Embrace feminism, says Justin Trudeau. Lib Dems could learn from that.

It seems that every day there’s a new reason to admire Canadian Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

The Guardian has a report of a panel session in Davos where he said that everyone should embrace feminism. He said that a more diverse team makes better decisions in both politics and business.

I particularly liked the clip in the video in which he said that his wife had reminded him that he not only had to encourage his daughter into taking leadership roles, but also to talk to his sons about treating women properly.

He also said that he thinks there will be as big changes in attitudes to equality in the next 20 years as there has been in the last 40.

While changing mindsets can take a long time, Trudeau predicted that the citizens of 2036 will look back disapprovingly at the world today. “Even within our own society, if you look back 50 years or if you leaf through a magazine from the 70s, you see horrific sexism that is overt in a way that would be unacceptable today.

“Even today, hopefully 20 years from now, people will look at what we think is acceptable today and find it horrifically off-base.”

He also spoke about the way that he encouraged members of his gender balanced team to join him:

I personally convinced a number of extraordinary women to step forward, as well as a number of extraordinary men, at a time when politics can be very very divisive.

“Study after study have shown that if you ask a man if he wants to run for office his first question is likely to be: ‘Do I have to wear a tie every day?’ And if you ask a woman if she wants to run for office, her first question is usually, ‘Really, why me?’ Let’s start rewarding politicians and companies who aren’t driven by a macho approach,” Trudeau said.

This party has much to do to sort out its own attitude towards diversity and particularly in terms of gender equality. With big decisions on diversity to be made this Spring at our conferences in Edinburgh and York, we could do with taking a leaf out of Trudeau’s book. It’s a significant test of whether we are actually willing to take the evidence-based action necessary to ensure that we represent the communities we wish to serve. If we are not, then that is bound to have a detrimental effect on our electability and the prospects for the #libdemfightback.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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34 Comments

  • Eddie Sammon 23rd Jan '16 - 7:32pm

    I’ve thought of an idea recently of lower tax rates for carers to reduce the pay gap. Most of the caring work is done by women and it could apply to looking after children or elderly. Arguably, this wider contribution to society is not sufficiently recognised.

    The problem with simple state payments alone is that it doesn’t make up the financial losses for higher-status women (and stay-at-home dads), so the tax system could be used too.

    It won’t satisfy everyone, but it is an idea.

  • The percentage of women MP’s in Justin Trudeau’s Liberal party is less than the British Labour and Conservative Parties and a lot less than the SNP. I’m not 100% certain, but I think the percentage of women candidates the Canadian Liberal Party put up at their last GE was less than the British LibDems fielded. Perhaps Justin Trudeau needs to put his own house in order before he starts lecturing the world – or anyone – on embracing feminism.

  • Ryan McAlister 23rd Jan '16 - 8:16pm

    The love in on this site forTrudeau is uncomfortable.

    As well as the very valid point made by Malc, I wonder what Caron would say if David Cameron announced that he was only going to accept Women and Children from Syria, and not men. If he justified that decision by implying it was the only way to stop events like Cologne happening, and if he refused to take anyone who wasn’t subject to strict security vetting and came directly from refugee camps in the region.

    Not gushing praise I am sure…

  • Eddie Sammon 23rd Jan '16 - 8:22pm

    I’ve got a bit more of a practical quasi-feminist policy idea: higher tax free personal allowance for carer’s. If the higher allowance was £1,000 more then a basic rate taxpayer would save £200, higher rate £400, additional rate £450.

    Progressive and affordable. Perhaps. Plus probably fairer to lower paid carers.

  • Well spotted Malc. It appears the Canadian Liberals have something in common with their British counterparts afterall, i.e. not practising what they preach on gender equality :-

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women_in_the_41st_Canadian_Parliament

    The Canadian New Democrat Party (roughly equivalent to Labour in terms of placing on the Canada’s spectrum) has a far higher proportion of female candidates and MPs. And guess what – the NDP use all-women shortlists…

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 23rd Jan '16 - 10:28pm

    Trudeau is certainly delivering where he has the control to do so – a perfectly gender balanced Cabinet, to start with.

    I think that some people in our party do put too much store by what the Canadian Liberals did – each riding had to prove what it had done to find a woman candidate. That is a blunt instrument. I am in favour of that sort of thing but used in conjunction with all women shortlists.

    There is something to be said for the sort of approach the Canadian Liberals took though, because it can help to identify the next tranche of MPs. Way back when I was Campaigns and Candidates Convener in Scotland, I was always insistent that key seats made extensive efforts to find women to shortlist. If they didn’t, I wouldn’t let them proceed with selection until they did. For that, I got a whole stream of abuse and even physical intimidation, at one stage actually being backed into a corner by a group of angry people.

