Opinion: Shifting the focus of provincial politics coverage

by | Feb 23, 2018 | Canadian News, Opinion

Christina Zisko

The past few months have been an interesting time for women in Ontario politics.

On the one hand, three women are running for leadership of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party. Yet, on the other hand, the news is saturated with stories of male politicians being accused and investigated of sexual assaults.

We have heard multiple stories of alleged sexual misconduct within the last few weeks.

Rick Dykstra, the president of the Ontario PC, is being accused of sexual assault by a parliamentary staffer.

Liberal MP Kent Hehr has resigned as the sports and disability minister pending an investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct.

Jamie Baillie, the Nova Scotia PC leader, was forced to resign his position in late January in the face of sexual harassment allegations.

Saskatchewan NDP MP Erin Weir has been suspended from his caucus while an investigation continues. Further the party’s national convention opened with apology to women staffers for past harassment or discrimination.

Perhaps the most notable of all is the resignation of Patrick Brown, the former Ontario PC leader. He gave up his position Jan. 24 after two women came forward with claims of sexual misconduct which haven’t been proven in court.

While these stories undoubtedly deserve media attention, why can’t we hear more stories of women being strong and independent?

It seems that screen time is given to stories that show women as victims far more often than as victors.

Instead of waking up every morning to Patrick Brown’s face on television, I’d really like to see more of Caroline Mulroney or Christine Elliot or Tanya Granic Allen.

These three women are running for a prestigious position in Ontario politics.

Just think about it, women only got the vote in Ontario in 1917. It was probably unfeasible back then to have, let along think about, three strong female candidates would be running for leadership of a provincial political party.

In even more exciting news, if one of these three women is elected, this will be the very first time in history that all three major political parties in Ontario will be led by women.

Regardless of political views, this is an amazing fact that deserves more recognition and should be celebrated and discussed in the media.

Instead of dedicating so much time wondering whether or not the Patrick Brown allegations are true, it would be nice to see a little bit more attention on these amazing potential “firsts” in provincial politics.

Brown has recently put his name in the running for the position he either resigned or was ousted from.

While he can take his name in and out of the leadership race 100 times, it simply does not hold a candle to the strides being made by the women running against him.

This is not to say that allegations of sexual assault are unworthy of media attention.

To be able to shed light on injustices against women in politics, Hollywood, or any other place is definitely worthwhile.

Until recently, discussing sexual assault was taboo, but times have changed and attention being given to these stories may lead to even more victims stepping forward and receiving support.

But wouldn’t stories about women in leadership positions, especially in male dominated fields, also lead to positive change in the area of gender equality?

Stories of sexual assault allegations are scandalous, and are sure to capture the attention of the public, which is why they are so heavily focused on by the media.

I like to believe the public would also be interested in what could potentially be a historic election, and a huge victory for women in Ontario.