Women’s Issues and the Ward 12 By-election: The Candidates Have Their Say

Women’s Issues and the Ward 12 By-election: The Candidates Have Their Say
Edmonton City Hall will have a new councilor join its ranks very soon. Who will it be?


There are an unprecedented number of candidates running in the Ward 12 by-election. We're particularly interested in their perspectives on issues that impact women in our city.

So we asked all of the candidates this question: "What are the key issues facing women in Edmonton and how do you plan to address them if you are elected to City Council?"


Jason Bale (1)

Jason Bale

I believe there are two key issues facing women. The first is safety. If elected, I would address this in two ways. First is working to find ways to give the EPS the money they requested. Second, I would be looking at implementing city wide surveillance. It is hard to get an accurate estimate on this cost, however from what I can gather we would be looking at about $25M to install, with $1m/year maintenance and upkeep costs. The second issue is being heard. With the under-representation on council for women, it’s difficult for women to be properly represented, no matter how strong the efforts and intentions of the male representative. I want to be elected, though I understand the need for the right women as leaders. As an alternative to voting for me, I would recommend Nicole Szymanowka as the right leader for women.


Moe Banga (1)Moe Banga

Women’s equality in Edmonton is extremely important to me as my household is comprised of seven females. We must encourage and support those mothers that want to enter or re-enter the workforce by making quality child care affordable and flexible. I will continue to support any initiatives that can provide some subsidies to ensure families have this entitlement as well as promote the development of additional facilities that can offer these services.

As a Police Officer, I have utilized and observed the tremendous assistance both the Alta. Council of Women’s Shelters does in Edmonton as well as the City’s Gender Based Violence Initiative.  Both provide an opportunity for offering a safe environment and education for victims of such horrendous abuse.


Danisha Bhaloo (2)Danisha Bhaloo

This is a very broad question; however, fundamentally women are under-represented in leadership roles across the city in many sectors. Before we do anything else, we need to ask women what they want. Using initiatives like WAVE to help ask those questions is paramount. We need to increase the number of women in key roles. When we have transformative role models in decision-making positions we can affect change across many areas where women are experiencing issues in their daily lives. I will look for ways to ensure we are asking the tough questions of ourselves for the agencies and boards to which we appoint Edmontonians, where we have opportunities in the City to mentor strong female leaders, and set a good example of leadership on this issue for members and organizations in our community.


Nick Chamchuk

This election will be watched seriously, pertaining to women in politics. I support Women's Rights, gender equality, pay equity, and motherhood issues like return-to-work, and maternity benefits. I am also concerned about abusive relationships, fully support women's shelters, and would continue to. I would push Provincial and Federal governments to do everything in their power to reduce discrimination against women, including seizure of johns' property to reduce solicitation for the purpose of prostitution in troubled areas of Edmonton. Karen, my long-time partner and lover, and our 6 month-old daughter, Angela Marie keep me grounded and attentive to women's issues, especially in this historic By-Election, and would continue to, as Ward 12 Councillor! I urge voters to pick the best qualified and experienced person for this position.


Irfan Chaudhry (1)Irfan Chaudhry

I am committed to being an ally and champion all issues facing women in Edmonton.  Working closely with WAVE on specific initiatives is one way I will do this.  We must build on the recent ETS awareness campaign which brought attention to harassment women experience on the ETS.  Awareness is an important first step, but plans must be put into action to stop this behavior.

I would like to see further mentorship opportunities with the City of Edmonton to provide women with leadership experience.  Women in leadership positions are still fairly low, and I would like to identify barriers to accessing leadership opportunities.  This must be looked at from an intersectional lens, as barriers women face are different depending on their unique social experience.

I would also like the City (as an employer) to become more active in child care options.  Having a young son myself, I know the importance of wanting your child in a safe space that is affordable, but also provides a level of convenience for you as a parent.


Jag Gill (1)Jag Gill

As a father of two daughters, women issues are very important to me.  I want my daughters to have complete equality in the workforce.  What I mean by “complete” equality, is that there needs to be zero tolerance for sexual harassment, gender inequality, and wage disparity in the work force. I will support any women that feels she is being discriminated in the workplace by encouraging her to contact her H.R. department and the Alberta Human Rights Commission.

