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Clark encourages Women of Whistler

More women needed in political life in order to make change

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Former Deputy Premier Christy Clark was in Whistler last week giving advice on what to look for in candidates in the upcoming municipal elections.

Clark also spoke passionately at last Thursday’s Women of Whistler meeting of the need to get more women involved in politics. Only with more women in office can women start to change the double standards that still apply for male and female politicians, she said.

"We have to change the use of the word ‘ambitious’ as a pejorative term when it refers to women," said Clark.

She knows first hand the double standard.

Clark was first elected to the B.C. Legislature in 1996, where she was an opposition MLA. When the Liberals formed government in 2001 Clark was appointed Minister of Education and Deputy Premier. Three years later she was appointed Minister of Children and Family Development. She announced her resignation from provincial politics prior to last spring’s provincial election.

Clark, who has a four-year-old son, said there were some who questioned her decision to seek the NPA party’s nomination for mayor of Vancouver last month, suggesting she should stay at home to look after her family. No one, she added, would have questioned a male candidate with a young family.

"It’s a totally different standard that we apply to men and women," she said.

It’s quite possible in 2005 for women to be mothers and have full time jobs she reminded the room.

Among the crowd of mostly women at the meeting were some of the male candidates who are running for Whistler council this November. Clark offered the room some things to consider when deciding which candidates to support.

Candidates should be passionate about making change for the public good, she said. They should love interacting with people, shaking their hands and never knowing what they’re going to get back in return.

And they have to love risk, and be willing to gamble everything on an idea.

"You have to be an entrepreneur," she said. "You put all of yourself on the line."

That’s why she loves it so much.

Before she ran for office she sought advice from Sheila Copps and Linda Reid, but most of the people she talked to were men.

"We do need more women mentors in politics," she said.

Clark offered to mentor any women running for council or mayor in Whistler.

Of the seven members of Whistler’s current council, three are women. To date, however, there is only one woman running for council in the upcoming election, Councillor Marianne Wade, and one other running for mayor, Councillor Kristi Wells.

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