft, Chair, Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund Foundation (LEAF)
Senator Nancy Ruth, C.M.
Kara Santokie, Director, Toronto Women’s City Alliance
Rebecca Scott-Rawn, former Co-Chair, Equal Voice Toronto
Paulette Senior, CEO, YWCA Canada
Sonja Smits, Actress
Joan Simalchik, Program Coordinator, Women’s and Gender Studies; Associate Chair, Historical Studies, University of Toronto Mississauga
Melissa Sonberg, Executive in Residence/Adjunct Professor, Desautels Faculty of Management, McGill University
Michèle Stanners, Making Treaty 7
Eleanor Stebner, Chair, Dept. of Humanities & J.S. Woodsworth Chair, Simon Fraser University
Beth Symes, C. M., LSM Phyllis Tanaka, Past Co-Chair, Equal Voice Toronto
Susan Tanner, founding chair of LEAF, and member of Women for Nature, Nature Canada
Jessica Tomlin, Executive Director, The MATCH International Women’s Fund
Ange Valentini, Community Advocate
Anita Vandenbeld, M.P., Ottawa West-Nepean
Julie White, Activist and philanthropist
Janet Wiegand, Activist promoting women in politics and women and electoral reform
The Very Reverend The Hon. Lois M. Wilson, former Senator
Ellen Woodsworth, former Vancouver City Councillor. Founder of Women Transforming Cities International Society Frances Wright, Founder, Famous 5 Foundation Beverley Wybrow, C. M. Margot Young, Professor, Allard School of Law, University of British Columbia