Friday, May 22, 2009

Neo-Liberal plan: Where's the commitment to women and girls?

Yesterday the Nova Scotia Liberal Party released its electoral platform, called A Real Plan. The document, available at, focuses mainly on tax cuts with no solid commitments toward affordable housing, minimum wage, social assistance or women's services.

The plan seems to be based on a belief that the free market will solve all our problems. The section on economic growth is presented in explicitly neoliberal terms:

A government’s approach to supporting economic growth and helping families should be “less is more.” There should be less government interference in the economy and peoples’ lives. (p. 8)

I skimmed over the plan this morning and discovered that, while the Liberals pay lip service to social justice, the party has no real plan for addressing socio-economic inequality. There is a section on reducing poverty, but it does not mention affordable housing, employment support and income assistance (ESIA) or minimum wage. Is it really possible to address poverty while ignoring these important issues?

The same section introduces a plan to develop "multi-year service agreements with community service partners" (p. 27). Which partners? Further down in the section on the volunteer sector, the plan states that:

A Liberal government will work with the Nova Scotia Volunteer Advisory Council and community service providers to develop an action plan on the implementation of multi-year service agreements. We recognize that multi-year funding enables organizations to plan, grow and innovate. (p. 30)

This is all well and good, but which services providers are they talking about - and how much money is the Liberal party willing to invest in community organizations? Does this include women's centres and transition houses? It is hard to tell based on this vague statement.

The Liberals may not form the next government in Nova Scotia, but their elected members will still influence the provincial policies that affect our lives. We need to continue to pressure the Liberals, NDP, Progressive Conservatives and Greens to commit to supporting women's services and addressing poverty - not just through lip service, but through real action.


  1. I would like to know why Betsy MacDonald's blog entry failed to mention what the Progressive Conservative and New Democratic Party platforms are committing to improve the lives of women in Nova Scotia?
    One of the indicators that I consider when looking at a political party is their commitment to diversity among their political candidates. We all know how dismal the numbers of female candidates have been in the past, and a political party that wants to pay more than just "lip service" to social justice would make it a priority to ensure that 50% of the candidates it runs are female. Female candidates understand women's issues because many have lived these issues. We need to pressure all political parties to ensure that more women and more minorities are represented on the ballot.

  2. It is certainly important to have women equally represented in political parties. However, the presence of female candidates does not necessarily mean that a party's platform will be woman-positive. Not all women approach social issues with a gender analysis. Many men do not, but some of them do. All the parties need to work on improving the gender analysis in their platforms so that, if their members are elected, they can better address the needs of women and girls.