Canada has only had ten women in the top job in our history and five of them are in power at the moment and three of them leading three of the four largest provinces. With the swearing in of Pauline Marois as Quebec premier on the 19th of September, 47.5% of Canadians are living in a province or territory with a female premier. If the Ontario Liberals choose either Kathleen Wynne or Sandra Pupatello as leader, this would mean we would have a sixth female premier.
Here is how they all stack up by time in office - bold means currently in office
- Eva Aariak Nunavut 1510 days
- Nellie Cournoyea NWT 1469 days
- Catherine Callbeck PEI 1353 days
- Pat Duncan Yukon 884 days
- Kathy Dunderdale NF 762 days
- Christy Clark BC 660 days
- Alison Redford Alberta 453 days
- Rita Johnson BC 217 days
- Kim Campbell Federal 132 days
- Pauline Marois Quebec 105 days
Doing that gives us this list:
Bold means currently in office, underlined means won an election
- Kim Campbell Fed 3,786,000,000 132 days PC
- Christy Clark BC 2,904,000,000 660 days Lib
- Alison Redford Ab 1,652,000,000 432 days PC
- Pauline Marois Que 830,000,000 105 days PQ
- Rita Johnson BC 715,500,000 217 days Socred
- Kathy Dunderdale Nf 393,000,000 762 days PC
- Catherine Callbeck PEI 149,000,000 1353 days Lib
- Nellie Cournoyea NWT 92,000,000 1469 days na
- Eva Aariak Nu 48,100,000 1510 days na
- Pat Duncan Yk 24,800,000 884 days Lib
Before October 11th 2011 only two women had won an election leading a political party. As of that point, five of the nine women that had been first ministers had come only to power because of a change in party leadership. Since October 11th 2011 Kathy Dunderdale, Alison Redford and Pauline Marois have won elections meaning seven of the ten female first ministers either won an election or were selected by their legislature.
It is not only among premiers that the number women has increased, but also with parties represented in legislatures.
In Alberta, Yukon, and Prince Edward Island the leaders of the official opposition are women, though Olive Crane in PEI is stepping down on January 30th as PC leader. In Ontario, and Newfoundland and Labrador significant third parties are lead by women. This means of the 36 parties with representation in a parliament, 11 are women (soon to be 10), 19 are men and 6 are looking for a new leader . Of the six vacancies, two of the races have no women in them, one has no strong woman candidates, and two have no declared candidates. It is only in Ontario where a woman has a realistic chance of winning.
I looking over the past in Canada, there was a period in the 1990s when women came to lead many parties. We had a period from 1993 to 1995 when we had consistently had two or three female first ministers in Canada.
This is a list of all the women that have lead a party into an election and won at least one seat in a parliament (no interim leaders that were then defeated themselves in their first election are included)
- Hilda Watson - Yukon PC leader 1978 - the PCs won the 1978 election but she did not win her seat so she never become premier. I include her on the list because she was so much before her time.
- Alexa McDonough - Nova Scotia NDP leader 1980-1994 and MLA from 1981-1994
- Sharon Carstairs - Manitoba Liberal leader 1984-1993, leader of the official opposition 1988-1990
- Elizabeth Weir - New Brunswick NDP leader 1988-2005, sole NDP MLA from 1991 to 2005
- Audrey McLaughlin - Federal NDP leader 1989-1995
- Lynda Haverstock - Saskatchewan Liberal leader 1989-1996, leader of the official opposition 1995
- Pat Mella - PEI PC leader 1990-1996, leader of the official opposition 1993 to 1996
- Catherine Callbeck - PEI Liberal leader 1993-1996, premier 1993-1996
- Lynn Verge - Newfoundland PC leader and leader of the official opposition 1995-1996
- Alexa McDonough - Federal NDP leader 1995-2003
- Lyn McLeod- Ontario Liberal leader 1992-1996 and leader of the official opposition
- Nancy MacBeth - Alberta Liberal leader 1998-2001 and leader of the official opposition
- Pat Duncan - Yukon Liberal leader 1998-2002, premier 2000-2002
- Carole James - BC NDP leader 2003 - 2011, leader of the official opposition from 2005 to 2011
- Elizabeth May - Federal Green leader 2006 to current, in the House of Commons since 2011
- Lorraine Michael - Newfoundland NDP leader 2006 to current
- Olive Crane - PEI PC leader 2007 to 2013 and leader of the opposition
- Yvonne Jones - Newfoundland Liberal leader 2007 to 2011 and leader of the official opposition
- Andrea Horwath - Ontario NDP leader 2009 to current
- Danielle Smith - Alberta Wildrose leader 2009 to current, leader of the official opposition 2012 to current
- Elizabeth Hanson - Yukon NDP leader 2009 to current, leader of the official opposition 2011 to current
- Kathy Dunderdale - Newfoundland PC leader 2010 to current and premier
- Alison Redford - Alberta PC leader 2011 to current and premier
- Pauline Marois - Quebec PQ leader 2007 to current, premier 2012 to current
Of the 23 names on this list (Alexa Mc Donough is on there twice), ten of them are currently leading their party.