Race to lead Sask. NDP will not include any female MLAs – Saskatchewan

The race to lead Saskatchewan’s New Democratic Party will not include any of the party’s elected women.

On Thursday, Regina Lakeview MLA Carla Beck confirmed she would not be seeking the party’s leadership despite efforts by some to recruit her.

“To even be considered has really been something that was a bit unexpected,” she said. “I certainly appreciate the support and confidence that people have expressed.”

Beck said it simply was not the right time for her to run. 

The day before, the newly-elected interim leader of the NDP, Nicole Sarauer, ruled out joining the race for similar reasons.

Despite five women making up nearly half of the Opposition’s 11-member caucus, none of them will run to lead it.

Former MLA not surprised

That is disappointing, but not surprising for the longest-serving female MLA in the province’s history.

Pat Atkinson represented Saskatoon Nutana for 25 years, from 1986 to 2011.

She had hoped one of the newly-elected women in her party would seek the permanent leadership, in particular Beck, who Atkinson thought had developed a tremendous profile in the past year for her work on education and libraries.

Pat Atkinson is longest-serving female MLA in the province’s history. (CBC)

Atkinson said she, too, was encouraged to run for the party’s leadership just a year after she was first elected.

“At the end, I concluded with only a year of experience under my belt in the Legislature, I simply didn’t know enough to be leader,” she said. 

“Women tend to want to know more before they put their oar in the water.”

Atkinson believes some of the reasons there are still fewer women than men in politics, as well as in positions of leadership, has less to do with raising children and more to do with the nastiness directed at high-profile women in a digital age.

“I think we’ve figured out how we can balance work and family,” Atkinson said. “I think it’s just the work and all that you have to put up with.”

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