    In that particular selection, a woman was found to stand when they re-advertised. That woman has since gone on to achieve elected office. On its own, it’s not enough, but it can get people involved who didn’t see that as a particular career path.

  • David Evans 24th Jan '16 - 1:12am

    The need for a #libdemfightback was made necessary over the last five years because too many influential Lib Dems, including LDV, preferred to look through rosy spectacles at their particular interest rather than look to protect and enhance the wellbeing of Liberal Democracy as a whole. Millions of voters left us as a result. We are now in a position where our continued existence is at risk and some still choose to look at it only in terms of what they can get for their particular hobbyhorse out of the little that is left.

    There is even a council by-election in Argyll and Bute shortly where we had an MP until last May and the local Lib Dems haven’t even put up a candidate. Not a man or a woman is prepared to stand! Having stood up to get a local party to include suitable women in times of plenty is a good thing, but if as much effort as is currently being put into AWS had been spent getting the party to face up to its problems between 2010 and 2015, we might still have had 30 MPs rather than scrabbling around and failing to find council candidates. We will not turn the corner until all those people start to look at what is important to the voters and then they may find out what we need to do to survive.

  • Jenny Barnes 24th Jan '16 - 8:59am

    @ David Evans. Plenty of people pointed out the problems between 2010-15. It’s hardly our fault if the senior folk responsible for them stuck their fingers in their ears and sang lalalalala. We might still have 60 or more MPs if proper PR had been a coalition red line, but someone thought a referendum on AV was good enough. Wrong, wrong, wrong. The Tories wanted to destroy the LDs, and they have been fairly successful; the LDs, according to Clegg, wanted to increase to 120+MPs. Which didn’t work out so well.

  • John Roffey 24th Jan '16 - 9:50am

    David Evans 24th Jan ’16 – 1:12am

    “The need for a #libdemfightback was made necessary over the last five years because too many influential Lib Dems, including LDV, preferred to look through rosy spectacles at their particular interest rather than look to protect and enhance the wellbeing of Liberal Democracy as a whole.”

    Yes – it is very difficult to steer a path through the many policies that cannot be challenged. It seems to me that it would help if a straight forward ‘one member one vote’ could be applied to much of what the Party chooses to promote.

    As for LDV – I have only recently started reading the site again and I have found it difficult to understand why some subjects keep reappearing when it is obvious from the number commenting that they hold little interest for the readership.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 24th Jan '16 - 10:40am

    There are some subjects where people who agree with the article are unmotivated to comment because of the dismissive attitude of others.

    https://twitter.com/nickjbarlow/status/691041346149310466 is an astute observation.

  • “if you look back 50 years or if you leaf through a magazine from the 70s, you see horrific sexism that is overt in a way that would be unacceptable today.”
    Best selling magazines from the 70s included Woman’s Own, Woman’s Weekly and the like. I didn’t think they were horrific.

  • Maria Pretzler 24th Jan '16 - 10:51am

    John Roffey,
    Have you once considered that the commenters might not be representative of the readers of this site?
    Many of us are sensible enough to read articles and even some of the comments, but not to engage with the people below the line. Most of the commenters are, after all, the usual suspects who say the ever same things over and over again, and usually neither repetition nor debate makes the arguments or opinions any more valid than they were the first time.
    Reading LDV articles is a lot more rewarding than commenting, so I bet I am not the only one who simply can’t be bothered most of the time.
    If regular LDV commenters were representative of the LDV readership (or, worse, LibDem party sympathisers), I’d despair. But I am pretty sure they aren’t. Not by a long way.

  • @Eddie Sammon “higher tax free personal allowance for carer’s. If the higher allowance was £1,000 more then a basic rate taxpayer would save £200, higher rate £400, additional rate £450.” With the personal tax allowance at £11,000 for 2016-17 most carers won’t be paying tax. At £7 ph you need 30 hours pw before tax. Many carers don’t work anything like that number of hours.

  • Simon, indeed there are many in politics who want the total destruction of their opponents, but under Nick Clegg we had a leader who willingly, if also unwittingly, helped them more than they could have ever dreamed of.

  • “Even within our own society, if you look back 50 years or if you leaf through a magazine from the 70s, you see horrific sexism that is overt in a way that would be unacceptable today.” magazines have to appeal to their readership to get the circulation they need and to do that they reflect society. They are a good snapshot of society at that time. Go back even earlier and you see the husband coming home to a tea made by non working wife. It is change for the better that matters.

