Celebrating the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage

January 28th, 2016 by CIVIX

A hundred years ago today, women were officially allowed to vote in a Canadian election. Suffrage (the right to vote) was extended to Manitoba women, allowing them to cast a ballot in their next provincial election. Most other provinces quickly followed suit, and by 1918 women were allowed to vote federally. Now women make up a larger percentage of the Canadian electorate than men!

The path to women’s suffrage was a long and arduous one. Although instances of women voting in Upper and Lower Canada in the early 19th century are documented, they were rare exceptions. Formal complaints were lodged against them and the provinces enacted laws to prohibit women from voting. Canada’s Constitutional Act, 1867 entrenched the right of provincial governments to decide which of their citizens could vote federally and women were effectively excluded.

Beginning in the 1870s, women campaigned for change with petitions, speeches and public protests. The women’s suffrage movement grew and chapters were formed in every province. The only exception was Quebec, whose conservative culture forced women to take up other issues, such as the right to equal education. Without much support from politicians and the general public, women introduced bills in provincial legislatures that would grant them the right to vote. If their bill was defeated, it was reintroduced again and again until it was passed.

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The early 1900s were changing times for Canadian women. The First World War saw them excel at jobs generally reserved for men. Transportation and modes of communication became more accessible and women could gather information, advertise their message and travel to meetings in different cities much more easily. The suffragettes – as these women came to be nicknamed – used creative ways to gain followers and supporters.

For instance, in January 1914, a play sponsored by the Manitoba Political Equality League was performed in which women adopted the roles of legislators who were listening to men demanding the right to vote. Nellie McClung, one of the more famous suffragettes, played the role of the provincial premier and rejected the idea. “Man is made for something higher and better than voting. Men were made to support families. What is a home without a bank account!” she declared. McClung, who was said to have met several times with Manitoba Premier Rodmond Roblin to discuss the women’s vote, imitated him so well that the audience burst into laughter.

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Manitoba became the first province to approve women’s suffrage on January 28, 1916, closely followed by Saskatchewan on March 14 and Alberta on April 19. British Columbia extended women the right to vote on April 5, 1917, and Ontario Suffragettes celebrated their victory one week later on April 12. These important provincial decisions mounted pressure on the federal government to do the same.

On May 24, 1918, women aged 21 and older were granted the right to vote in federal elections, and in July 1919 they were allowed to run for public office. It was not until 1929, with the help of the “Famous Five” – a group including Nellie McClung, Emily Murphy, Henrietta Muir Edwards, Louise Crummy McKinney and Irene Parlby – that women were declared “persons” in a Supreme Court case, and could be appointed to the Senate.

Suffragettes paved the way for a more inclusive future, but to many women in Canada even the 1929 decision was not cause for celebration. Members of several ethnic and racial minority groups, such as Canadians of Chinese and Japanese origin, were excluded for several decades after women achieved the right to vote. Aboriginal peoples had to wait until 1960 to be able to cast their first ballot. It is important to remember the legacy of the suffragettes on this day, but also to recognize that it took quite a while longer for the title of “persons” to apply equally to all citizens of Canada.

Adelina

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Democracy Bootcamp: Edmonton

September 30th, 2015 by CIVIX

Roughly 130 educators from Edmonton and the surrounding region took part in Democracy Bootcamp at The Alberta Teachers’ Association. 

Democracy Bootcamp: Edmonton was the fifth and final professional conference that CIVIX hosted in 2015 to inspire teachers’ democratic engagement and support their delivery of Student Vote during this fall’s federal election. We have officially trained more than 800 teachers throughout Canada in preparation for the largest Student Vote in the program’s history!

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The day began with a panel of high-level political operatives, who gave teachers a glance inside a campaign to explain how they are shaped, won and lost. The panel featured Tom Flanagan, Sally Housser, and Scott Reid and was moderated by The Edmonton Journal’s Graham Thomson.

The afternoon’s agenda included an all-candidate forum on federal politics hosted by Nancy Carlson of Global News Edmonton and a presentation of Student Vote’s new tools and best practices.

Two other Bootcamps – Democracy Bootcamp: Calgary and Democracy Bootcamp: Montreal – were held just last week in their respective cities, and CIVIX organized two other Bootcamps in British Columbia and Ontario earlier this year.

