12/08/2011 10:19 EST | Updated 02/07/2012 05:12 EST

NDP's Dewar Aims To Attract More Women To Politics


NDP leadership candidate Paul Dewar is pledging to bring back the per-vote subsidy for political parties, and says it should be tied to how many women candidates a party runs.

The Ottawa MP, one of nine candidates in the competition to succeed Jack Layton, says his idea would help ensure more equal participation of women in federal politics by creating an incentive for political parties.

"Women's representation in the House of Commons fails to reach the 30 per cent threshold, considered by the United Nations as the critical mass of women's participation in decision-making. This is a national disgrace," Dewar said in a news release Thursday. "My vision for a stronger and more caring Canada includes immediate action to encourage women's equal participation in politics."

The $2-per-vote subsidy that parties currently receive is being phased out by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, a financial blow to some parties more than others. The Conservatives estimate the taxpayer-funded subsidy cost $27.4 million in 2010. Parties with strong fundraising, including the Conservatives, don't rely on the subsidy for revenue as much as other parties.

If the NDP wins the next election, Dewar says as leader he would bring the subsidy back and parties would only get the full $2 if they run at least 50 per cent women candidates.

Parties with 40 to 49.9 per cent women would get $1.75 per vote, and those with 30 to 39.9 per cent would get $1.50 per vote. Parties with less than 30 per cent women on their list of candidates wouldn't be eligible for the subsidy under Dewar's plan.

"Stephen Harper is phasing out public financing because he doesn't believe in supporting a healthy and engaged democratic process," said Dewar. "I will bring back the public financing and tie it to parties' performance on ensuring gender equality. That's the way to end gender inequality in Canadian politics."

The NDP had the highest number of women candidates in the May election

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