To the Editor:
As Canadians from coast to coast celebrate and recognize International Women’s Day, you might see the hashtag #BecauseOfYou appear on social media. It’s a fitting theme, and as a Progressive Conservative, one that encourages us to highlight the trailblazing women who have shaped not only our party, but our province.
I often find that the mainstream media leave out the meaningful stories and unrivalled contributions of conservative women. So I would be remiss if I didn’t take this opportunity to highlight those female PC caucus members whose authentic voices broke barriers, and inspired generations of women and girls who followed in their footsteps.
In 1960, Gladys Porter made history from what was once thought to be an impossibility. As the first woman elected to the Nova Scotia legislature and a proud Progressive Conservative, Ms. Porter led the way for the legislature as we see it today. Her accomplishments paved a path for all women in Nova Scotia to show that they too could have a formal role in governing our province.
In honour of her contribution, a PC Women’s Caucus was created, and through the Gladys Porter fund, female candidates have received financial support to assist in their campaign efforts. I, myself, have been the recipient of their financial assistance and support.
It’s because of women like Cora Etter that I’m proud to be a Progressive Conservative. In 1984, she was one of just three women in the legislature, and only the fifth woman ever to be elected. Cora was a passionate community leader and a pioneer for women who championed pay equity for women. In fact, when the PC government introduced this legislation in 1988 Cora reacted in the House with a spirited “Hallelujah”.
I’m thankful for the contributions of Maxine Cochran, the first woman to serve in the provincial cabinet as the Minister of Transportation, and Marie Dechman, the first female Deputy Speaker in the Nova Scotia Legislature. Both were Progressive Conservatives and both checked a box that had previously only been checked by men.
As president, I know we have a responsibility to build on the legacy of those who came before us. I feel immense pride to work with four talented female MLAs in our NSPC caucus: Barbara Adams, Karla MacFarlane, Kim Masland and Elizebeth Smith-McCrossin. With a history of female party presidents, interim leaders and of course two female candidates in our most recent party leadership race, I look forward to more strong women putting their name on the ballot and joining our team Province House.
The Progressive Conservative Party of Nova Scotia has secured its place in the history of strong women in this province, and I have no doubt this is only the beginning.
Julie Chaisson, President
Progressive Conservative Party of Nova Scotia