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CIVIX has organized Student Vote projects in Alberta during the last four federal and three provincial elections. In the recent provincial election, more than 92,000 Student Vote ballots were cast from 838 schools, representing the province’s best ever participation in the program.

Already in this fall’s federal Student Vote, Alberta has shattered its past participation records. The province has increased its best-ever participation by 31 per cent, with 1186 schools registered – that’s more than half of all schools in the province!

Democracy Bootcamp: Edmonton is made possible with the support of The Alberta Teachers’ Association, Edmonton Catholic School District, Edmonton Public Schools, Elections Alberta, Elections Canada, The Edmonton Community Foundation, The Max Bell Foundation, and Your Canada, Your Constitution.

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Democracy Bootcamp: Calgary

September 21st, 2015 by CIVIX

More than 300 teachers from across Calgary will participate in Democracy Bootcamp today at the TELUS Spark Centre. The conference is intended to inspire the democratic engagement of teachers and improve their delivery of Student Vote during this fall’s federal election.

Democracy Bootcamp: Calgary will be our largest event in 2015, and the day-long agenda is packed with interesting speakers and special guests. In the morning, teachers will hear from political scientist Paul Fairie on the ‘Math (or Magic?)’ of polls, including their impact on elections, their implications for our democracy, and why pollsters get it right – and wrong.

An experienced panel of political operatives will then give teachers a glance ‘Inside a Campaign’ to offer insight on how campaigns are shaped, won and lost. The panel features Kathleen Monk, Scott Reid, and Jamie Watt and is moderated by The Globe and Mail’s Campbell Clark.

The afternoon schedule includes an all-party forum on federal politics hosted by Linda Olsen of Global News Calgary and a presentation on Student Vote tools and best practices.

Another Bootcamp – Democracy Bootcamp: Montréal – is simultaneously being held in Montréal today, and another is scheduled for next Tuesday, September 29 in Edmonton. CIVIX also hosted two other Bootcamps in British Columbia and Ontario earlier this year. By next week, we will have trained more than 800 teachers throughout Canada to deliver our biggest and best Student Vote yet.

CIVIX has organized Student Vote projects in Alberta during the last four federal and three provincial elections. In the recent provincial election, more than 92,000 Student Vote ballots were cast from 838 schools, representing the province’s best ever participation in the program.

In this fall’s federal Student Vote, Alberta has already shattered past participation. The province sits at 120 per cent of its best ever registration, with 1,061 schools registered – that’s more than half of all schools in the province!

Democracy Bootcamp: Calgary is made possible with the support of The Alberta Teachers’ Association, Calgary Board of Education, Calgary Catholic School District, Elections Alberta, Elections Canada, The Calgary Foundation, The Max Bell Foundation, and Your Canada, Your Constitution.

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Democracy Bootcamp: Montréal

September 21st, 2015 by CIVIX

CIVIX is proud to welcome over 60 teachers and participants from across Québec for Democracy Bootcamp: Montréal today at Écomusée du fier monde. Participants will engage on the delivery of the Student Vote program for the 2015 federal election, and learn about democratic engagement in the classroom.

Graham Fox of the Institut de la recherche en politiques publiques will moderate a panel of expert political analysts, including Tasha Kheiriddin of the National Post, Philippe Orfali of Le Devoir, and Éric Montigny of Université de Laval, while they discuss the federal election.

Participants will also learn about polling accuracy and how to integrate the results of polls into the classroom, with Claire Durand of Université de Montréal. In the afternoon, participants will engage in group discussion sessions in order to share resources and their experiences with Student Vote, and to help teachers prepare to deliver the program.

The Directeur général des élections du Québec and l’Assemblée nationale du Québec will share tools and programs from the Québec government for civic education, including Vox populi: Ta démocratie à l’école and Par ici la démocratie.

CIVIX will also share the best tips, practices, and tools that teachers can integrate into their Student Vote programs this fall. With the advice from experienced participants, to the latest social media tools and videos, teachers will leave the day prepared to challenge their students into thinking about, and acting on their civic duty with the Student Vote program.

Another Bootcamp – Democracy Bootcamp: Calgary – is simultaneously being held in Calgary today, and another is scheduled for next Tuesday, September 29 in Edmonton. CIVIX hosted two other Bootcamps in British Columbia and Ontario earlier this year as well. By next week, we will have trained more than 800 teachers throughout Canada to deliver our biggest and best Student Vote yet.

