Connect with us


Sunday Scrum: What to expect from Canadian politics in 2020 –



What will the new year bring for Canada’s political parties?

The Liberals will govern with a minority government, the Conservatives will seek to redefine themselves with a leadership race, and the NDP, Greens and Bloc Québécois will all look to leave their mark in the House of Commons.

Heading into 2020, CBC News Network’s Sunday Scrum panel discusses the challenges and opportunities facing each party. Watch the clips below.

The year ahead for the Liberals

Our political panel discusses what 2020 might have in store for Justin Trudeau’s minority Liberal government. 8:27

The year ahead for the Conservatives

The resignation of Andrew Scheer sets the stage for a leadership election in the new year, as well as a policy convention that could redefine the Conservative Party. 5:05

The year ahead for opposition parties

The NDP, Green Party and Bloc Québécois are all looking to leave their mark in the House of Commons heading into 2020. 5:36

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Source link


Japan has so few women politicians that when even one is gaffe-prone, it's damaging – CNN



“Women can tell as many lies as they want,” Sugita was reported to have said at a ruling party parliamentary meeting on 2021 budgets to promote gender equality. Sugita apologized for her remarks earlier this month, saying she hadn’t meant them for female sexual assault survivors or to imply that only women lie.
This wasn’t the first time the lawmaker and member of the ruling LDP party’s Women Activity Promotion Taskforce has alienated parts of the electorate with her conservative views.
Sugita has previously denied the existence of “comfort women” — a wartime euphemism for women and girls, some who volunteered and others who provided sexual services for Japanese soldiers before and during World War II.
In 2018, she came under fire for saying that the government should not support same-sex couples because they cannot bear offspring and therefore were not “productive,” in an article published in conservative magazine Shincho 45.
She has also victim-blamed Shiori Ito, a journalist and icon of Japan’s #MeToo movement, by stating her alleged rape was due to “clear errors on her part as a woman,” according to local media reports.
Experts say Sugita’s recent apology missed the mark, and her comments are damaging — especially in a country with so few female politicians.

Toeing the boy’s club line

Globally, politics remains one of the most male-dominated spheres in society. Only 25% of all national parliamentarians were women as of October 2020, according to the Inter-Parliamentary Union, a global organization of national parliaments.
In Japan, only 46 of 465 lower house lawmakers are women — that’s fewer than 10%, compared to a 25% global average and 20% average in Asia, as of October.
Tomomi Inada, a former defense minister who served in former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government before she resigned in 2017, said being part of a minority comes with its stereotypes.
“We are often judged to be emotional and are treated with skepticism when we voice our opinion strongly. That’s because we are such extreme minority in Japanese politics,” says Inada.
To survive, some women in Japanese politics feel the pressure to comply with their male counterparts’ views to fit in, according to Chizuko Ueno, a sociologist and the chief director of the Women’s Action Network. “They can become more hawkish than their male colleagues,” she adds.
Inada acknowledges feeling pressure to conform to the male majority’s viewpoint while in government, but says it is important for women not to give in to this.
Japan's member of the House of Representatives Mio Sugita attends at the opening of the extraordinary Diet session in Tokyo, Japan on October 24, 2018.
However, Sugita’s latest actions encourage the normalization of casually misogynistic views, says Kukhee Choo, a Japan-based media scholar.
“Countless feminists paved the way for Sugita, but she is using her position of power to dismantle the privilege they built for her. It’s like she turned against that very fight,” says Choo.
That view was echoed by the Flower Demo, a human rights group organizing a movement against sex crimes. It issued a statement in response to Sugita’s remarks, saying “parliamentarians who ought to address gender inequality must not be allowed to set the wrong example by issuing sexually discriminatory remarks and revealing their ignorance of the very real problem of sexual violence.”

