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This article was published 2/10/2010 (2461 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
If Judy Wasylycia-Leis loses the civic election it will because of her gender.
That's the opinion of Shannon Sampert, an assistant professor in the University of Winnipeg's department of politics, who specializes in Canadian politics and gender. Sampert said it's the plain and simple fact that Wasylycia-Leis -- and any female candidate -- faces when they run for office.
"If she loses it will be because she's a woman," Sampert said before speaking about Gender, Media and Politics in Canada at the annual Prairie Political Science Association on Saturday.
"The problem is women are evaluated differently. Sam Katz's vulnerability is he dates younger women, but a lot of men think, 'Good for him.' But Judy will be seen as a tough feminist.
"Judy has had a phenomenal career. She isn't a political neophyte. And yet, nasty bloggers are saying she hasn't had a real job when I think being a politician is a job."
Linda Trimble, a University of Alberta political science professor who also specializes in gender and politics in Canada and media representation of women politicians, said she believes Wasylycia-Leis's years of political experience "give her an advantage."
"Women do have more political experience and education when they run for office. They need to be really over-qualified to counter out the gender factor.
"It's a delicate balance for women running for office: Do you perform as a man, and get accused of being too masculine or aggressive, or as a woman, and be accused of not having the right stuff?"
The comments on gender and the civic election came as an exclusive poll conducted by Probe Research was reported in Saturday's Free Press. It found Katz's large lead over Wasylycia-Leis has vanished in the first few weeks of the campaign.
The poll shows Wasylycia-Leis was the preferred choice of 50 per cent of Winnipeg voters who intend to vote, while Katz has the support of 47 per cent. The margin of error is 4.7 per cent.
Sampert said some of the criticism faced by Wasylycia-Leis during this election campaign is that she speaks in a higher voice and points her fingers a lot.
"But Sam Katz does not have a good speaking voice either and no one condemns him the way they do Judy."
Sampert does say the road to the mayor's office is easier for a woman because Susan Thompson was elected the city's first female mayor in 1992.
"Every time we have a woman in power it makes it easier for the next candidate."
Meanwhile, former Manitoba premier Howard Pawley -- who was speaking at the same conference on the 20th anniversary of the defeat of the Meech Lake Accord, said the biggest lesson politicians received at the time was to involve the public.
"Meech was a closed-door session and the decisions resulted in lack of acceptance by the public and aboriginal people," Pawley said.
"Meech was 11 men dressed in suits making decisions. The process was quite wrong."
7 Things that differentiate Judy Wasylycia-Leis from incumbent Mayor Sam Katz
(according to Shannon Sampert, assistant professor in the University of Winnipeg's department of politics)
1 Wasylycia-Leis has said something about raising property taxes.
2 Wasylycia-Leis would come in with a clean slate at the political level of the city.
3 Wasylycia-Leis is an "extremely established politician" at both the provincial and federal levels of politics.
4 Wasylycia-Leis doesn't have a baseball team that has done badly this year.
5 Wasylycia-Leis attracts diverse supporters, including young people, aboriginals and community groups.
6 Wasylycia-Leis would bring a sensitivity as a woman so there might be more gender-friendly discussions at City Hall.
7 Wasylycia-Leis's experience as an opposition member in Ottawa means she understands how collaboration and consultation can get things done.