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Inspiring change

Stella Ambler fully understands the challenges women face when they contemplate entering the political ring.
MP Stella Ambler (Conservative, Mississauga South) (Matt Vis,

Stella Ambler fully understands the challenges women face when they contemplate entering the political ring.

The Conservative MP from Mississauga South is making it her goal to help engage more women to make the jump to putting their names on the ballot.

She was in Thunder Bay participating in the Women in Politics Inspiring Change workshop, which was organized along with the local Women in Politics group as well as the Federation of Canadian Municipalities at the Valhalla Inn on Saturday, which happens to be International Women's Day.

“Studies have shown that women often think they’re not qualified and it’s such a subjective thing to be qualified to be a politician or elected official,” Ambler said.

“If you want to serve your community and public service is for you then you’re qualified and you’re qualified when the voters say you’re qualified. If they vote for you and put your trust in you then you can serve them by doing the best job possible once you get elected.”

Ambler, who was first elected to the House of Commons in 2011, had previously spent nine years as a stay-at-home mom after completing a psychology degree at the University of Toronto.

She sees the different path taken by herself compared to current Minister for Status of Women Kellie Leitch, an orthopedic surgeon, as being evidence that there is no singular roadmap to building a political career.

“We all come at it from different angles and that’s the beauty of it. All parties want more Members of Parliament who are women,” Ambler said.

“Many women can contribute and are already contributing in the community and this just gives them in many ways a more effective platform to do their work.”

The workshop featured a panel discussion, question and answer period and educational lectures for prospective candidates on different elements of building a campaign.

The session was just another event that has been held locally to create a push for more women candidates, a cause championed by Coun. Rebecca Johnson.

They also held an event in January that featured an address by Lyn McLeod, who was the first woman to lead a major provincial party in Ontario.

She is hopeful more women will join this year’s municipal election race, where only two of the 13 seats on the Thunder Bay city council are currently occupied by women.

“It’s important for people to understand that women are not well represented in any layer of politics or any layer of government,” Johnson said.

Johnson said she has already been contacted by six prospective candidates in the upcoming municipal election and enjoys the opportunity to serve as a mentor.

“It’s very encouraging that they’re reaching out and saying I want to do this, can you help and I need some advice,” she said. “I have devised a list over the years of what I think you need to know running for politics and I go over that list with them.”

Johnson said she is still undecided on her own plans for the upcoming election.