Shifting attitudes

In the past, women in Japan who defied expectations and pushed the needle on gender equality have faced backlash.
For instance, in 2017, Yuka Ogata, a local Japanese politician, was confronted by lawmakers for trying to bring her baby to a council session. One councilman shouted at her while others told her that she couldn’t stay and had to leave the room immediately. Ogata had wanted to show how difficult it is for women to find a work-life balance.
However, in recent years, campaigns such as #MeToo and #KuToo — which saw women petition against wearing high heels to work — have put Japan’s gender inequality and human rights issues in the spotlight.
“All generations in Japan have access to the internet, and younger people, in particular, have mobilized on social media to express their opinions and force politicians to change their stance on topics,” says Choo.
Increasingly, people in Japan are no longer willing to turn a blind eye to discriminatory remarks made by politicians, adds Ueno, the sociologist.
“Society is changing and the media’s high attention on Sugita’s remark is proof of such change. Not long ago, remarks like hers were so commonplace they were overlooked but now it’s getting a headline,” says Ueno.

Toothless reforms

Inada says people in Japan think a strong woman will climb the political ladder alone, but that’s a myth. “We will never be able to change the system if we stick to the idea,” she says.
Today, for instance, 127 countries use electoral gender quotas to increase women’s representation in politics, according to the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA).
Inada has backed implementing enforced electoral quotas, arguing that increasing female participation raises responsiveness to policies concerning women, and is also beneficial to men.
“(Japan is) probably 20 to 30 years behind many other countries, but now is the time for female politicians to take action,” says Inada.
Some steps have been made towards change. In 2018, a law was passed to encourage political parties to set targets for gender parity.
However, as with an 1985 equal employment law which aimed to promote gender equality in private companies, there are no legal requirements or penalties for parties that fail to comply, according to Hiroko Goto, a gender equality expert at Chiba University.
As a result, Japan’s ruling LDP has a poor record of appointing women. In 2018, former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe appointed just one woman, Satsuki Katayama, to his new cabinet — claiming she could do the work of “two or three” women.
The situation didn’t get much better in 2020.
When Yoshihide Suga took over office in September, he appointed only two women to his 21-strong team, to the chagrin of many, including the former defense minister Inada. She declared shortly afterward that Japan was a “democracy without women.”
Inada sought to join Japan’s LDP leadership race after Abe resigned in August due to poor health. However, neither she nor Seiko Noda, a former internal affairs minister, secured the 20 nominations needed from other LDP lawmakers to run as a candidate.
Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike was the LDP’s first and only female candidate — and that was in the 2008 presidential election.

Strength in numbers

Despite the barriers, more women are applying for political office than ever before.
Last year, of 370 candidates seeking one of the 124 seats being contested in the Upper House of Councilors, 104 — or almost 30% — were women, according to public broadcaster NHK.
Of those, 28 women were elected — matching a previous high from 2016, according to NHK.
Ueno, the sociologist, says while these women can serve as role models in Japan, many of them are members of smaller, left-wing parties such as the Constitutional Democratic Party (CDP), which have a less influential presence in the Japanese parliament. Also, Japan’s upper house is the less powerful of the parliament’s two houses — for instance, laws are generally passed by the lower house before being sent to the upper house for approval. The lower house can overrule the decisions of the upper house with a majority vote on significant national issues, such as the selection of the prime minister and budgets.
For members of the Flower Demo, who say Sugita’s remarks amounted to a “second rape” for sexual assault survivors, the fight continues. On October 13, the group brought a petition with over 136,000 signatures, demanding Sugita’s resignation, to the LDP’s headquarters in Tokyo. The LDP refused to accept it, according to Minori Kitahara, a Flower Demo member who launched the petition.
The LDP Secretary General’s office said they did not accept the petition of the Flower Demo as it is not usual practice for them to do so.
“(Sugita) has always made remarks like that and the ruling LDP party has forgiven her. But as the Japanese #MeToo is gaining momentum, the LDP can’t ignore this,” says Kitahara.
“Japan is such a male dominated society, we really want the few female politicians to be feminists. We also need (male politicians) to be better allies to women, and understand that the gender issue is important.”

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Source link

Continue Reading


Snap election averted as Liberal government survives confidence vote in Commons –



Canadians will not be heading to the polls for a snap fall election now that the Liberal government has survived a confidence vote on a Conservative motion to create a special committee to probe the government’s ethics and pandemic spending.

MPs voted 180-146 to defeat the opposition motion.

