Skip to Main Content
Banner image for Mount Allison University Libraries and ArchivesBanner image link to Mount Allison UniversityMount Allison University Libraries and ArchivesImage Map
Hours | Libraries Home | Music Library | University Archives

Canadian Govt. & Politics: Women — Primary Sources

Women in Contemporary Canadian Government and Politics: Selected Primary Sources and their Finding Aids

The following are selected key primary sources and examples of the kinds of primary sources available for the study of women in contemporary Canadian government and politics. They supplement the general sources listed in the main parts of this guide

What Was Said: (Quotations, speeches, interviews, hearings, in Parliament)

Speeches. Library and Archives Canada.

The Library and Archives Canada has the largest collection of speeches by Canadian members of government and private individuals. For example, there are several collections of Flora MacDonald's speeches, and sound recordings of radio and television interviews. Search the Library and Archives Canada union catalogue and Collection Search page to find more published and unpublished collections of speeches.

Gifts of Speech: Women's Speeches from Around the World. By Liz Kent, Sweet Briar College.

A keyword searchable database of selected speeches by women from around the world, dating from 1848 to 2009. Canadian political speeches included are by Audrey McLaughlin and Mary Pena, a Shuswap activitist.

Great Canadian Speeches - Feminist Speeches.

A sub-set of the Great Canadian Speeches website accompanying the book of the same name has eight speeches by women, three from the post-WWII period by Monique Bégin, Adrienne Clarkson, and Mary Eberts.

See also Recorded Images for interviews and speeches captured on film, video and tape.

Debates in Parliament.

Use the Index to the Debates or search the Parliament website (see Selected Primary Sources in the main part of this guide for details) to find the discussions related to women or speeches by women Parliamentarians. Most references will be indexed under "Women", but depending on your topic you may need to search under other terms as well, or speaker's name.

Equality First: The Royal Commission on the Status of Women. CBC Archives.

Included in this website are radio and television clips of the Prime Minister calling for the Royal Commission on the Status of Women and interviews of prominent women. There are also radio clips from the Royal Commission hearings, and related information.

Speeches, Statements, Press Releases by federal and provincial Ministers responsible for the Status of Women and by Advisory Councils.

Search library catalogues for years predating the material available on their websites. See Women - Finding & Evaluating - Government Information for links to selected websites.

What Was Written:

Political Party Publications | Government Publications | Law and Court Reports

Political Party Publications: (Campaign literature, special collections)

Campaign Literature for Conservative Leadership Convention, February 19-22, 1976. By Flora MacDonald. Ottawa: s.n., 1976. (1 box of material held at the Library of Parliament.)

Initiatives: A Strategic Plan Towards 1990. National Progressive Conservative Women's Federation. Ottawa: NPCWF, 1989.

The Pink Book: A Policy Framework for Canada's Future. Liberal Women's Caucus. Vol. 1, 2006. 29 p., Vol. 2, 2007, 28 p., Vol. 3: The Pink Book: An Action Plan for Canadian Women. 2009, 35 p.

Report of the Leader's Task Force on Women in the Progressive Conservative Party. Toronto: Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario, 1986. 47 p.

The Canadian Women's Movement Archives. University of Ottawa.

Established in 1982, this collection was acquired by the U. of Ottawa in 1992 and has been added to since. It includes newsletters, reports, posters, t-shirts, banners, buttons, and other records submitted by women's groups to document their history. A finding aid for politics-related material is available in pdf. The U. of Ottawa also houses related collections.

The Canadian Women's Movement, 1960-1990: A Guide to Archival Resources. Ed. by Margaret Fulford. Toronto: ECW Press, 1992. 380 p.

This bilingual guide describes the information held by archives and women's groups across the country, including the records of political parties' women's committees, the Feminist Party of Canada, Women for Political Action, etc. Use the subject index in the back to look up an organization name or general subject terms like "politics", "political parties", etc.

Electronic Manifestos Canada. POLTEXT. Center for Public Policy Analysis, Laval University.

