TORONTO - About 70 per cent of Canadians think Kathleen Wynne's victory as Ontario's first female premier is a significant breakthrough for women in politics, a new poll suggests.
It includes 31 per cent who feel it's a very significant breakthrough, according to a national Canadian Press-Harris/Decima survey.
That compares to 17 per cent who felt it isn't that significant and 11 per cent who say it's not at all significant.
Women under the age of 35 and those living in Atlantic Canada and Quebec are most likely to view Wynne's victory as at least a significant breakthrough, the poll found.
Three-quarters of respondents felt women are well represented in politics, while 31 per cent feel they aren't. Conservatives are more likely than other voting groups to feel they're well represented.
Canada's sixth female premier said she agrees it's a breakthrough for women in politics.
While there's gender parity among premiers, women are still under-represented in the country's legislatures, Wynne said Monday.
The representation of women ranges from 10.5 per cent in the Northwest Territories to nearly 33 per cent in Quebec. Only 30 per cent of Ontario MPPs are women.
"There is a catchup that needs to happen," Wynne said.
"I hope that as we see female leadership across the country, we will see more representation in those legislatures and in Parliament."
While gender parity among the premiers is important symbolically, some political observers say it would be more significant if Wynne's position is cemented with an electoral win.
Wynne also made history as Canada's first openly gay premier, a milestone she acknowledged in her inaugural speech.
The poll indicates that Canadians are split on whether gays and lesbians are well represented in politics, with 44 per cent of respondents saying they are and 41 per cent saying they are not.
Of the 1,015 respondents surveyed, 58 per cent feel visible minorities are well represented, while 36 per cent say they aren't.
Quebec residents are less likely than others to feel visible minorities are well represented in politics, the poll found.
Men are more likely than women to feel that women and visible minorities are well represented in politics, it found.
Thirty-seven per cent of respondents feel aboriginals are represented well in politics, compared to 57 per cent who feel they aren't. Residents of Ontario and Quebec are much less likely than others to feel aboriginals are well represented in politics.
Conservatives and Liberals are more likely than other voting groups to feel aboriginals are well represented in politics.
Respondents were asked the question: "As you may know, Kathleen Wynne was recently elected the leader of the Liberal Party of Ontario and will be sworn in as Ontario's first female premier, and Canada's first openly gay premier. How significant a breakthrough for women in Canadian politics do you believe this is?"
The telephone poll was conducted between Jan. 31 and Feb. 4. The survey has a margin of error of 3.1 per cent, 19 times out of 20.
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Eva Aariak — Nunavut
Aariak, 58, worked as a journalist, operated a retail store and also served as the first languages commissioner of Nunavut before deciding to seek election in 2008. Aariak said she was "floored" and "disappointed" about being the only woman elected that year, and suggested the territory revisit a proposal for gender parity in the 19-member legislature. Aariak was chosen premier under the territory's consensus style government, and was sworn in as Nunavut's second premier and first female leader in Nov. 2008. She has four children and three grandchildren. <em>— The Canadian Press</em>
Kathy Dunderdale — Newfoundland and Labrador (Progressive Conservative)
The 60-year-old was a town councillor and deputy mayor of Burin before being elected to the legislature in 2003. She served as minister of innovation, trade, rural development, natural resources and as deputy premier. She was sworn in as the province's first female premier in Dec. 2010 after her highly-popular predecessor resigned. Dunderdale became Newfoundland and Labrador's first elected woman premier less than a year later, leading the Conservatives to a third consecutive majority government in Oct. 2011. She is widowed with two children.
Alison Redford — Alberta (Progressive Conservative)
The 47-year-old lawyer was first elected in 2008, after working for former prime ministers Joe Clark and Brian Mulroney. She also travelled the globe instituting democratic reforms in places like Mozambique, Namibia and South Africa. Redford served as justice minister before winning the party leadership and being sworn in as premier in Oct. 2011. She led the Progressive Conservatives to another majority victory in a provincial election in 2012, an upset after a slew of polls had suggested the Wildrose party was en route to ending the PC dynasty. Redford is married and has one daughter, Sarah.
Christy Clark — British Columbia (Liberal)
Clark became the second woman to serve as B.C. premier when she took office in March 2011, 20 years after Rita Johnston — the first female premier in Canada. The Sorbonne-educated politician was first elected to the legislature in 1996 and was appointed deputy premier and minister of education in 2001. The 47-year-old took a break for five years in 2005, working as a columnist and radio show host, but returned to politics in 2010 in a successful bid for the leadership of the Liberal party.
Pauline Marois — Quebec (Parti Quebecois)
Marois was a social services administrator, political attache and university professor before entering politics. She was first elected to the legislature in 1981 and held various cabinet portfolios in PQ governments, including finance, health, and education, as well as deputy premier for two years. She twice lost the leadership — in 1985 and 2005 — but was acclaimed as PQ leader in 2007. She lost the 2008 election, but led her party to a minority victory in Sept. 2012. Marois, 63, is married with four children.