Earlier today, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said that his party would not give Prime Minister Justin Trudeau an “excuse” to send Canadians to the polls in the middle of a global pandemic — signalling that Trudeau’s government would survive today’s confidence vote.

In a news conference just two hours before a crucial confidence vote, Singh declined to say exactly how his MPs would vote or whether they might abstain.

“We are voting for Canadians. We are voting against an election,” he said.

Singh said the NDP will still work to get answers on the WE Charity scandal through the Commons ethics committee, and that his party will push the government for more pandemic support for Canadians.

“People need help right now. They need confidence in the future. They’re not looking for an election,” he said.

“So New Democrats will not give Prime Minister Trudeau the election he’s looking for. We’re not going to be used as an excuse or a cover. We’re going to continue to do the work that we need to do.”

The Bloc Québécois had already confirmed it will support the Conservative motion, while the Green Party indicated that its three MPs would vote against the motion.

The vote is expected to happen around 3:15 p.m. ET and is carrying it live.

The opposition day motion would have created a special committee to probe the Trudeau government’s ethics and spending in response to the pandemic — including the controversial WE Charity contract to administer a student volunteer grant program.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did not recuse himself from talks on the agreement, even though several of his family members had been paid for speaking engagements by the organization.

The Liberal government has declared the vote on the Conservative motion a matter of confidence that could trigger an election — a high-stakes move that NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh called a “farce.”

In a news conference before the vote, Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole said if the motion doesn’t pass, he would continue to work with other parties to hold the government to account. He criticized the government and Trudeau for framing the vote as a confidence matter.

“His designation of this vote as a confidence vote shows that he’s willing to put the electoral fortunes of the Liberal Party ahead of the health, safety and well-being of Canadians,” he said.

“Most Canadians would think that’s unacceptable.”

WATCH / Erin O’Toole on confidence vote:

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole spoke with reporters just after NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh stated that the NDP would not bring down the government in the confidence vote. 0:56

Speaking to reporters after the Liberal caucus meeting, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said the government needs the confidence of the House to do its job.

“I really believe at the end of the day common sense will prevail and we’re going to get through this,” she said.

Freeland also said that legislation for several new pandemic supports for Canadians and businesses needs to be passed and an election could jeopardize that.

WATCH / Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland on possible election:

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland says she’s focused on passing legislation to support Canadians during the pandemic as a confidence vote looms in Parliament today.  1:39

Heading into their weekly caucus meeting this morning, NDP MPs said they had not yet decided on a path forward and would talk about how to proceed behind closed doors.

“At the end of the day we have a lot of moving parts and we’re still in a pandemic and we’re still committed to fighting for Canadians and we’re going to continue to do that,” said Ontario NDP MP Matthew Green.

“We have to look at what all the variables are going in to this discussion and do what’s best for the country.”

Asked by reporters if the NDP had an obligation to support the Conservative motion, NDP ethics critic Charlie Angus said, “There’s many ways to skin a cat, my friends.”

WATCH / NDP MPs on today’s confidence vote:

NDP MPs arrived for their weekly caucus meeting in Ottawa on Wednesday. 1:26

Conservative House leader Gérard Deltell said the ethical questions surrounding the government require a special committee with a clear mandate. He said it’s the “duty” of opposition parties to hold the government to account.

“This is what the issue is all about with this motion, and what we see right now is a prime minister who will do whatever it takes to call an election,” he said.

“The only Canadian who would like to have an election today is the prime minister. The only Canadian who would like to freeze the government for a few months is the prime minister by calling an election.”

The Conservatives amended the original motion to state that voting to launch the committee should not be considered grounds to order an election.

It also dropped the “anti-corruption committee” label it initially proposed.

Bloc Québécois House leader Alain Therrien said the WE Charity issue is so complex that it requires a special committee to get answers.

He said the Liberals’ “scorched-earth” approach to politics is the product of a “club of cronyism” and renders compromise impossible.

He also criticized the NDP, suggesting the party’s MPs have obediently followed Liberal demands.

“The NDP have acted in the last little while a little like the Liberals’ lap dog,” he said.

‘Unwelcome drama’: Paul

Green Party Leader Annamie Paul issued a statement urging the parties to cool their jets, calling the brinkmanship “unwelcome drama.” 