A digitized collection of federal and provincial party platforms from the major political parties in Canada, with some holdings  from 1945 to the present. You can search the collection for references to women's issues. (A search on POLTEXT also includes some government  sources such as Throne Speeches, budget-related speeches, and Auditor General reports.)

Political Party Publications | Government Publications

Government Publications: (Royal Commission reports, task force reports, government department and agency reports, policy papers, Parliamentary documents, law and court reports)

Royal Commission Reports | Task Force Reports | Government Department and Agency Reports | Policy Papers | Parliamentary Documents | Law and Court Reports

Royal Commissions and Related Reports:

Report of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women in Canada. Florence Bird, Chair. Ottawa: Information Canada, 1970. 488 p.

Among many other things, this important Royal Commission looked at the number of women elected to federal and provincial Parliaments. It helped to re-energize the women's movement in Canada and demands for policy changes in the following decades by providing statistics and a framework for action with its 167 recommendations. See Chapter 7: "Participation of Women in Public Life".

Briefs and Transcripts of Public Hearings: Royal Commission on the Status of Women. Toronto: Micromedia Ltd. (microfilm)

Briefs are filmed in order by their brief number.

Index to Briefs and Transcripts of Public Hearings. Toronto: Micromedia Ltd., 1972. 15 leaves.

This is the index for the microfilmed edition of the briefs and transcripts of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women.

Unpublished Studies of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women in Canada. Ottawa: Public Archives of Canada, 1972. 12 reels? microfilm.

These are all the unpublished documents of the Royal Commission; includes an index.

Women in Canadian Politics: Toward Equity in Representation. Ed. by Kathy Megyery. Vol. 6 of the Research Studies, Canada. Royal Commission on Electoral Reform and Party Financing. Pierre Lortie, Chair. Ottawa: Dundurn Press Ltd. and Canada Communication Group–Publishing, Supply and Services Canada, 1991, 182 p. (Also published in French under the title: Les Femmes et la politique canadienne: pour une représentation équitable.)

Many of the same findings of the 1970 Royal Commission on the Status of Women in Canada are listed here as still being an issue, 20 years later.

Royal Commission Reports | Task Force Reports | Government Department and Agency Reports | Policy Papers | Parliamentary Documents | Law and Court Reports

Task Force Reports:

Equality for Women: Beyond the Illusion. Final Report of the Expert Panel on Accountability Mechanisms for Gender Equality - December 2005.. Status of Women Canada, 2006. 66 p.

Beneath the Veneer: The Report of the Task Force on Barriers to Women in the Public Service. Pat Carney, Chair. Ottawa: The Task Force, 1990. 4 vols. (v.1: Report and Recommendations, v. 2: What the Numbers Told Us, v.3: What the People Told Us, v.4: Annotated Bibliography)

Responding to Beneath the Veneer: How Departments and Agencies are Addressing the Recommendations of the Task Force on Barriers to Women. Ottawa: Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, 1991. 65 p.

Royal Commission Reports | Task Force Reports | Government Department and Agency Reports | Policy Papers | Parliamentary Documents | Law and Court Reports

Government Department and Agency Reports:

Women and Gender Equality Canada Publications. (Formerly Status of Women Canada.)

WAGE  was created in 2018 as the federal department to replace Status of Women Canada mandated since 1976 to promote gender equality and the full participation of women in, among other things, the political life of the country. WAGE's mandate is to promote the inclusion of all people in Canada’s economic, social, and political life. Available from the homepage are some recent publications including the latest Departmental Performance Reports and Report on Plans and Priorities. Search library catalogues or Government of Canada Publications for older documents. Some examples:

Calling Men and Boys In: What we Heard: Report from the Roundtables on Engaging Men and Boys to Advance Gender Equality. Ottawa: Women and Gender Equality Canada, 2019. 24 p.

Canada-United States Free Trade Agreement and Women. Ottawa: Status of Women Canada, 1988. 52 p.

First Nations Women, Governance and the Indian Act: A Collection of Policy Research Documents. By Judith F. Sayers et al. Ottawa: Status of Women Canada, 2001. 166 p.

