We have watched the unfolding of Jody Wilson-Raybould’s dismissal from the Liberal caucus with dismay, but with a lack of surprise. This is another case of one step forward, two steps back for a woman in leadership. As women, we are all too familiar with the ways that Wilson-Raybould has been undermined as she strove to tell her truth about how the events unfolded. We hear the dog-whistle sexism as both former caucus colleagues and media describe her as difficult to work with and accuse her of being too ambitious for her own good. When pointing out the sexism and racism that is so deeply entrenched in this case, we’re accused of making everything about identity politics.
However, if we don’t address our biases toward gender and race, nothing will ever change.
And then we look at the independent MPs. This is the only caucus where Indigenous people and people of colour are overrepresented. The reason for them sitting as independents is illuminating: three of the four men have been accused of sexually inappropriate behaviour and removed from their parties, but not from their position of power. The three women stand accused of speaking truth to power. They are there because their own parties fear their power, integrity, and strength.
When Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appointed the first gender-balanced cabinet, he stated that it was “because it’s 2015.”
We’re calling for true feminist leadership that values diverse experiences, identities, and opinions and does not fear having its own flaws daylighted, but welcomes it in order to grow, change and become stronger. Feminist leadership is more than speaking nice words about women’s rights - it centres the voices of women and equity seeking groups. Feminist leadership admits fault and listens. Because, after all, it’s 2019.
Trudi Goels, New Westminster