CIVIX has organized Student Votes during the last four federal elections in Québec. In the last federal election, 322 schools in the province registered for the Student Vote program, resulting in over 36,000 ballots cast. The 2015 election has resulted in 110 per cent of our best ever participation in the province.

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Over 5,000 schools registered for Student Vote

September 16th, 2015 by CIVIX
Last week the federal campaign reached its midpoint, and CIVIX officially launched Student Vote 2015 in schools across Canada.

As of noon today, 5,735 schools are registered for Student Vote, representing all 338 electoral districts, and shattering our registration records in the previous federal election by more than 1,400 schools.

You can view all participating schools on our interactive map:

The team is working around the clock to serve these schools to the best of our ability. On Monday, we’ll have our team split between four locations across the country: in our Toronto office responding to calls and emails from teachers, at our East York warehouse preparing and mailing packages, and in both Calgary and Montreal running Democracy Bootcamp teacher training conferences.

More than 400 teachers will attend a Bootcamp on Monday, all of whom are registered Student Vote Team Leaders. They will learn about how to best bring the election to their classroom, as well as hearing directly from local candidates and pundits like Kathleen Monk, Jaime Watt, Scott Reid and Tasha Kheirridin.

In addition to distributing thousands of free resource packages to schools across the country, we are preparing Student Vote participants for their election days by simultaneously producing the most current and relevant content possible.

We are proud to have The Globe and Mail as our official content partner for this election. On Monday, we spoke with The Globe’s Jane Taber about what to expect in tomorrow’s leaders’ debate on the economy. You can watch here: 

 
We will have more to share with you next week and throughout the final month of the campaign,

Taylor

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Democracy Bootcamp Ontario 2015

April 16th, 2015 by Dan Allan

More than 200 educators from across Ontario are set to gather in Toronto today and tomorrow for Democracy Bootcamp!

Hosted by CIVIX at the Royal Ontario Museum and the Arcadian Court, Democracy Bootcamp will cover the basics of elections, voting research and trends, and techniques and tools to educate and engage students in our democracy. The conference is intended to improve the political knowledge, interest, and instructional capacity of classroom teachers, and enhance their delivery of the Student Vote program.

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Democracy Bootcamp is made possible with support from Elections Canada, the Elementary Teachers’ Federation, the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association, the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation, the Ontario Teachers’ Federation and the Ontario Trillium Foundation.

The schedule for the two-day event includes an all-party forum on federal politics hosted by Althia Raj, a pundits panel featuring Amanda Alvaro, Robin MacLachlan and Stockwell Day, and an insider’s look at election campaigns hosted by Desmond Cole and featuring Kathleen Monk, Jaime Watt and David Herle. Additional discussions will feature Vote Compass, Samara Canada, Abacus Data and Twitter Canada.

CIVIX has organized Student Vote projects in Ontario during the last four federal and four provincial elections, as well as two municipal and school board elections (including the most recent municipal and school board elections in the fall of 2014). During last year’s provincial election, more than 170,000 Student Vote ballots were cast from over 1,300 schools.

A British Columbia Democracy Bootcamp took place in Vancouver in February; photos are available here. Bootcamps in Quebec and Alberta are being planned for later this year.

The first Democracy Bootcamp for Ontario teachers was held in April 2011. Videos of the panels are available here. You can watch a video recap of the event here:

Follow us at @CIVIX_Canada and @studentvote to keep tabs on #DemocracyBootcamp.

Please contact hello@civix.ca for more information.

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Bringing the Vital Signs Report to Student Vote classrooms across Toronto

February 26th, 2015 by Dan Allan

Rahul Bhardwaj, President & CEO of the Toronto Foundation, recently met with a group of “budding city councillors” at a Toronto high school. These students were a part of a joint initiative between the Toronto Foundation and CIVIX, to bring the Toronto’s Vital Signs® Report into Student Vote classrooms across the city.

Coinciding with official election periods, students learn about government and the electoral process, debate the issues, and participate in a parallel vote on the official local candidates.

In the fall of 2014, 1,640 schools registered and 133,202 ballots were cast as part of the Student Vote program for the Ontario municipal and school board elections. Toronto’s civic elections were particularly exciting, and more than 30,000 students from across the city cast their ballots for mayor, council and school board trustee.