Gender Results Framework: Leadership and Democratic Participation. The GRF, introduced in 2018, identified six areas needing work to advance gender equality. Leadership and Democratic Participation is one of the six areas. The web page links to information and tools to see the objectives, indicators to measure the problem and define what is needed, and to track progress.

Documents related to the UN World Conferences on Women: (held in Mexico City, 1975, Copenhagen, 1980, Nairobi, 1985, Beijing, 1995) to advance equality for women. At the 1995 Conference, the Government of Canada was among 189 countries that adopted the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, an agreement and blueprint for action to achieve gender equality in 12 areas of concern, including "women in power and decision-making". Canada's commitment to the Beijing Declaration is expressed in the "Setting the Stage" report below. Each nation has also agreed to submit 5-year reviews of their progress in implementing their commitments:

Setting the Stage for the Next Century: The Federal Plan for Gender Equality. Status of Women Canada, 1995. 71 p.

Fact Sheets: Nairobi Forward-Looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women: Issues and the Canadian Situation: Fact Sheets. Ottawa: Status of Women Canada, 1986. 95 p. and Fact Sheet Updates: 1988, 1990, 1992, 1995. (Prepared for the Canadian delegation to the UN World Conference on Women.) e.g. Women in Power and Decision-making. Beijing +10 Fact Sheet. Ottawa: Status of Women Canada, 2005. 2 p.

Canada's National Reviews: (Scroll down to "Follow-up to "Beijing" and for each review year, select Canada from the Country list.) The 5th report:

Implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (1995) in the Context of the Twenty-fifth Anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women: Canada's National Review. May 2019. 124 p.


Canadian Advisory Council on the Status of Women (CACSW) Publications. (1973-1995.)

The Advisory Council was created by the government as an autonomous agency to advise the federal government and provide information for the public. In its time it published a great deal of influential research on women. Some sample documents:

Electoral Systems and Representative Legislatures. By Lisa Young. Ottawa: CACSW, 1994. 54 p.

The Equality Game: Women in the Federal Public Service (1908-1987). By Nicole Morgan. Ottawa: CACSW, 1988. 70 p.

Every Voice Counts: A Guide to Personal and Political Action. Ottawa: CACSW, 1989. 69 p.

A Feminist Guide to the Canadian Constitution. By Lynn Smith and Eleanor Wachtel. Ottawa: CACSW, 1992. 80 p.

Primed for Power: Women in Canadian Politics. By Chantal Maille. Background Paper. Ottawa: CACSW, 1990. 50 p.

Shocking Pink Paper 1988: Women Want More Than Promises. Ottawa: CACSW, 1988. 15 p. (A lobbying tool for women in the federal election.)

Shocking Pink Paper 1993: Promises are Not Enough... Women Want Action!. Ottawa: CACSW, 1993. 31 p.

Ten Years Later: An Assessment of the Federal Government's Implementation of the Recommendations Made by the Royal Commission on the Status of Women. Ottawa: CACSW, 1979. 75 p.

Women, Human Rights and the Constitution: Submission of the Canadian Advisory Council on the Status of Women to the Special Joint Committee on the Constitution, November 18, 1980. Ottawa: CACSW, 1980. 34 p.

Women in Politics: Becoming Full Partners. Background Paper. Ottawa: CACSW, 1987, Revised ed. 1988. 26 p.

Women in the Public Service: Barriers to Equal Opportunity. Ottawa: CACSW, 1979. 80p.

Provincial / Territorial Equivalents. Each province and territory has a Minister responsible for women's issues and some still have an Advisory Council. See Women - Finding & Evaluating for links to their websites and tips to finding the documents they published. Some sample publications:

Report on Female Participation on Boards, Commissions, Committees and Crown Corporations in Saskatchewan. Saskatchewan Advisory Council on the Status of Women, 1981, and Partners for the Future. SACSW, 1992. (on the same topic.)

Submission to the Electoral Reform Commission. Prince Edward Island Advisory Council on the Status of Women. July 2003. 9 p.

Untapped Resources: Women and Municipal Government in Nova Scotia. Final Report of the Women in Local Government Project. By Elizabeth Haggart and Kristel vom Scheidt. Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women. Oct. 2005. 50 p.

