A new voter guide by a University of Victoria grad is hoping to shed light on a number of prominent women’s issues in the upcoming federal election.
Michael McDonald, who graduated in June with a BA in political science, developed the guide in his last semester at UVic. The guide was commissioned by the International Women’s Rights Project, a non-government organization that advocates for women’s human rights, in partnership with the Up for Debate coalition, a network of more than 175 women’s organizations across Canada.
“It was something that I was really excited to partake in because these are issues which, I think, often get left out of the dominant electoral discourses,” said McDonald, whose guide focuses on such issues as violence against women, affordable housing for single mothers, economic equality and political participation.
“The reason why it’s so important to focus on these issues is because they are so intersecting. They’re intersecting with each other, but they’re also intersecting with the larger conversation of the environment or the economy that tend to dominant federal campaigns.”
The guide details how certain issues affect women differently from men and the general stances of Liberals, NDP and Conservatives on each issue. McDonald said many of these issues have been overlooked in previous elections and stressed the importance of highlighting them now before voters go to the polls.
“We have issues that affect 50 per cent of the population that are largely left out of the conversation,” he said. “The hope is that this guide is going to serve as an informational tool for voters to let them know about some of the problems or concerns around these particular issues.”
McDonald noted that one of the features of the guide is a “Questions for Candidates” section under each issue, which asks politicians how they would address the issues if elected.
“It can be really intimidating when you’re standing in a room full of candidates and 300 strangers – you have a question and you’re passionate about the issue, but it can be difficult to articulate that question,” he said. “Through the use of the guide, voters may be able to ask those questions and get these issues to rise to the forefront.”
The guide is available on the IWRP’s website as a PDF or a Word document. To view it, visit iwrp.org/projects/.