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Women make inroads, still have a ways to go

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They may make up only 18 of the 55 members (there are two vacancies) in the Manitoba legislature, but it can be argued that never have women played so prominent a role in the provincial government.

Women hold three of the most important positions in cabinet – finance (Rosann Wowchuk), health (Theresa Oswald) and education (Nancy Allan) – and eight seats in Greg Selinger’s inner circle overall.

The departments the eight women run now represent more than 70 per cent of core government spending.

As well, for the first time in history, both the government and Opposition House leaders – who steer the business of the legislature -- are women (Jennifer Howard from the NDP and Mavis Taillieu of the PCs).

In addition to having their first female House leader in Taillieu, the Tories have women assigned to such key critic positions as health (Myrna Driedger) and finance (Heather Stefanson).

Of the 18 women in the legislature, 13 are NDPers, while five are Conservatives.

But are women close to achieving parity in the legislature? It doesn’t appear so. A quick scan of nominated candidates for the two main parties for the coming provincial election suggests the situation won’t change a great deal after Oct 4.

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About Larry Kusch and Bruce Owen

Larry Kusch has been a journalist for 30 years, the last 20 with the Winnipeg Free Press. His is one of the newspaper's two legislative bureau reporters.

Raised on a Saskatchewan farm, he received an honours journalism degree from Carleton University in 1975.

At the Free Press, Larry has also worked as a general assignment reporter, business reporter, copy editor and assistant city editor.

Bruce Owen joined the Winnipeg Free Press in 1990 after four years working in other media.

He's worked in a number of positions at the Freep, including pet columnist, assistant city editor and police reporter. Right now he takes up space at the Manitoba legislature.

Bruce is one of five reporters who won a National Newspaper Award for the paper’s coverage of the 1997 Flood of the Century. He's also the recipient of the 1996 Volunteer Centre of Winnipeg Media Golden Hand Award and the 1995 Canadian Federation of Humane Societies Media Commendation Award.

In a past life Bruce worked at YMCA-YWCA Camp Stephens. He has a blog where he and others write about camp and the people who worked and played there.

You can also find Bruce on Twitter where he posts and retweets all sorts of stuff.

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