We, the Undersigned, a Historical Overview of New Brunswick Women's Political and Legal Status, 1784-1984. New Brunswick Advisory Council on the Status of Women. 1985. 147 p.

Women and Electoral Reform in New Brunswick. Brief Present to the New Brunswick Commission on Legislative Democracy. New Brunswick Advisory Council on the Status of Women. July 2004. 47 p.

Women in the House: A Reader on New Brunswick Women in the Legislative Assembly. New Brunswick Advisory Council on the Status of Women. 2010. 44 p.

Royal Commission Reports | Task Force Reports | Government Department and Agency Reports | Policy Papers | Parliamentary Documents | Law and Court Reports
Policy Papers:

Policy statements can appear in many forms: government press releases, speeches, and various kinds of documents. Some examples:

Action Plan on Gender-based Analysis (2016-2020).

The federal government's responses to the Auditor General of Canada's 2015 recommendations, reaffirming its commitment to GBA.

Setting the Stage for the Next Century: The Federal Plan for Gender Equality. Ottawa: Status of Women Canada, 1995. 71 p.

Presented at the 4th United Nations World Conference on Women as Canada's National Action Plan to advance the situation of women under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.
For other documents related to this Convention: Canada's Response to the Secretary-General's Questionnaire to Governments Implementing the Beijing Platform for Action, Country Report (note Part II, Article 7 lists measures adopted by the Government of Canada on women in politics and public life), and tables comparing the compliance of all signatory countries, see
or the newer site:    (See more details on the Convention below under "Law & Legislation")

Towards Equality for Women. Ottawa: Supply and Services Canada, 1979, 42 p.

This is the federal government's commitment and plan of action to equalize opportunities for women in 1979. It includes specific changes planned to legislation, policies and programs.

Royal Commission Reports | Task Force Reports | Government Department and Agency Reports | Policy Papers | Parliamentary Documents | Law and Court Reports

Parliamentary Documents:

Committee Reports: Standing parliamentary committees exist on important topics of ongoing concern such as the environment, aboriginal affairs, finance, etc. They are independent of the related ministries and include members of both the governing party and others. Their studies and reports can be very useful research material.

The Standing Committee on Health and Welfare, Social Affairs, Seniors and the Status of Women existed in the early 1990's but has since been disbanded. Some sub-committees have also tackled specific issues. For example: Parliamentary Sub-Committee on Equality Rights, 1985 and the Sub-Committee on Indian Women and the Indian Act of the Standing Committee on Indian Affairs and Northern Development, 1982.

In the fall of 2004 a new Standing Committee on the Status of Women was created. The website: includes information on the committee, its members, meeting schedule, contact information, its studies, reports, news releases, a list of the witnesses who appeared before the committee, and the transcripts of the meetings, called "Evidence". You can also sign up for email notification of any new committee information to appear on the site. Sample committee reports:

Elect Her: A Roadmap for Improving the Representation of Women in Canadian Politics. April 2019.104p.

Implementing Gender-Based Analysis Plus in the Government of Canada. June 2016. 61 p.

NOTE: Women's groups and government bodies submit briefs to many committees informing them of the impact of proposed legislation on women. These may be found as part of the committee Evidence, on the group's or committee's website, or in library catalogues by authoring body.


Other Parliamentary Documents: Use the Finding & Evaluating Government Information and Selected Primary Sources sections of the main part of this guide for more details on searching the Parliament of Canada website, or selected parts such as the Debates, Parliamentary Journals, etc. for bills, questions asked in Parliament, etc. Sample documents:

Dear Mr. Minister, Equal Opportunities - Why Not? By a group of concerned Canadian women. Ottawa: s.n., 1978. 18 p.

This is an example of a petition presented to the House of Commons by an M.P., Mr. David MacDonald, on behalf of the petitioners. Note: The government response must also be tabled, see below:

Implementing Gender-based Analysis. Auditor General of Canada. Report 1, Fall 2015.

The Auditor General's report to Parliament on an audit examining whether gender-based analysis was being performed in selected federal departments, and on the government's progress on recommendations from the 2009 spring report on the subject.