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To increase engagement, CIVIX and the Toronto Foundation partnered to bring the Vital Signs® Report into nearly 300 Toronto schools.

One of 191 Community Foundations in Canada, the Toronto Foundation is an independent charitable foundation that connects philanthropy to community needs and opportunities across the city.

Published annually by the Toronto Foundation, the Report identifies the trends and issues affecting the quality of life in Toronto. It aims to inspire civic engagement and provide focus for public debate.

The Report and a specially developed classroom activity were distributed to registered Team Leaders in Toronto to accompany other Student Vote resources. Through the Vital Signs® Report, students learned about issues affecting their city in more detail, and encouraged discussion about how different candidates would address those questions.

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One participating teacher said the Toronto Vital Signs® Report, “fostered interest in municipal politics and inspired my students to advocate for issues affecting their community” and added that it “gave us a lot of knowledge about our city and also provided an important framework within which I was able to bring up issues that were a part of municipal politics.”

Teacher Alicia Roberge and her Grade 9 geography class at Marc Garneau Collegiate Institute provided a great example of how Student Vote and the Report could work hand in hand to increase youth civic engagement.

Alicia’s students created a series of videos and presented their work to Toronto Foundation President & CEO Rahul Bhardwaj on November 27, 2014. You can watch a video recap of the visit here.

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“CIVIX was delighted to work with the Toronto Foundation last fall and have the opportunity to provide interesting research and statistics to participating schools in Toronto. We know it fostered great dialogue in classrooms about important issues facing our city. It was a valuable experience for all involved,” says Taylor Gunn, President and CEO of CIVIX Canada.

Overall, the partnership between CIVIX and the Toronto Foundation was successful in providing students with a greater understanding of the issues at hand in the municipal election. We look forward to working together again during the next Toronto election!

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Legislatures set to return for the fall session

August 28th, 2014 by Abhi Saini

Over the next few months, provincial legislatures and the House of Commons will return for their respective fall sessions. Here’s our recap of the dates when each legislature is expected to resume:

One legislature has not yet set a date for their fall return:

Stay tuned for the latest news!

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International Election Digest

August 14th, 2014 by Abhi Saini

Turkey, Sweden and Fiji are in the midst of elections! Here’s our breakdown of the latest news.

TURKEY

Turkey hosted their presidential election on August 10. After the first round of voting, current Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan (representing the Justice and Development Party) won the election with 51.9 per cent of the vote. Opposition candidate Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu secured 38.3 per cent of the vote.  There will not be a run-off due to the “huge margin” of victory.

During this election campaign, Erdogan said that if elected he will amend the constitution to transform the ceremonial post of president into a “US-style executive powerhouse.” Ihsanoglu expressed no interest in supporting an executive-style presidential system.

During the last presidential election in 2007, Abdullah Gül was indirectly elected as the president by the members of the Grand National Assembly. Constitutional amendments were made to allow the president to be elected directly to serve a five-year term.

SWEDEN

The Swedish general election will take place on September 14, 2014. As per the constitution, the election must take place every four years in September to allocate the 349 seats in the Riksdag (Sweden’s parliament). At the same time, elections will also be held for municipal assemblies and county councils. The Swedish electoral system uses proportional representation.

The last Swedish general election was held on September 19, 2010. After the official ballot count, the center-right “Alliance” – comprised of the Moderate Party, Centre Party, Liberal Party and Christian Democrats – secured 172 seats in parliament and won a second term. The “Red-Greens” – comprised of Social Democrats, the Left Party, and the Green Party – secured 157 seats in the parliament. Voter turnout was at 84.6 per cent and over 6 million voters participated in the election.

Presently, there are ten political parties participating in the fall election. According to opinion polls, the Social Democrats are leading with 30.8 per cent of voter support.

FIJI

Fiji will host its first general election since the 2006 military coup on September 17, 2014. The election writ was recently drawn up by acting Chief Justice Anthony Gates, confirming the election date.

Prior to the adoption of a new constitution in 2013, Fiji had a bicameral parliament comprised of a Senate and the House of Representatives. Fiji now has a parliamentary system comprised of 50 seats, with each member serving for a five-year term. Members of parliament will be elected by a “multi-member open list system” of proportional representation.

