For anyone concerned about women’s numerical representation in the Canadian House of Commons the past decade has been discouraging at best. After a period of sustained increases in the representation of women between 1970 and 1993, the past decade has brought virtually no improvement in the number of women in Canada’s national legislature. In the Canadian provinces, the situation is almost as bleak. Women make up only 20 per cent of the membership of the country’s 13 provincial and territorial legislatures, ranging from a low of just over 10 per cent of the membership of the North West Territories (NWT) and Nunavut territorial legislatures to a high of 30 per cent in the Quebec National Assembly.1

Looking at the most recent election in each province, we find that women’s representation declined in seven provinces and territories, remained constant in one and increased in only five. One bright spot in this otherwise dismal landscape is the slow but perceptible increase in the election of women from minority ethnic groups over the period since 1993. Although minority and Aboriginal women remain underrepresented, they are becoming more numerous in the country’s national Parliament.2