Another key issue facing women in Edmonton is domestic violence.  Domestic violence will most likely increase with the continued downward trend of our economy.  Thus it is imperative that weprovide shelters that provides a safe non-violent environment for women and their children.  As a councillor, I would first bring awareness.  Women need to be aware that shelters are available in Edmonton, and that shelters should not be used as a last resort, but at the beginning of domestic violence.  I would also help fundraise for the shelters.  I will work with all levels of government to help provide more stable funding for the shelters.

As councillor I would support the Women’s Initiative Edmonton.  “The Women's Initiative fosters and promotes equality, opportunity, access to services, justice and inclusion for women inEdmonton,” and is endorsed by city council.  I will encourage and attend any meetings pertaining to the women’s advisory committee (The Women's Advocacy Voice of Edmonton (WAVE) Committee) to gain further knowledge of issues that affect women.


Lincoln Ho (1)Lincoln Ho

Women make up half the population and as such, issues pertaining to women are diverse. The biggest issue to women today outside of domestic violence has to do with gender-parity in wages. Although most workplaces have gender-parity in wages on paper, it doesn't work out in practice as wage increases are often considered by hours worked. So if women take months off during maternity leave, that would mean they're 9 months behind in wage increase compared to their male counterparts.

Women also often have to work 'double shift' with their employer and their domestic duties such as child-minding and housework. That work is unpaid. Employers need to see that value.

Women should therefore have full compensations awarded when they take maternity leave, not only a portion. Whether that is done by the employer's good will or through tax credits, gender-parity in wages is important and needs to be worked out.


Kelly Kadla (1)Kelly A. Kadla

The question is open ended...there is a diverse demographic of women in Edmonton who face key issues, an example being working mothers. Is there enough affordable day/home care available? And should child care costs be adjusted, and lowered, during our severe economic downturn? Or how about safety issues? Our council decided not to give EPS what was requested in their budget, and response times have become longer. In domestic violence situations, delays could end up with tragic consequences. Therefore, the EPS security blanket is reduced to the size of a tea towel. Reducing the EPS budget sends the message that public safety is not a priority. I will advocate that council rethinks their position on the EPS budget. How about the 'sandwich' women, those looking after ageing parents and growing children. They give endlessly, but who looks after them at the end of the day? Let's provide them with programs designed to go exercise, the spa, etc.


Nav Kaur (1)Nav Kaur

Women in Edmonton face many issues, including patriarchal societal structures and pressures, and are disproportionately victimized by domestic violence and poverty. As Councillor for Ward 12, I would champion Council strategies addressing domestic violence and poverty, while encouraging my Council colleagues to address the roots of these problems. I would push for an achievable implementation plan for the End Poverty Strategy to ensure our City ends poverty in a generation. Additionally, we should be investing in infrastructure and services for Ward 12 families.

Currently only one of twelve Councillors is a woman, and no Councillors are people of colour. I believe that our concerns as women aren’t effectively being raised and that lack of representation will discourage young girls from getting involved. As a woman of colour, I would do my best to represent this diversity of viewpoints at City Council.


Rory Koopmans (1)R. Joey Koopmans

I am so glad that I don’t live in Saudi Arabia where women can now run for office but cannot drive.

I have as a security guard always worked strongly for womens & mens safety in situations such as bars where alcohol is served!

The Edmonton Institution For Women provides great care to help female inmates get rehabilitated & trained so they can take up their family lives & we are lucky to house it in Edmonton!

The Sexual Assault Crisis Centre Of Edmonton & assorted shelters for victims of domestic violence are superb in keeping, women, children, & yes even men who are victims of it safe. It is sad that we need such facilities, but I thank goodness for them each & every day!

I humbly ask for your support as a male candidate who strongly believes in the Women's Equality Initiative on February XXIInd!