Information and Statistical Data Regarding Equal Opportunities for Women in the Public Service of Canada. Ottawa: Public Service Commission, Information Services Directorate, 1978. 13 leaves.

This is in response to "Dear Mr. Minister, Equal Opportunities - Why Not?", tabled in the House of Commons Feb. 17, 1978.

Royal Commission Reports | Task Force Reports | Government Department and Agency Reports | Policy Papers | Parliamentary Documents | Law and Court Reports

Law & Legislation and Court Reports:

Since 1985, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, part of Canada's Constitution, has guaranteed equal rights to women and men, and special measures to correct past discrimination on the basis of sex. Discrimination is also prohibited by the federal and all provincial Human Rights Acts.

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Canadian Gender Budgeting Act (S.C. 2018, c. 27, s. 314).

Requires all federal budgeting decisions to take gender equality and diversity into account.

Legal Instruments of Equality for Women. Status of Women Canada.

Describes and links to the legal instruments that exist at the federal level: The Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Canadian Human Rights Act, Section 15 of the Charter, Employment Equity Act, and the Public Sector Equitable Compensation Act.

Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Considered a bill of rights for women, this convention, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1979 and ratified by the Government of Canada in December 1981, commits countries to ensuring that women are not discriminated against in any field, including politics and government. Countries that have ratified this convention are legally bound to put its provisions into practice. They must also submit a national report at least every four years detailing the measures taken to comply with the treaty obligations. The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women is the UNHCR body that monitors implementation of the Convention. The Government of Canada's reports, the Committee's observations and list of issues, Canada's reply, information submitted by civil society organizations and the Canadian Human Rights Commission, any follow-up and summary reports, all the documents related to a reporting cycle and the Optional Protocol are included in the UN Treaty Body Database available from this CEDAW Committee site. These reports and the committee concerns expressed provide valuable insight into the state of women's equality in Canada.
Select country: Canada, then select CEDAW to access the documents. Reports and documents are available on and around these dates:  1985, 1990, 1997, 2004, 2008, 2016, 2019.
Some of Canada's reports include a list of relevant court cases, e.g. the 5th report, covering 1994 to 1998, lists SCC cases on p.15-17. The 2007 combined 6th and 7th report includes a "Review of Jurisprudence" appendix listing the Supreme Court, Provincial Court and Human Rights Tribunal cases for the reporting period.

Instruments of International Law Concerning Women. Inter-Parliamentary Union.

This page links to the text of selected international conventions, declarations, covenants and other legal instruments specifically relevant to women's rights, including full participation in politics and government. The IPU encourages Parliaments to ensure their legislation conforms to the provisions of these legal instruments.

International Instruments and Treaty Bodies.WomenWatch.

A UN collection of links to legal instruments and other relevant international standards relating to women's human rights and gender equality,

Supreme Court of Canada Decisions:

Supreme Court Justice Bertha Wilson (1982-1991), the first woman appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada, was responsible for many important decisions especially with regard to the new Charter of Rights and Freedoms. See  Primary Sources in the main part of this guide for details on accessing Supreme Court decisions.

The Fifth Report of Canada (below) Part II: Article 2(c): Protection of Women's Legal Rights for a summary listing of important Supreme Court of Canada cases relating to women's equality for the period April 1994 to March 1998. (Updated in subsequent reports.)

Superior Court of Ontario Case Against Canada's Election Law (The "Green Party Case"). University of Toronto Test Case Centre.

This website details the constitutional challenge launched against the Canada Elections Act by Joan Russow and the Green Party of Canada, claiming Canada's winner-take-all system (as opposed to proportional representation) violates Canada's constitution and results in systematic under-representation of women. (A request to refer the case directly to the Supreme Court of Canada was declined in 2001.) This site, hosted by the Bora Laskin Law Library, links to the case, information about it, and the scholarly material filed as exhibits in support of the claim. 


Personal Papers:

The following are selected examples of first-hand accounts (published as autobiographies, or unpublished records found in archives) written by some of the women and women's groups involved in Canadian government and politics.



