How diverse are Edmonton's federal election candidates?

Voters enter the polling station at St. Luigi Catholic School during election day in Toronto on Monday, October 21, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Tijana Martin

Women and visible minorities are under-represented among candidates in the Edmonton-area for the upcoming federal election, according to analysis from CTV News.

A review of Elections Canada data and websites and social media profiles for 56 candidates shows white men are most likely to be running for office across 10 Edmonton-area ridings.

  • Centre
  • Griesbach
  • Manning
  • Mill Woods
  • Riverbend
  • Strathcona
  • West
  • Edmonton-Wetaskiwin
  • St. Albert-Edmonton
  • Sherwood Park-Fort Saskatchewan

Women candidates are outnumbered by a nearly two-to-one ratio compared to male candidates, with 19 women on ballots compared to 37 men.

“This confirms a reality in Canadian politics, that there is still a gap in terms of representation of women and minorities in the political systems,” said MacEwan University political scientist Chaldeans Mensah.

Most parties had close to a gender-balanced roster of Edmonton candidates.

Among the major parties, the Liberals have four women running and the New Democrats have five.

For a second straight election, all 10 Conservative Party candidates in the listed Edmonton area ridings are men.

Edmonton Griesbach has the most women running with four. There are no women candidates running in Edmonton-Wetaskiwin.

Women make up almost exactly 50 per cent of the population, according to the most recent national census.

“The major challenge for the parties is recruiting, making a concerted effort to recruit women, and putting them in winnable ridings where they can have a chance,” said Mensah.

“All parties have a responsibility to encourage more representation of women in politics.”

Visible minorities are similarly unrepresented among candidates compared to population statistics.

Forty-six of the 56 candidates are white, or about 82 per cent of those running in the 10 Edmonton-area ridings.

Mensah says similar to women, diverse candidates face struggles entering the political process and often draw abuse because of their background.

“That stuff can be very scary,” said Mensah. “It really discourages people from entering politics.”

The NDP has the most non-white Edmonton-area candidates with four, followed by the Liberals and Conservatives with three each.

The census shows about 27 per cent of Edmontonians are a visible minority, including those of Indigenous backgrounds.

“I think there is this kind of widespread agreement that there is value to having diverse voices represented in Parliament,” said Mensah.

“We need to have the political parties be more proactive in recruiting people from diverse backgrounds.”