  • Caron Lindsay 24th Jan ’16 – 10:40am

    How do you know they agree Caron? I think I have suggested before that LDV used the same comment system that the Guardian use [if possible] – that a recommend box appears next to each comment which increases in number each time the comment is recommended.

    Failing that a comment ‘good article’ does not seem too taxing and considering the battle that women have had to endure in years past – a dismissive comment does not seem to match up to their sufferings. However, my comment was not specifically about feminism – but simply a general observation.

  • “nickjbarlow/status/691041346149310466 is an astute observation.” if you take all the comment streams and run names (where given and assisted by them being in bold) against the male/female name database it would appear in general that males comment more than females. Whether that reflects actual readers is an unknown. It is difficult to assess readership since IP addresses are not assigned by gender

  • Maria Pretzler 24th Jan ’16 – 10:51am

    “If regular LDV commenters were representative of the LDV readership (or, worse, LibDem party sympathisers), I’d despair. But I am pretty sure they aren’t. Not by a long way.”

    Included in my comment is a suggestion that a ‘one member – one vote system’ should apply to the policies that the Party pursues. I would have thought that, at least, after each GE a list of the parties policies currently in force could be sent to each member for them to approve/disapprove each.

    Things change year by year so a policy that might have been important 5 years ago may not be so important now and with limited resources, particularly at a time like now, only the most important policies can be focused on effectively. The L/D’s seem to retain policies from the year dot!

  • @Caron Lindsay 24th Jan ’16 – 10:40am
    “There are some subjects where people who agree with the article are unmotivated to comment because of the dismissive attitude of others.”

    I think that if there’s a problem with a dismissive attitude with regard to the example here, feminism, it’s the one exhibited by those in the upper echelons of a party that has no women MPs.

  • @Simon Shaw :

    “the LDs, according to Clegg, wanted to increase to 120+MPs.”
    What, and you didn’t? Are you saying you didn’t want us to have more than (say) 75 MPs?”

    I think the unsaid argument in that comment, Simon, was that Nick Clegg’s actions over 5 yearts of government made neither 75 seats nor 120 the remotest possibility. While few people indeed ever projected our actual result down to a mere 8 MPs, I was always aghast at the number of starry eyed LDs who appeared to think we had even the slightest hope of ending up with more than 25 seats or so when absolutely nothing was being done centrally which in any way would have contributed to such a good outcome. That complacent failure was, of course, particularly hurtful to the prospects of those good female candidates we had in 2015 in seats where sitting MPs were retiring. Such candidates, as all non-incumbents, required a targeted boost to their prospects, not a perpetual grinding paralysis and inertia which absolutely ‘did’ for them. 🙁

  • Eddie Sammon 24th Jan '16 - 12:41pm

    It’s not fair to be negative about the character of regular commenters. I’m withdrawing my comments for the time being, partly because they clearly aren’t appreciated by some and another to prove a point that without the regular commenters there would be hardly any comments.

    If I was in a room with a load of women with their hands up on this topic then I would want the majority of women to speak, but it’s different when typing online.

  • @Eddie
    “It’s not fair to be negative about the character of regular commenters.”

    I agree Eddie. I saw that tweet last night, and a downright insulting one that followed it, and I was disappointed to see it endorsed here.

    The original article is about a man</B) (Justin Trudeau) saying that "everybody" should embrace feminism. Good sentiments, which I don't think anybody posting here has actually disagreed with (except maybe one), so I'm not sure why the men who have posted have been insulted for doing so. It's better to classify people according to how much they believe in gender equality, rather than what gender they happen to be. Lots of women are not feminists, lots of men are.

  • http://www.jowaltonbooks.com/poetry/whimsy/the-lurkers-support-me-in-email/

    “The lurkers support me in email
    They all think I’m great don’t you know.
    You posters just don’t understand me
    But soon you will reap what you sow…

    The lurkers support me in email
    “So why don’t they post?” you all cry
    They’re scared of your hostile intentions
    they’re not as courageous as I.”

  • Caron, I was very surprised that few commented on violence and rape article a few days ago, a topic of massive importance , there were hardly any of us . One thing I think we should do is be able to see Trudeau , despite much to support too ,is not always so good and certainly not from a Liberal perspective , flawless, by any means . I strongly favour legal abortion , yet to bar any individual who takes a different view to Trudeau , from trying to become an mp , ie any one who dislikes a policy which is to have no limit in weeks , the actual Canadian law , and to stop those wanting any modification or change ,from standing as candidates , and mandating on conscience issues, which he has done , is illiberal and intolerant . It also excludes women , and there are many , who in Canada , do not agree with that law , almost unique in the world , as most countries do not favour abortion almost up to birth . Similarly Canada under his government is way to the right of Tim and co on immigration and refugees .