Bird, Florence. Anne Francis: An Autobiography. Toronto: Clarke, Irwin, 1974. 324 p.

Brown, Rosemary. Being Brown: A Very Public Life. Toronto: Ballantine Books, 1990. 246 p.

Campbell, Kim. Time and Chance: The Political Memoirs of Canada's First Woman Prime Minister. Toronto: Doubleday, 1996. 434 p.

Carney, Patricia. Trade Secrets: A Memoir. Toronto: Key Porter, 2002. 382 p.

Casgrain, Therese. A Woman in a Man's World. Translated by Joyce Marshall. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1972. 192 p.

Fairclough, Ellen Louks. Saturday's Child: Memoirs of Canada's First Female Cabinet Minister. Ed. & intro. by Margaret Conrad. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1995. 179 p.

LaMarsh, Judy. Memoirs of a Bird in a Gilded Cage. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1969. 367 p.

May, Elizabeth. Who We Are: Reflections on My Life and Canada. Greystone Books, 2014. 224 p.

McLachlin, Beverley. Truth be Told: The Story of My Life and My Fight for Equality. Simon & Schuster, 2020. 384 p.

McLaughlin, Audrey. A Woman's Place: My Life in Politics. Toronto: McFarlane Walter & Ross, 1992. 223 p.

Pennington, Doris, ed. A Brave and Glorious Adventure: The Letters and Speeches of Agnes Macphail. Toronto: Simon & Pierre, 1989.


Florence Bird Fonds. National Archives. (Includes personal papers, speeches, articles, broadcasts, manuscripts, awards, records and correspondence relating to the Royal Commission on the Status of Women, etc.)

Flora MacDonald Fonds, 1926-1993. National Archives. (Includes many records from her political carreer including speeches, correspondence, clippings, audiocassettes, video, film, cartoons, prints, photographs and more.)

Dorothy Zaborsky Fonds, 1979-1990. J. N. Desmarais Library, Laurentian University. (An active member of the Feminist Party of Canada and researcher in the field of women and politics, this fonds includes DZ's notes, articles, speeches, correspondence and printed materials.)

National Action Committee on the Status of Women (NAC). 1971 - 2007. Rise Up! A Digital Archive of Feminist Activism.

Canada's largest and most vocal feminist organization made up of a coalition of women's groups lobbied government, published research, organized conferences, etc. For the 1993 and 1997 federal elections they published the NAC Voter's Guide, outlining the major parties' responses to questions raised by NAC policy committees.  The Rise Up! Archive has information about NAC, its Presidents, and many of their digitized documents.

Use the Library and Archives Canada Collection Search page and limit to the Archives to see the descriptions of unpublished collections held.

Archival collections are being digitized by many other smaller archives and organizations. See the Finding Primary Sources section of the main part of this guide for links.

Recorded Images (Film and video footage, photographs):

Film, video footage:

Audrey McLaughlin: A Leadership Convention. Toronto: CBC Educational Sales, 1993. Focus North Series. 1 videocassette (28 min., 50 sec.).

Shows the 1989-1990 leadership race in which Audrey McLaughlin was the first woman and the first northerner to lead a major national political party.

Contsitute! By Susan Bazilli. International Women's Rights Project (IWRP). 33 min.

An excellent documentary film telling the story with original archival footage and interviews of women involved in the largest mobilization of women in Canadian history in the 20th century, as women fought to gain stronger equality provisions in the newly repatriated Constitution’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Sections 15 and 28).

Flora: Scenes From a Leadership Convention. People and Power Series. Montreal: National Film Board of Canada, 1977. 1 videocassette (58 min. 33 sec.)

This film focuses on Flora MacDonald's campaign at the 1976 Progressive Conservative Party leadership convention.

Jeanne Sauvé, a Woman of Firsts. CBC Archives. 9 TV clips, 7 radio clips.

A selection of short TV and radio clips include interviews and public appearances.

Kim Campbell: Through the Looking Glass. Ed. by Greg West. Montreal : National Film Board of Canada, c2000. 1 videocassette (71 min.).