If you feel that I am your candidate of choice then great & I truly appreciate that! I would remark however that Ward XII residents would be very lucky to have any of my distinguished, honourable, talented, & lovely female opponents as their next City Councilor!


Arundeep Singh Sandhu (2)Arundeep Singh Sandhu

My faith, family, and community have raised me to be a proud feminist. While our city has come far in its journey towards gender equality, we still have a long way to go and our politicians play an important role in that journey. I want to ensure that women and girls in Southeast Edmonton, and the entire city, are empowered in their pursuit of opportunity and have their perspectives represented on council. Our politicians must be inclusive and represent all citizens, and while I can not draw on my own experience to speak to women’s issues, I will do everything in my power to consult with women in my community - committees like WAVE, organizations such as the YWCA and the City of Edmonton Gender-Based Violence Initiative - so that political, economic, and social equality can be achieved in our city.


Yash Sharma

The issues of Edmonton Woman are the issues faced around the world. The words "equality" and "representation" have become buzz words; elected officials (male and female) use the words to garner votes, but in the end the issues are just talked about and rarely acted upon. I am a firm believer that all people are created equal and all people are capable of whatever they put their mind to. If elected I would advocate for fair and equal representation within city departments always ensuring that wages are compensated to talent and not gender.

There is no one I am more proud of than my wife who came from a country where woman are not always treated equally and here she has blossomed and is a successful role model of women's strength and character not only for our daughters but for our son. She is a classic example of success in Edmonton.


Nicole Szymanowka (1)Nicole Szymanowka

There are many key issues facing women in Edmonton. These include violence against women, mental health and self-esteem, having a work-life balance, and being able to pursue a career while raising a family. No single issue is more important than the next and we need to address all of them. Ending violence against women is an issue I plan to address. This must first begin by encouraging open and honest dialogue and bringing the issue to mainstream conversation. Women must feel that they are in control of their lives and know that there are avenues for them to seek help and people that care. I will work to ensure there is access to resources needed to end the violence. Enough housing and assistance must be available to women and their children so they are not forced to return to a situation they are desperately trying to escape from.


Laura Thibert (1)Laura Thibert

There are many issues facing women in Edmonton today, in particular safety. I support improvements to transit safety through working with ETS and community organizations. Ward 12 is the fastest growing section of the city which results in long transit commutes. We need to ensure a safe commute on our transit system.

I believe partnering with organizations that work with homeless woman shelters. As a city we need to work with community partners to reduce violence against women. Ending poverty is a collective responsibility. I will advocate and support partnerships with business, and the government to provide access to social programs that will lead Ward 12 and Edmonton into a future where we live free from poverty.

My goal is to be an inspiration to women and demonstrate a mom can have a successful career in public service. I believe Edmonton needs to continue encouraging women to pursue an occupation in politics, business and non-profit organizations.


Stephen Wutzke (1)Stephen Wutzke

Moms are under attack.

Grandparent’s rights legislation has robbed women of their natural right to parent. Under the law in Alberta it is possible today for a grandparent to gain the legal authority to unsupervised contact with their grandchildren without the permission of the mother. This law is most often uses against single mothers by vindictive in laws and to facilitate multi-generational rape. Rape victims can be forced to sacrifice their children to the parent that attacked them.

Serious lack of funding for stay at home moms. Women who are at home with their children should receive the same amount in funding as women who put their children in daycare. Childcare should be something women seek by choice not something forced on them.

In my position I will be voice for moms and try to encourage the provincial government to equalize funding and restore rights to mothers.



Women's Initiative note: We do not endorse any particular candidate and hope these unedited messages inform your vote. We did not receive responses from the following candidates in time for our deadline: Shani Ahmad, Victor Bujor, Mike Butler, Andrew Gorman, Brian Henderson, Sam Jhajj, Dan Johnstone, Don Koziak, Balraj Singh Manhas, Terry J. McKinnon, Rakesh Patel, Field Pieterse, Nirpal Sekhon, Jagat Singh Sheoran, Jeri Stevens, Preet Toor, Steve Toor.

We want to encourage all eligible Ward 12 residents to vote on Feb. 22!


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