  • Jenny Barnes 24th Jan '16 - 3:35pm

    @simon shaw
    Tony Dawson & David Evans have kindly picked up and explained what I meant. Thanks guys! Yes, of course I would like to reduce the number of Tory MPs/councillors, etc, and 125 + LD MPs would have been a wonderful result in 2015. Neither of these desirable outcomes were in the least likely to be achieved given no PR and the policies adopted, apparently with little reluctance, when in government.

    I apologise for going somewhat off topic.

  • Maria Pretzler , I was of the same view as you , on the matter of posting comments , I was also , for a long while happy to read and sit back from the fray . I found that began to be frustrating .The thing that I think is not quite right with the view of seeing some people as “the usual suspects “, is ,it can be taken as an insult to some . I go out of my way to be civil to people , and the only time I have fallen foul of moderation on here has been if I have said something stronger about a particular viewpoint of others not on the thread, rather than to anyone on it . There are , in any of us who are in the mainstream of what is a mainstream party , a range of views . I used to find the most bitter on here seemed to be on the left of the party , and vehement against Nick Clegg . I found it troubling , a few years back and drifted away from it , as it was a divisive politics that drove me from Labour years ago . I returned because to becoming more involved as a Liberal Democrat again , because , for better or worse , I am political, and two thirds Liberal in its many guises , and even one third social democrat , so this is where I belong! I do not think anyone on here who is in the party actually has one across the board perspective or approach , if they do are they happy in the party , as Liberals or social democrats , a range of ideas should be possible .

  • Tony Dawson 25th Jan '16 - 9:43am

    @Maria Pretzler

    “neither repetition nor debate makes the arguments or opinions any more valid than they were the first time.”

    Agreed. One hopes that Lib Dem Voice will adopt such an editorial policy in future. For, pre-2015 there was an unfortunates stream of articles which said the same thing again and again in a Dalek-like manner. All put forward very mildly-differentiated versions of the same mantra that the emperor Dalek was right and must be obeyed and there would be an empire of a thousand years (or something similar). All were proven more wrong than the fiercest critic at that time could possibly have imagined.

  • Tsar Nicholas 25th Jan '16 - 10:18am

    I am struck by the fact that Trudeau is enamoured of Davos and its undeservedly rich elite. I am further struck by the fact that Trudeau told Leonardo de Caprio to not be so vocal about climate change, this in the week when a storm is going to hit the North Pole and for the second time in a month cause temperatures to rise above freezing.

  • Just been watching Will Straw talking about Europe on Andrew Neil’s Politics Show. Last week we had Zac Goldsmith debating with Stephen Kinnock. We all want a parliament which is more representative of the people and that includes more women MPs, but surely the dominance of the scions of rich and influential families is as much of a problem as any gender imbalance.
    And would it be a victory for democracy and social justice if we had more women from elite backgrounds in parliament at the likely expense of men from more modest backgrounds ?

  • Oh dear, here we go again. Firstly I would like to ask where is the studies that Trudeau is referring to:
    “Study after study have shown that if you ask a man if he wants to run for office his first question is likely to be: ‘Do I have to wear a tie every day?’ And if you ask a woman if she wants to run for office, her first question is usually, ‘Really, why me?’”

    Do male politicians spend all day discussing ties?

    There is on overly positive attitude to Trudeau on LDV, by all means celebrate any success but remain sceptical and critical of areas that fall short.

    I think the solution to the shortage of female MPs (particularly the AWS issue) is not a discussion on LDV, as everyone appears to be on broadcast.

    The discussion here equates the pursuit of equality with Feminism, that is not a universal view among the population. Perhaps people should simply refer to Equality/Equal Opotunity as that is the intended objective.
    https://yougov.co.uk/news/2013/10/05/treat-women-equally-dont-call-it-feminism/

    If the concern is to achieve an outcome it can be more helpful to discuss it without using terms that have become loaded to a significant portion of the population.

  • Mick Taylor 26th Jan '16 - 6:00pm

    Say what you like but how many Prime Ministers have a cabinet that is representative of the country it serves? Trudeau has men and women in more or less equal numbers and minorities in there too. Give the man the credit he deserves.

  • Mick Taylor

    “Trudeau has men and women in more or less equal numbers and minorities in there too”

    I don’t see anyone here criticising that, but the point being made is that you have to remain sceptical about those in power. The response to Trudeau has a feel of the response to Blaire after ’97, you want to keep those in power under a spotlight to ensure that they don’t get a pass on the bad due to some good being done.

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