Leadership Candidates on Gender Equity – NDP

On January 28, 2018, BPW Saskatoon asked each Saskatchewan NDP leadership candidate to respond to the following questions:



Gender Equity in leadership positions is still a far cry from where it needs to be. According to a comprehensive literature review by Corinne Post and Kris Byron, management professors at Lehigh and Syracuse universities, covered in Fast Company in January 2015. The professors reviewed an exhaustive 140 studies that covered 90,000 firms from 35 countries between 1989 and 2014. The bottom line, as Fast Company’s Lindsay Lavine put it: “Overall, when women are on boards, companies are more profitable.” Study author Post told Lavine that women directors bring their diverse perspectives to the boardroom, and that they’re “more inclusive in their communications and interactions with others.”

What are you prepared to do to support increasing gender balance in leadership positions in general and on boards in particular?



According to Catalyst Canada, a nonprofit organization that focuses on expanding opportunities for women and business, Canadian women earn $0.82 to every $1 earned by men. That’s marginally better than the U.S.’s $0.78 for every $1, but sets the gap in Canada at 18 per cent — much higher than in other countries, specifically in Europe.

“The global pay gap was about $4,000 on average between men and women, and the Canadian pay gap was just over $8,000,” Alex Johnston, executive director of Catalyst Canada, told the Globe and Mail.

What will you do to address the gender pay gap?



Polling shows that women care about different issues. The United Nations says that a critical mass of at least 30% women is needed before legislatures produce public policy representing women’s concerns and before political institutions begin to change the way they do business.

What will you do to increase women’s representation in politics?


As of February 19, 2018 BPW Saskatoon has received responses from two Saskatchewan NDP candidates: Trent Wotherspoon and Ryan Meili.

We sent the same questions to Saskatchewan Party leadership candidates ahead of their leadership election. Read their responses >>



Received from Trent Wotherspoon on February 14.
Read Wotherspoon’s responses as submitted on his official letterhead (PDF).


1. What are you prepared to do to support increasing gender balance in leadership positions in  general and on boards in particular?

One of the few areas where the Sask. Party has made progress in advancing the role of women in our province has been through their use of the board appointments process. Currently, half of directors on the boards of our major Crown Corporations are women – and that’s a good thing. I would look to continue having gender-balanced boards of directors for our Crowns, and I would work to make sure that we have gender balance at all of the important decision-making tables within the provincial government, including agencies, boards, commissions, and the cabinet table.


2. What will you do to address the gender pay gap?

I have committed to passing pay equity legislation in our province as a first order of business upon forming government. This is something that should have been done years ago, but passing this important legislation will be a priority for me as premier.
Another important way government can help to address the gender pay gap is to increase the rate of unionization in the workplace. Over the last 10 years, the Sask. Party has undermined workers’ rights and made it more and more difficult for workers to organize. Rolling back these unfair provisions will make it easier for workers to join a union, which will play a significant part in reducing the pay gap faced by women in our province.


3. What will you do to increase women’s representation in politics?

As noted in a previous answer, I’m committed to gender balance in my cabinet if given the honour to serve as premier. I’ve witnessed the impact that gender balance has in how decisions are made as a member of our gender-balanced team of NDP MLAs. It’s clear that the only way we can increase the
representation of women in our legislature is to nominate and elect more women, and I’m committed to doing just that. I have a history of supporting women to enter the democratic process and this is very important to me.

As Leader of the Saskatchewan New Democratic Party, I would continue to support strong leaders within our caucus team in coordination with the Saskatchewan New Democratic Women and by supporting improved rules for nomination contests.

Thank you for your thoughtful questions on these issues that are important for women all across our province. I am hopeful to work as a partner with you to deliver progress and action for women in Saskatchewan. Please stay in touch, I would value the chance to meet with our organization.



Trent Wotherspoon
Saskatchewan NDP Leadership Candidate



Received from Ryan Meili on February 19.


Question 1
What are you prepared to do to support increasing gender balance in leadership positions in general and on boards in particular?
Equality is at the heart of a healthy society, and systemic inequality between men and women hurts us all. Evidence has shown that improved status of women is inextricably linked with poverty reduction, economic growth and social development of society as a whole. Achieving gender equality is not only the right thing to do. It is also the smart thing to do.

There is no prescription to bring about greater equality; there is only a process. That process begins with changing the conversation about gender, recognizing that everyone benefits when the status of women improves. Rather than gender neutral (which tends to mean gender blind), policy decisions need to be made with an explicit gender lens and a commitment to gender equality in mind, from idea to implementation to evaluation.

To address the historical and ongoing inequality faced by women, we need to not only invite women’s active participation at all levels of decision-making. We also need to revisit our decision-making processes to ensure that our governance structures encourage the inclusive, collaborative approach that makes space for all voices. Programs specifically tailored to the promotion of equality, capacity-building, and full participation of women and girls in civic life will make our institutions more inclusive, responsive, and collaborative.


What will you do to address the gender pay gap?

As Premier I would introduce pay equity legislation in the first term of an NDP government. Saskatchewan is one of only three provinces that lacks such legislation. A 2004 Canadian Department of Justice report gave recommendations for national proactive pay equity legislation that applies to all people. These recommendations have been ignored at the federal level, but could easily be enacted here in Saskatchewan.

I would also top up paid maternity leave, similar to how Quebec does, to 70 percent for the first 18 weeks of maternity leave, 8 weeks of parental leave, and 5 weeks of paternity leave, and add in paid sick days, recognizing that it’s not fair that someone’s job be at risk because they are ill or need to care for a family member.
What will you do to increase women’s representation in politics?

There remains a wide gender gap in the political sphere, with Canada ranking 45th for the number of women in Parliament. In Saskatchewan, women make up 50 percent of the population yet occupy only 26% of the seats in the Legislature. The picture is better when we look at the federal NDP, where women comprise 40% of the federal NDP caucus. However, within Saskatchewan, and in particular in the NDP, we can and must do better to promote equal legislative representation from women.

We can and should:

  • Expand the Saskatchewan NDP’s “candidate school” initiative to reach not just successful nominees, but also prospective nominees, executive members, and other party activists, with a particular focus on participation from women and members of equity-seeking groups. This would result in smoother nomination races, a larger pool of talent, and an opportunity for mentorship from women and men in caucus to foster the involvement of the next generation of women leaders. Hiring a dedicated organizer for the Saskatchewan New Democratic Women (SNDW) with a focus on recruitment and training of potential candidates would facilitate this process.
  • Adopt the Federal NDP’s equity-seeking candidate rule, which requires that there be at least one equity-seeking candidate in a race before a nominating convention can happen.
  • Both to attract new candidates, and improve the experience of those who are elected, we need to make sure that the legislature is a supportive and fulfilling environment, with child care, children-friendly meeting space, retreats and skill-building courses, and anti-oppression training for all members to enhance equity in the day-to-day operations of the caucus.
  • As has been shown in Manitoba, more female candidates can be key to electoral success. Using some of the approaches above can move us closer to equality and to government. Ultimately, however, this is not just a numbers game, it’s about creating the best representative democracy. This means creating a positive political space for female politicians to enact policies that reflect the needs identified by women. Leading the way by developing a platform with innovative policies that demonstrate the NDP’s commitment to gender equality will go a long way to attracting more female candidates, and to actually achieving gender equality.


Achieving gender equality requires renewed effort and intensified political will. Keeping gender equality front-of-mind in policy development and in the democratic process are key to building a healthy society.