On March 5, 2014, Rear Admiral and interim Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama successfully handed over the Fiji military command to Commander Brigadier Mosese Tikoitoga and announced his plan to run in the election as a candidate. Later in April, Bainimarama announced Dr. Jiko Luveni as the first candidate to join his Fiji First Party (FFP). There are currently five political parties participating in this election.

To ensure a free and fair election, Fiji will set up a task force to monitor the way media outlets report on the campaign.

Stay tuned for more international election news and coverage!

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Leadership Race Update

August 7th, 2014 by Abhi Saini

Over the next few months, ten political organizations from across Canada will elect new leaders. Here is our breakdown of the latest news surrounding these leadership races.

Newfoundland and Labrador

The Progressive Conservative Party of Newfoundland and Labrador leadership race began when Kathy Dunderdale announced her resignation as the premier and party leader on January 22, 2014. On January 24, 2014, Tom Marshall was sworn in as interim party leader and the province’s 11th premier.

Nominations for the position of party leader closed on July 7, 2014 and Paul Davis, Steve Kent and John Ottenheimer were announced as leadership candidates. The election will take place during the PC leadership convention on September 13, 2014.

Prince Edward Island

Olive Crane stepped down as the leader of PEI PC Party on January 31, 2013. On the same day, Steven Myers was appointed as the party’s interim leader. The PEI PC leadership convention was to be held this fall, but the convention date is being reconsidered now that the next provincial election will be held in 2016.

Nova Scotia

Darrell Dexter stepped down as the leader of the Nova Scotia NDP on November 23, 2013 and Maureen MacDonald was appointed as the party’s interim leader. The leadership election date is yet to be decided. Both Maureen Macdonald and Peter Stoffer have declined to run for the leadership position.

Québec

The Parti Québécois leadership race began with Pauline Marois stepping down as PQ leader after her election defeat on April 7, 2014. The PQ caucus chose Stéphane Bédard as the interim party leader. The leadership election date is yet to be decided and the campaigning isn’t expected to start before this fall. Prospective candidates include MNAs Pierre Karl Péladeau, Bernard Drainville and Jean-François Lisée.

Ontario

Tim Hudak stepped down as the leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party on July 2, 2014. Following his resignation, the PC caucus elected Simcoe-Grey MPP Jim Wilson as the interim leader. Although no date has been decided for the leadership election, preparations have begun to seek a new leader. So far, Whitby-Oshawa MPP Christine Elliot has declared her candidacy and other possible candidates include MPPs Lisa MacLeod, Vic Fedeli and Monte McNaughton.

Manitoba

James Beddome resigned as the leader of the Green Party of Manitoba on November 16, 2013 and Alain Landry was appointed as the interim leader. The date for the leadership election has not yet been decided.

Alberta

The Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta (PCAA) leadership race began when Alison Redford announced her resignation as the party leader and premier of Alberta on March 19, 2014. On March 20, 2014, caucus members elected Dave Hancock as interim leader and premier.

On June 2, 2014, the PCAA introduced Jim Prentice, Ric McIver and Thomas Lukaszuk as official leadership candidates. The leadership vote will be held on September 6, 2014 in a “two-round” voting system. If no candidate wins a clear majority, the two leading candidates will move to the second round of voting on September 20, 2014.

Alberta’s New Democratic Party leadership race began after Brian Mason announced his resignation as the party leader on April 29, 2014. The leadership election date is set for October 18 and 19, 2014. So far, Edmonton-Calder MLA David Eggen, Edmonton-Strathcona MLA Rachel Notley and former candidate Rod Loyola have declared their candidacy.

British Columbia

The Green Party of BC is still in the process of electing a new party leader.  Jane Sterk stepped down as the party leader on August 13, 2013 and Adam Olsen was appointed as the interim leader. No date has been finalized yet to formally elect the next party leader.

Assembly of First Nations (AFN)

Shawn Atleo resigned as the chief of Assembly of First Nations on May 2, 2014. During the 35th Annual AFN Conference in Halifax, native leaders voted to elect a new leader. Grand Chief David Harper of the Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak said “any of the candidates to replace Mr. Atleo will have to campaign on promises of reform.” The leadership vote will take place in Winnipeg this December.

Which leadership race are you most looking forward to?

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