“The Liberal and Conservative parties’ high-stakes, high-tech game of chicken can have no winner,” she said. 

“They should leave such games outside of Parliament, and focus on the urgent needs of people in Canada. I ask members of Parliament to dial down the rhetoric, which is not in keeping with the seriousness of this unprecedented moment, so that we can get back to working on the critical matters at hand.”

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Source link

Continue Reading


Strategies Can Help Teach Students to Discuss Politics – NC State News



The election is underway and the holidays are around the corner, so it’s good news that researchers are working on strategies to help adults and young people productively discuss political differences.

In the journal Social Education, researchers from NC State described efforts to launch an event series called “Dinner with Democracy” to get students involved in political discussions and help train future social studies teachers. This year, the event will be held virtually Oct. 21. Through these events, researchers hope to help students develop skills valuable to life in a democracy.

“Democracy is grounded on the idea that we will talk to each other and work through our problems,” said the study’s lead author Paula McAvoy, an assistant professor in NC State’s College of Education. “So my research has been about engaging students in controversial political issues in the classroom.”

McAvoy was lead author of the paper, which was co-authored by Christy Byrd, assistant professor at NC State, and graduate students Arine Lowery and Nada Wafa. The Abstract sat down with McAvoy to talk about engaging students in political discussions in advance of the virtual Dinner with Democracy event.

The Abstract: You talk about disagreement being a fundamental part of democracy. What do you mean?

McAvoy: Democracies are founded on the idea that people should be given an opportunity to participate in the creation of the laws that govern them and that people can work together to come up with solutions that they can all live with. Inherent in that is you’re going to disagree. We have to get used to the idea that we disagree, there are good reasons to disagree and we need to learn how to give reasons to each other and hear each other.

TA: Why did you want to highlight Dinner with Democracy?

McAvoy: What I liked with Dinner with Democracy is that it’s a multigenerational approach to not only to help young people talk about issues in the classroom, but also to help parents join in the discussion. We can show how we can talk about our differences, hear each other and be willing to be kind to one another.

TA: How did this come about?

McAvoy: Two teachers heard about the concept at the North Carolina Council for Social Studies conference from a teacher who had students find an adult to have a meal with, talk about political issues with that person and report back. After hearing that, the two teachers decided to make it a school event by inviting parents and students to a potluck where students presented discussion questions for each course of the meal. We took that idea to NC State and made it a public event for middle and high school students, teachers, NC State students, faculty and the community.

TA: What was the structure of your event?

McAvoy: In an event like this, you want people to be able to listen to each other. We did several rounds of small group discussions with a facilitator that began with a three-to-five minute setup of the question they were going to talk about.

At the beginning of the discussion, everyone shared personal reflections. The rule was that everyone had to listen to your answer without interrupting or arguing; everyone had to hear from everyone in the group. That did two things: It first promotes the idea that we’re all going to listen to one another, and second, it puts everyone’s humanity into the discussion so we know where we are coming from. So it promotes empathy. You bring yourself first, and political views second.

Then we used a discussion strategy called the “Tug-of-War,” which asks the group to collectively think of reasons for and against an issue. That puts everyone on the same side – we’re working together to come up reasons for and against.

The last thing you do is try to explain what you think about the issue.

TA: How did participants respond?

McAvoy: I was very happy that in the evaluations, the participants said they felt their discussions were productive and fair and there was a sense of civility. 

TA: What lessons can teachers and students learn from this? 

McAvoy: There are different ways to have classroom discussions or engage with students.

One thing that’s tempting is to have students debate. A debate is what you associate with elections. In today’s polarized climate, the debate format exacerbates our differences, and it teaches people to get a view and hold onto it. You teach people to become entrenched in their views.

The activities that we did promote deliberation, which is a different type of discussion. That’s what we model in Dinner with Democracy. Deliberation is about trying to come to a common understanding rather than winning.

In the classroom today, I hear from a lot of teachers that parents are leery, teachers are leery; they don’t want things to get out of hand. We are trying to show that being very careful and intentional about how you are going to have your discussions is essential for having them go well.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Source link

Continue Reading