10/04/2015 08:24 EDT | Updated 10/04/2016 05:12 EDT

Call For Gender Parity In Politics Gets Support From Former Premier

AFP via Getty Images
Quebec Prime Minister Jean Charest meets with Liberal Party members on August 30, 2012 in Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada. Charest, who may lose the provincial general election next week, spoke with his Liberal party members and local personalities, but avoided demonstrators and canceled a visit at a local market where they were waiting for him. AFP PHOTO / Michel VIATTEAU (Photo credit should read MICHEL VIATTEAU/AFP/GettyImages)
Quebec should make more of an effort to reach gender parity when it comes to political office, says the province's Council on the Status of Women.

Council president Julie Miville-Dechêne said in a news release issued Sunday Quebec's political actors need to make the conscious choice to help women become more involved in government, adding that good intentions alone haven't really done much to improve parity.

The council said women should make up at least 40 per cent of a party's candidates.

Miville-Dechêne pointed out that women have only represented about 30 per cent of all political tiers, and even that number is slipping.

"The barriers to entry and to keeping women in politics are less visible than they were in the past, but they haven't disappeared," she said. "The inequality between men and women in shared family responsibilities, and the different ways girls and boys are socialized are still present."

Penalties for not respecting 'parity zone'

A quote in the news release from former Quebec premier Jean Charest supported the idea.

"The gender balance in politics is a question of fairness, I believe," he said.

The council is asking that the Quebec Elections Act be amended to require all Quebec political parties to ensure women candidates represent between 40 and 60 per cent of all candidates.

Parties that don't respect the "parity zone" would face financial penalties under the proposed rules.

Former ministers Louise Harel and Carole Théberge also voiced their support for the council's proposition.