Female candidates offer important perspective in Sask. election
REGINA -- The Regina University constituency is a rematch of a close race from 2016.
Saskatchewan Party Incumbent MLA Tina Beaudry-Mellor edged out Aleana Young from the NDP by just over 400 votes. Both candidates are vying for the seat again in 2020, and they’re hard at work.
“The main thing that I'm focused on is actually getting out on doorsteps and talking to people. As much as we can go out, weather and baby permitting, we’ll be out there knocking doors from probably early afternoon until it's late enough that people don't want to answer the door,” explained Young on a break from door knocking in Regina’s Whitmore Park neighbourhood.
The owner of “Takeaway Gourmet,” a local specialty cheese shop, has served as a Regina Public School Board Trustee since 2012. She’s expecting her first child later this year.
“I’m really lucky I think as a candidate, I have represented this area for eight years as the trustee. And I do know a lot of folks from my business as well. So I found a lot of people on the doorstep know me as their cheese lady,” Young said.
Regina University is one of five provincial ridings where the two main party candidates are women.
“I think women bring something different and not all women are the same and not all women will bring the same thing but you know that the more diversity you have around the table on all of those fronts. I think the better policy results,” Beaudry-Mellorsaid.
Shewas elected MLA for Regina University in 2016, and served as a Cabinet Minister under Scott Moe. Prior to politics, she worked as an instructor in the Department of Politics and International Studies at the University of Regina.
“I’m a working mom of two kids so I have experience with the elementary system, the high school system with childcare, now with University being largely online, having taught at the University myself. I bring those things to the table. I also have a really clear sense of things that we need to do from an innovation perspective to grow the economy going forward and diversify. My portfolio in the tech space and in innovation is really important,” Beaudry-Mellor said.
Beaudry-Mellor has served on the board of Equal Voice, a group advocating for more women in politics. She said she has spoken on several panels and approached several potential candidates to run but is often turned down.
The Saskatchewan Party’s full slate of 61 candidates includes 11 women. Beaudry-Mellor admits the party has to work for better representation in its candidates but said she’s proud of her colleagues, citing long time MLA Donna Harpauer.
“We have the longest-serving cabinet minister in Canada right now, who is also the Minister of Finance. At a time like this. That's actually a pretty remarkable role, right, a pretty incredible role, and I think the visibility of her in that role is really important.”
The provincial New Democrats said 23 per cent of its candidates are Indigenous. Nearly half of the candidates running for the NDP in 2020, 29 of 61, are female.
“I’m proud to be part of a team that is so representative of people in the province. We have First Nations candidates we have female candidates,” said Young. “The more people who run that look like the people in this province and have experiences like normal everyday people in the province, the better it is for all of us.”
As a female small-business owner, Young feels she can relate to some who may be struggling, and after three consecutive Saskatchewan Party governments, looking for a change.
“People are facing losing their houses, losing their jobs, people are out of work. We've seen predominantly women, struggling. As retail sectors have been hit disproportionately. I don't know why we would want to look at austerity.”
While Beaudry-Mellor has a different approach to economic recovery and growth, she agrees with Young on the importance of diverse voices in decision making.
“I can think of so many conversations that have had so much more nuance and colour to them, because of the people around the table and it's not just gender. It's cultural background, it's rural and urban it's, you know, lawyers and business owners,” recalled Beaudry-Mellor.