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MPPs accuse Doug Ford government of ‘silencing’ women ahead of International Women’s Day

Ontario Liberal MPPs say the Doug Ford government has made a “deliberate decision to silence women” ahead of International Women’s Day.

On Wednesday, Liberal MPP for Ottawa Vanier Lucille Collard asked members of the legislature to allow independent members five minutes to respond to ministerial statements on International Women’s Day.

Their request was denied.

The Ontario Liberals have nine seats in the legislature and do not meet the threshold for official party status. This means they are considered independent members and are not typically allotted significant speaking time, which must be shared among all independents.

Of the nine members, five are women. This tally does not include Ontario Liberal Party Leader Bonnie Crombie.

“By denying our request to speak in the Legislature, Doug Ford and his Conservatives have made the deliberate decision to silence women on a day meant to celebrate our social, economic, cultural, and political achievements,” the female Liberal MPPs and leader said in a joint statement issued Thursday morning.

“Strong, independent women will not be told to sit down and shut up. We urge the Conservative government to do the right thing, reverse this disgraceful treatment, and allow our participation.”

The decision also impacts other female independents, such as newly elected Green MPP Aislinn Clancy and independent MPP Bobbi Ann Brady.

A spokesperson for the Government House Leader told CTV News Toronto in a statement that independent members have “far greater participation abilities than others in Canada.”

Independent members here, as in other Parliaments, do not automatically have the same speaking time as recognized parties,” they said.

“If the House allows unanimous consent, independents can be granted special speaking time and in this case, the House did not agree.”

The NDP have confirmed they support the request by independent members to be able to make International Women’s Day statements. They will be putting forward another request Thursday morning in hopes the Progressive Conservatives change their mind.

International Women’s Day is held on March 8; however, Thursday is the last sitting day of the legislature before MPPs step away for March Break.

The denied Liberal request was followed by a reminder by Progressive Conservative Association Minister of Women’s Social and Economic Opportunity that women in the legislature are invited to take a photo on Thursday for International Women’s Day.

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