POLI 350: Women in Canadian Politics Report a Broken Link

Political Science 350: Women in Canadian Politics, is designed to introduce you to the study of women's participation in Canadian political life. As you work through the course, you will become familiar with a set of concepts, facts, and theories developed from a woman-centred point of view. You will be introduced to women's movement in Canada and you will explore issues of representation in democracy and its impact on public policy issues.

Unit 1: Feminism and the “I’m Not a Feminist, But” Phenomenon


Required Readings
Supplementary Readings

Unit 2: What Kinda Feminist Are Ya? Modern and Postmodern Feminist Theories


Required Readings

Unit 3: Ride the Wave: Feminism as a Social Movement


Required Readings
Video Clip 1: Call for the Bird Commission Resource Broadcast Date: Feb. 3, 1967

Just two weeks before the fact-finding mission officially kicks off, Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson answers questions on the Royal Commission's directives. Florence Bird, the appointed chairperson of the unprecedented commission, discusses the role of women in an urbanized society, and the legal and social status of Canadian women.

Courtesy of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

Accessible version of Video 1

Video Clip 2: Canadian Feminists Fight for Change Resource Broadcast Date: March 28, 1967

The Bird Commission has been in full swing for just over one month now and the subject of what women want is regarded with equal measures of derision and passion. The social vista is cluttered with suburban housewives, girls in go-go skirts, working mothers and frustrated reformers. Like it or not, the Bird Commission's findings are front-page news. Activist and Toronto alderman Laura Sabia tells the Commission that attitudes towards women must change.

Courtesy of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

Accessible version of Video 2

Video Clip 3: 10 Years Later: Perspective and Constitutional Change Resource

Ten years have passed since the Bird Commission released its final report. Some recommendations have succeeded while others still sit unresolved. Chairperson Florence Bird sits down with CBC host Patrick Watson to discuss the success of the Royal Commission and the prospect of entrenched Constitutional rights.

Courtesy of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

Accessible version of Video 3

Audio Clip 1: Women in the Labour Force Resource Broadcast Date: March 9, 1968 The Montreal YWCA offers training for women seeking to widen their horizons with second careers, says CBC reporter Marion McCormick. Program director Phyllis Poland explains that women need and want to make a meaningful contribution to society and she says they're finding their second niches in social work and libraries. But some voices of opposition say that this desire to move onward and upward is in fact woman's tragic flaw.

Courtesy of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
Audio Clip 2: French Canadian Women Demand Change Resource Broadcast Date: June 14, 1968 A woman's right to choose is key among the arguments the Bird Commission hears as it rolls through Quebec City and Montreal. In the predominantly Roman Catholic province, a surprising number of women are demanding change in the abortion and divorce laws. Helene Pilotte, associate editor of French Chatelaine, discusses the results of a recent survey that examined these issues.

Courtesy of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
Audio Clip 3: Status of Aboriginal Women Resource Broadcast Date: May 3, 1968 At the Commission hearing in Regina, an impassioned speech on the status of aboriginal women unexpectedly moves the crowd to tears. Mrs. Sam Lavallee articulates the breadth of problems women living on reserves must overcome. Life, she explains, is a constant renegotiating of stereotypes, expectations and entitlements.

Courtesy of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
Audio Clip 4: Farmwives Testify at Bird Commission Resource Broadcast Date: April 26, 1968 Fighting alongside their "urban sisters," women from rural regions of Canada appear before the Bird Commission public hearings in Edmonton to articulate a need for change. They disagree with property laws that prevent them from sharing equal ownership of their land with their husbands. The women also discuss a need for improved standards of living and more progressive abortion and contraception legislation.

Courtesy of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
Audio Clip 5: Reaction to Bird Commission Report Resource Broadcast Date: Dec. 9, 1970 It's 488 pages long and contains 167 recommendations — the Bird Commission's final report is at last issued and is being reviewed. Chairperson Florence Bird sits down with CBC host Pat Patterson and a young feminist Kelly Crichton to discuss the core of the report. But Bird and Crichton disagree on the tone of the report and whether it reached far enough in its aims and proposals.

Courtesy of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
Audio Clip 6: Bird Commission's 30th Anniversary Resource Broadcast Date: March 8, 2001 On International Women's Day 30 years after the Bird Commission's final report, CBC Radio's This Morning's Ralph Benmergui hosts a panel to evaluate progress and change. He speaks to Monique Bégin, former executive secretary of the Commission, and historian Barbara Freeman on what's been implemented, what's been neglected and differences in the old versus the new generation of feminists.

Courtesy of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
Audio Clip 7: Feminism in 2001 Broadcast Date: March 8, 2001 The Bird Commission and feminism are re-evaluated in 2001.

Courtesy of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

Unit 4: Good Girls Don’t: The Representation of Women in Politics


Required Readings

Unit 5: Getting There Is Half the Battle: Women in the Legislature


Required Readings

Unit 6: Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way: Women Leaders in Politics


Required Readings

Unit 7: More than Just a Pretty Face: Women in Public Policy


Required Readings

Burt, Sandra, Lorraine Code and Lindsay Dorney (Editors). Changing Patterns: Women in Canada, 2nd Edition. © Oxford University Press Canada 1993. Reprinted by permission of the publisher.

Unit 8: The Final Word


Supplementary Readings