This film documents Ms. Campbell's campaign in the 1993 federal election. It includes never-before-seen interviews with her, her family, colleagues and members of the media.

A Love Affair with Politics: A Portrait of Marion Dewar. Toronto: National Film Board of Canada, 1987. 1 16 mm. film reel (27 min.).

Filmed while she was Mayor of Ottawa, Ms. Dewar speaks of her political career and broader issues of power, peace, leadership styles, women's roles, etc.

Native Women: Politics. 2003. DVD and Streaming. (25 min.) Preview online.

A documentary produced by Richard Hersley. Includes historical footage and interviews with current women leaders on rebuilding balanced self-government in their communities.

Reflections on a Leadership Convention. People and Power Series. Montreal: National Film Board of Canada, 1978. 1 videocassette (21 min. 3 sec.)

This film is a critical look at the 1976 Progressive Conservative leadership convention in which the first female candidate ran and questions whether she lost because she was a woman. Includes interviews with Flora MacDonald, Judy Lamarsh and others.

The Right Candidate for Rosedale. Montreal: National Film Board of Canada, 1979. 1 videocassette (32 min.)

This film records Anne Cools' nomination bid in 1978 in a large federal riding in Toronto and examines the nomination contest as a basic step in the electoral process.

Status Quo? The Unfinished Business of Feminism in Canada. By Karen Cho. National Film Board of Canada, 2012. (1 h.27 min.)

A feature documentary with archival material and contemporary interviews on the state of key women's rights issues.

Why Women Run. Montreal: National Film Board of Canada, 1986. 1 videocassette (46 min. 6 sec.)

A documentary following the campaign between Alexa McDonough and Mary Clancy in the 1997 federal election.


Living Memory, Politics and Government Section. Library and Archives Canada.

This website contains archival photographs and documents from an exhibition with more material to be added in the future. Women depicted include: Agnes MacPhail, Florence Bird, Jeanne Sauvé, and Thérèse Casgrain.

Library and Archives Canada has thousands of photographs and other images. Search by topic using the Collection Search and limit to "Images".

What Is Happening Now (in political parties and government, contacting people, getting involved):

Besides all the generic tools to keep up to date with political party and government information, to find contact information, and to get involved (covered in the main part of this guide), the following are selected sources and resources specific to women in politics and government, organized by whether they are created by a political party, a government body or other kinds of organizations like women's groups or others:

Political Parties:

National Women's Liberal Commission. Liberal Party of Canada. (Formerly Women's Liberal Federation, 1928-1973.)

The mandate of the NWLC is to represent and promote the interests of women within the Liberal Party and to encourage the active participation of women at all levels of the Party. The website includes details on how to form a club recognized by the Commission and how to send a delegate to a convention.


Federal Government News Relating to Women. Government of Canada.

The News section of the official Government of Canada website allows you to filter the news from federal departments to just those for Women as the "audience". News includes backgrounders, media advisories, news releases, readouts, speeches, and statements.

The federal Department of Women and Gender Equality Canada (formerly Status of Women Canada), the equivalent provincial and territorial government bodies responsible for the Status of Women, and Advisory Councils on the Status of Women created by governments all have websites with "News" sections with information on what they are doing, and ways to keep informed. Some, such as Women and Gender Equality Canada, allow you to subscribe to email updates from them. Some also publish information to help women get involved in elections, or other ways to get involved. Some examples:

Newfoundland & Labrador Office for the Status of Women has posted: A Woman's Manual on Organizing an Election Campaign by the Women's Mentoring Program Advisory Committee.

Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women hosts a 3-day campaign school for women. Details: One of their related publications:  Votes for Women: A Political Guidebook. 4th ed. Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women. 2014, 56p. 

Manitoba Advisory Council on the Status of Women and the Junior League of Winnipeg.Take That Seat!: A Guide for Women Who Want to be Appointed to Government Boards, Agencies and Commissions. 1992. 72 p.

See the link to government and advisory council websites in the Finding Government Information portion of this guide.

Women's Groups and other Organizations:

Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action (FAFIA).

