TORONTO — Ontario's first female leader says the task of shattering glass ceilings "just got a little bit harder" after Hillary Clinton's loss to Donald Trump in the American election.
Premier Kathleen Wynne told The Canadian Press that she, like many other people, had hoped the United States would elect its first female president because it would have been inspiring for young women. But it's not like the path to equality hasn't taken hits before, she said.
"There have been many setbacks, and it's not like we were guaranteed this was the final step that had to be taken in breaking all glass ceilings," said the province's first female leader. "There's a lot of work to be done — unfortunately the task just got a little bit harder."
Wynne, echoing Clinton's concession speech Wednesday, said it's important not to get discouraged, even though it is easy to "because of some of the attitudes that were stirred up during the election campaign."
Trump supporters commonly wore T-shirts with slogans such as "Hillary sucks but not like Monica" and "Trump that Bitch." Trump called Clinton "such a nasty woman" during a debate. He suggested women accusing him of groping and other sexual misconduct were unattractive. He said that when he stood behind Clinton at a debate he "wasn't impressed."
"As a woman, my feeling was that I couldn't believe that we were hearing some of the language that we were hearing," Wynne said. "It's not that I'd never heard it before. It's not that I wasn't aware of it, it's just that it's 2016 and we were hearing it."
Clinton said Wednesday that America is more deeply divided than she and her supporters thought.
Wynne said she fears that divisions along not just gender, racial and many other lines were widened during the campaign and they will be difficult to bridge.
"We have to see this as a cautionary tale and the takeaway for me is that I believe that people in the United States voted against a system, against a government that they believe was not working for them, was not meeting their needs."
While Wynne is shocked by Trump's win, she said the United States is still the province's No. 1 trading partner so it is very important to keep the relationship intact.
The protectionist rhetoric during the campaign is worrying for Ontario, she said.
"Of course we have to look for other markets and we are doing that, that's what trade missions are about...So we recognize there are other markets we need to establish, but nothing will replace completely the American market, so that's work that has to be done," Wynne said.
She stressed a greater need for strong relationships with the states themselves, particularly in the context of a California-Quebec carbon market to which Ontario will soon be linked. But it was the subnational governments all along who have driven the push for climate change action, she said.
"So I don't despair completely."
— with files from The Associated Press