Eight years ago, Americans made history by electing the country’s first black president in Barack Obama. And they may be on the verge of doing so again this coming Tuesday if they choose to elect Hillary Clinton as the first woman to occupy the Oval Office.
The world has seen other female leaders, of course, with Britain’s Margaret Thatcher and Germany’s Angela Merkel immediately springing to mind, not to mention Golda Meir in Israel and Indira Gandhi in India.
Here in Canada, Kim Campbell became Canada’s first (and so far only) female prime minister when she succeeded Brian Mulroney as leader of the federal Progressive Conservative party in June, 1993. But she wasn’t actually elected by Canadians and her tenure at 24 Sussex Dr. proved to be short-lived as the PCs were reduced to just two seats when Jean Chrétien’s Liberals swept to power in November of that year.
Current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau ushered in gender parity to his first cabinet—because “it’s 2015,” as he famously said at the time. Whether that translates into Canadians electing a female prime minister anytime soon remains to be seen.
The Liberals have never had a female leader—and Mr. Trudeau certainly seems to be entrenched in the job for the foreseeable future.
Kellie Leitch, meanwhile, is the only women so far seeking to become leader of the Conservative Party, although Lisa Raitt is mulling a run, as well. The NDP has had female leaders in the past in Audrey McLaughlin and Alexa McDonough, but no woman has stepped forward yet in the race to replace Thomas Mulcair at the helm next year (Megan Leslie and Niki Ashton certainly are possible candidates).
The real goal, though, is to no longer need to have this conversation. To see the day when someone running to be prime minister isn’t judged on their gender, ethnic or religious background, or sexual orientation but on whether they’re the best person for the job.
That’s when we’ll be a truly equal society.