By J.W. Schnarr
A request for council to donate to a program promoting women in politics was turned down by Vauxhall council on the grounds it is inappropriate to support one group of people over another.
During their regular meeting on May 4, council addressed a request for a donation of $100 to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities to fund three scholarships used to support increased participation of women in local government.
“As a woman, I don’t really like using these kinds of things,” said Mayor Margaret Plumtree. “I figure if I think I think I should do the job, then I do the job. I don’t need all the extra.”
Deputy Mayor Richard Phillips echoed the sentiment, saying Vauxhall already has a majority of councillors who are female, including the mayor.
Currently, there are two men sitting on council, including Coun. Martin Kondor and Phillips.
Five women make up the rest of council.
“Council is a good example,” he said. “We obviously had a large number of women who wanted to be involved, you let your name stand. You are here fair and square.”
He added in his opinion, supporting underrepresented groups served to diminish them, something he wasn’t comfortable with.
“If you target any group and say, oh, we need to get them involved, that almost diminishes their value,” he said. “You’re saying they are not really equal, therefore we must target them. If I was a woman, I would find this offensive.”
Plumtree also said supporting one group left others unsupported.
“What about young boys who want to get into government?” asked Plumtree. “You are not supporting them.”
The federation makes use of three scholarships as a way to encourage women to get involved in local politics and leadership. Those scholarships include:
Canadian Women in Municipal Government Scholarship, open to women students enrolled in any year of study in secondary school and who are contributing to their school’s leadership or student council;
Mayor Andree Boucher Memorial Scholarship, rewarding student research on women in politics; and
Ann McLean Award, recognizes retired women municipal politicians who have shown exemplary service to their community and constituents, and to mentoring women who want to run for elected office.
“To me, we’re obviously equals, you know? So why do we need to target one group?” asked Phillips.
“It should be available to anyone,” said Plumtree. Not just one group.”