Jason Kenney in hot water over comments he made about female candidates
UCP leader Jason Kenney is under fire on Friday for some comments that he made during a party announcement in Edmonton that critics say devalued women in politics.
Kenney was speaking about the UCP’s pledge to create more protections for victims of domestic violence, similar to the U.K.’s Clare’s Law.
Following the announcement, Kenney was asked about the UCP’s effort to recruit more women to run in the upcoming election.
He first began by saying that when he took over as leader, there were only two women in his caucus and created a strategy to change that. In doing so, he said he found something out about how female candidates fare on the political stage.
“I do recognize that very typically women candidates who are running for nomination for the first time are running against guys that have been running for years or decades and have a network and understand tactical politics a little bit better, than women who are usually doing more useful things like professions and running businesses and helping with families,” Kenney said.
He followed it up by saying that the UCP has a program for female candidates called ‘She Leads’, led by former MP Rona Ambrose, to provide “practical support” to female candidates.
Reaction to the comment about women not being as politically skilled as men was swift on social media, with many saying it was ‘out of touch.’
Jason, Alberta’s largest-ever female caucus and our 10 female cabinet ministers are available to provide you tactical political training any time you need it.— Rachel Notley (@RachelNotley) March 8, 2019
You won’t even need to secretly film it.
Happy #InternationalWomensDay #IWD2019 @jkenney
At a media conference on Friday, Premier Notley alleged that Kenney had gone ‘off script’ when he started talking about female candidates in the UCP.
“It unfortunately revealed what I would call an unprecedented level of condescension in terms of what I’ve seen in a couple of decades from key leaders in our political world.”
Notley says she disagrees with Kenney and her own government supports the fact that he was incorrect.
Stephanie Raynor, a women’s advocate in Calgary, says she isn’t surprised by Kenney’s comments.
“He has a track record of not being a strong advocate for women but not even understanding that the population of Alberta is 50-50 with women.”
She is also surprised that Kenney was allowed to make the comments he did.
“He made us sound uneducated and unqualified and that he wouldn’t take it as a platform in the sense that he should have looked at it as an individual giving feedback to people that don’t agree with him and women that didn’t agree with him.”
Kenney later backtracked on the comments and said they were taken out of context, but Raynor isn’t buying it.
“I would say that a leader like himself that has a track record of fumbling quite a bit should probably stay on script to ensure that he doesn’t make mistakes. This isn’t his first mistake around women or equality for all human beings.”
Raynor says in Canada, women are very lucky and fortunate, but wants to see more done in other areas of the world that don’t necessarily enjoy those same rights.
“We also have to do that on an international stage too, in places like Afghanistan where we continue that fight, where women’s rights are just being absolutely mutilated. Women’s rights are human rights.”
Kenney spoke to the media again on Friday and claimed his comments were blown out of proportion and distorted by the “left wing anger machine” on social media.
(With files from Stephanie Wiebe)