FAFIA is an alliance of over 40 Canadian non-governmental women's groups seeking women's equality. It's aim is to achieve gender equality in Canada by getting Canadian governments at all levels to honour and implement international human rights agreements. The website includes tips on how to get involved at the local, regional, national and international level. The "Step Up" page has information on the campaign calling for a National Gender Equality Plan and implementation of the UN CEDAW recommendations.

Equal Voice.

Equal Voice is a national, multi-partisan, voluntary organization committed to electing more women to all levels of political office. The website includes background information, reports and news articles, and information on the "Daughters of the Vote" (DOV) program to encourage young women to get into politics. News updates can be received by email.

Federation of Canadian Municipalities, Women in Local Government Program.

FCM is a national association representing over 2,000 municipalities. It has had a committee or program working on increasing women's participation in municipal government for many years. The Resources list can be limited by topic to see the reports and guides available. Some examples that provide ideas and advice for getting involved:

A City Tailored to Women: The Role of Municipal Governments in Achieving Gender Equality. 2004, 59 p.
Diverse Voices: Tools and Practices to Support all Women. 2018, 46 p.
Increasing Women's Participation in Municipal Decision-making: Strategies for more Inclusive Canadian Communities. 2004, 68 p.
Municipal Elections in Canada: A Guide for Women Candidates. 2018?, 77 p.
Run, Win and Lead: Toward Parity in Municipal Politics. 2019?, 15 p.
Toward Parity Knowledge Hub: Resources for Equality in Representation in Municipal Politics. 2019?

Groupe femmes, politique et democratie (GFPD).

This is an independent, non-profit, non-partisan educational organization whose goal is to educate the public about democracy and to encourage women to become more involved in political and democratic action. It has several publications and videos online and a newsletter you can subscribe to. The site includes a 92-question self-evaluation test to see if you are well-prepared and suited to work in politics. For areas you need to work on, it points to training and resources provided by GFPD. There is also a women's political club you can join: "Les Elles du Pouvoir".

National Association of Women and the Law.

A non-profit feminist organization that has been working since 1974 to promote women's equality through legal research, advocacy and public education. They have been active in examining the effects on women of existing laws and proposed legislation. Their website features calls to action, news releases, briefs to government, research publications, and the Gender and the Law Manual: An Introductory Handbook for Law Students, and Feminist Law Reform 101, a bilingual online course with resources and tips on how to engage in law reform to advance women's equality rights.

PAR-L (Policy, Action, Research Email Discussion List).

This bilingual email discussion list, begun in 1995 by the Canadian Advisory Council on the Status of Women, is now based at the University of New Brunswick. It is intended to support the community of feminist researchers and activists by providing a tool for sharing information and responding to policy, legislation and other events concerning women. It has over 1,400 subscribers. Instructions for subscribing and searching the archives are on the website which also has lots of information including tips on feminist research and links to feminist resources.

Women's Environment and Development Organization (WEDO).

WEDO is an international non-governmental network whose mission is to ensure that women’s rights; social, economic and environmental justice; and sustainable development principles - as well as the linkages between them - are at the heart of global and national policies, programs and practices. Their 50/50 Campaign aims to get women equal representation in all governments. It was launched in 2000 during the UN Review of the Beijing Platform for Action and has been adopted by 154 organizations in 45 countries. Documents with a focus on Canada include: Feminist Climate Finance Brief: Recommendations for Canada's Climate Finance Pledge. 2020, 28 p. and Climate Change and Gender in Canada: A Review. 2018, 11 p. The extensive resource library on the website has news, reports,  fact sheets, and multimedia sources, including the 2020 webinar series: Communications for Gender Just Climate Action. The site's resources can be searched by "Focus Area", including "Women's Leadership". A major coalition campaign launched in 2019 is the Feminist Agenda for a Green New Deal. The site  provides many ways to learn more and get involved.

Related Books:

Women on the Ballot: Pathways to Political Power. By Betsy McGregor. Rubicon Publishing, 2019. 243 p.

Intended to inspire and encourage women to run for political office, this book profiles, and has stories, insight and advice from 95 women who campaigned and served at all levels of politics in Canada.