Women of Influence: Canadian Women and Politics
Contains Bibliography, Index
Margaret Conrad is a history professor at Acadia University and editor
of They Planted Well: New England Planters in Maritime Canada.
In the September 1984 federal election, an unprecedented 27 women candidates were successful in their bid for office. Within a year of that event, no fewer than three books appeared on the topic of women in Canadian politics. The other two are Sylvia B. Bashevkin’s Toeing the Lines: Women and Party Politics in English Canada (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1985) and Janine Brodie’s Women and Politics in Canada (Toronto: McGraw-Hill Ryerson, 1985). Of the three, Kome’s book is by far the most accessible. It is written in a fast-moving, journalistic style, covers the period since the suffrage movement chronologically, and includes useful appendices listing all the women who have served in federal and provincial legislatures and a glossary identifying politically influential women’s organizations. In other ways, Kome’s book is less satisfying. It moves so swiftly over a century of women’s political history that the reader is left with a rather impressionistic view of such complex topics as the Person’s Case, the Yvette Movement, and the mechanisms by which women get excluded from party politics. Kome’s optimistic conclusion, that in 1984 being a woman suddenly became a political asset rather than a liability, will come as surprising news to many women struggling against discrimination in the back rooms of party organizations. Nevertheless, Women of Influence is a good place to start for those uninitiated on the topic of Canadian women in politics and a long overdue reminder for everyone that a century of political activity preceded the success of 27 women politicians in September 1984.