When 2014 began, Canada had 5 female premiers in its 10 provinces. By mid-April, that figure could be down to 2.
Alison Redford became the second female premier to resign in 2014, effective yesterday.
Redford's resignation in Alberta proved controversial. She fought against repaying $45,000 to travel to Nelson Mandela's funeral, though Redford did eventually repay the money. There were also defections in the Alberta legislature from the Progressive Conservatives and questions about Redford's managerial style.
Dave Hancock will take over as Alberta premier until a new PC leader is elected. That new premier isn't likely to be a woman. Redford only lasted 29 months in the position.
Kathy Dunderdale resigned in January after 4 years in power in Newfoundland and Labrador.
"Just as you know when it's time to step up, you also know when it is time to step back, and that time for me is now," said Dunderdale. She later resigned her seat in the legislature on February 28.
The interim Conservative premier, Tom Marshall, has no desire to remain in power. But the next premier will also be a man. And Dunderdale also had concerns about leadership style and declining approval ratings.
Pauline Marois is Quebec's premier, though Quebec will have a provincial election on April 7. Unlike Redford's situation, the fate of Marois and the PQ has more to do with sovereignty than gender. The Quebec Liberals are run by Philippe Couillard.
Of the 2 female premiers guaranteed to be in charge beyond mid-April, Christy Clark of British Columbia pulled off a long shot last year to have the Liberals remain in power, and Kathleen Wynne has a minority government for the Liberals in Ontario.
Eva Aariak was the premier on Nunavut from 2008-2013. Aariak chose not to run for another term as premier, but wanted to stay in the legislature. However, she lost her riding in 2013.
Dunderdale and Redford also suffered from having a party in charge for some time. Redford certainly isn't the only PC premier in Alberta to get tossed out recently. The PC MPs in Alberta who revolted might not done so, even with the same behavior in the premier's office, if a male was the premier. And whatever we all might think about gender and power, rewarding immature behavior is never good.
An all-female battle for premier is rare but has happened. Wynne's chief rival was Sandra Pupatello, though Pupatello didn't have a seat in the Ontario legislature during the leadership race. Redford's rival in the last Alberta election was Danielle Smith, leader of the Wildrose Party.
Smith weighed in on the political element of Redford's resignation, but also offered a personal note.
"Let’s never doubt the commitment of any leader who puts their province ahead of themselves and their families to serve. Premier Redford gave everything she had to the job she was elected to do and for that she should be proud. For that, we should be thankful."
The difference between the Progressive Conservatives and the Wildrose Party isn't that far apart, especially outside of Alberta. Smith's gesture is part of what can be the best of when women are in charge politically: respect but still have disagreements over policy.
Some of the accusations against Dunderdale and Redford were about behavior often found in male politicians, but a system that rewards that behavior more in male politicians. Canada has shown that equality can exist in politics, but making that last will still take more time.
video credit: YouTube/YourAlberta