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Agnes Campbell Macphail (March 24, 1890 – February 13, 1954) was the first woman to be elected to Ontario’s legislature and Canadian House of Commons.

Yousuf Karsh

Good morning,

It's been 97 years since Canada elected its first female MP, Agnes Macphail, who was among just four women running in the 1921 election — the first in which women were permitted to run as candidates. In nearly a century since, the representation of women in Canadian politics has improved, but that progress has been slow. A woman didn't serve as premier until 1991 (Rita Johnston's brief tenure in B.C.) and Canada didn't get its first — and so far only — female prime minister until Kim Campbell in 1993. And across Canada, women continue to be underrepresented in the halls of power.

On International Women's Day, here's a look at some key measures of women's participation in Canadian politics:

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26: The percentage of women among Canada's 338 MPs, which puts Canada 24th in a ranking of OECD countries. That's just under Israel and Estonia and far below Iceland, which at 48 per cent has the highest rate of participation.

535: Number of women who ran in the 2015 federal election, about a third of all candidates. Of those, 88 were elected.

52: The percentage of women in federal cabinet (third among OECD countries), a result of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's promise to ensure gender parity among his ministers. Before the 2015 election, that figure was 30 per cent, which itself was considerably higher than in previous years.

1: Number of women who have held the position of Speaker in the House of Commons: Jeanne Sauvé, who was picked in 1980. There have been two female Speakers in the Senate: Muriel McQueen Fergusson from 1972 to 1974, and Renaude Lapointe from 1974 to 1979.

23.4: Global percentage of female national parliamentarians as of January of this year, according to the Inter-Parliamentary Union. That was an increase from 13.1 per cent in 2000.

11: Number of Canadian premiers who have been women, beginning with Rita Johnston, who served as interim leader of B.C.'s ruling Social Credit Party for several months in 1991.

2: Women currently serving as premier: Ontario's Kathleen Wynne and Alberta's Rachel Notley.

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This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Chris Hannay in Ottawa, Mayaz Alam in Toronto and James Keller in Vancouver. If you're reading this on the web or someone forwarded this email newsletter to you, you can sign up for Politics Briefing and all Globe newsletters here. Have any feedback? Let us know what you think.


Jaspal Atwal, the man convicted of attempted murder in the 1980s who caused some controversy by appearing at the Prime Minister's India tour last month, wants to "set the record straight" at a news conference today, his lawyer says.

The Liberal government will introduce new legislation to further restrict gun ownership in Canada, including deeper background checks and possible mental-health assessments.

In their final budget before a provincial election later this year, the Ontario Liberals are taking a page out of their federal counterparts' playbook, saying they will run a deficit. Ontario's economy grew at its fastest rate in seven years last year, the first time in a decade that the Liberals tabled a balanced budget.

The Ontario Progressive Conservatives are still on track to win this year's provincial election, a new Angus Reid Institute poll suggests, especially if Christine Elliott or Caroline Mulroney are at the helm.

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The Bank of Canada is taking a cautious step, deciding to put its interest rate hikes on hold yesterday as it grapples with uncertainty on trade and a slowdown in borrowing.

The federal government is preparing to sign agreements with territorial and provincial governments to roll out billions of dollars for major infrastructure projects. Those agreements — including the first announced with the Northwest Territories this week —  will determine where $33-billion will be spent over the next decade. It's billed as the second phase of the government's infrastructure program.

Vancouver's new tax on empty homes — one of a series of aggressive measures designed to cool the region's housing market — could apply to more than 8,000 homes. But that number, which includes owners who declared their homes are empty or failed to make such a disclosure, is significantly lower than previous estimates of empty homes, which observers have blamed in part for skyrocketing housing prices.

And as he leaves the Manitoba legislature, former premier Greg Selinger is calling for a more inclusive political system.

Denise Balkissoon (The Globe and Mail) on International Women's Day: "'Woman' is a social category and a personal, political identification – it's not shared by everyone with female genitalia, and not off-limits to those whose bodies mark them as male, or otherwise. And if enduring violence and discrimination is a mandatory trait for a real woman, well, trans women know plenty about that."

Linda Nazareth (The Globe and Mail) on female labour participation: "Figuring out the reasons for why women are not looking for work – which could stem from a lack of good child care to a lack of information of what jobs are available – and addressing them could benefit the entire economy. It's worth a shot: As we worry about income stagnation and a declining level of family incomes, ignoring the potential contributions of 38.5 per cent of potential workers seems counterproductive at best and foolish at worst."

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Globe and Mail Editorial Board on Ontario's new concussion law: "As it stands, Canada doesn't have a unified approach to concussions in amateur and youth sport. Ontario has now provided the basis for one; the other provinces and territories should use it to adopt their own, and quickly."

Adam Radwanski (The Globe and Mail) on Ontario PC leadership candidate Christine Elliott: "Spend time with her – witness how differently she presents herself this time, listen to her explain lessons learned from past political disappointments and a whole lot of personal trauma – and you get a sense of why this time, she's surprising those in her party who had written her off."

Jason Markusoff (Maclean's) on Alberta UCP leader Jason Kenney: "Kenney has sold himself convincingly to Alberta conservatives, but now must close the deal with Alberta as a whole, with no shortage of unknowns between him and the brass ring. The provincial economy might recover before he can rush to its rescue; Notley is showing talent as a defender of her province against pipeline opponents; the leader and his grassroots backers have yet to decide just how far from the political centre they dare to plant their party flag. He's thundered into provincial politics with a dizzying array of goals and accomplishments, and is now aiming for the biggest one yet. Only Kenney would consider this the less exhausting path."

Drew Brown (Vice) on Justin Trudeau's democratic values: "For a long time, Trudeau's power was located precisely in the emptiness of his brand. You can make all kinds of things appear in an empty space."

Help The Globe monitor political ads on Facebook: During an election campaign, you can expect to see a lot of political ads. But Facebook ads, unlike traditional media, can be targeted to specific users and only be seen by certain subsets of users, making the ads almost impossible to track. The Globe and Mail wants to report on how these ads are used, but we need to see the same ads Facebook users are seeing. Here is how you can help.


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U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to unveil the details of his proposed tariffs on steel (25 per cent) and aluminum (10 per cent) today, but Canada and Mexico will be temporarily exempt from duties while the three countries continue to renegotiate NAFTA. If the revamped trilateral trade deal satisfies Mr. Trump, the two countries will receive a permanent exemption, the White House said. Canada is still preparing a backup plan to issue retaliatory trade actions in case things fall apart and the government is also targeting swing states to help pressure Mr. Trump into less protectionist stances. Earlier this week Mr. Trump's chief economic adviser, Gary Cohn, resigned over the decision to move forward with the tariffs. With the exit, a proponent for free trade walked out the door and significantly shifted the balance in favour of protectionists among the president's advisers. One thing to note about the ongoing developments is that, although Mr. Trump is known to shift his stance on many issues, he has maintained a solid position on trade over the past four decades.

British Prime Minister Theresa May is defending her country's ties with Saudi Arabia as Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman arrived in London and received a royal welcome from Queen Elizabeth II. "The link that we have with Saudi Arabia is historic, it is an important one, and it has saved the lives of potentially hundreds of people in this country," Ms. May said in the House, followed by opposition lawmakers crying "Shame!"
South Korean President Moon Jae-in says that sanctions on North Korea won't be eased ahead of the proposed summit between the two countries.

The European Union is snubbing the United Kingdom's post-Brexit trade demands. Reuters, which obtained a draft of the free trade deal offered by the EU to Britain, reports that member states want a close relationship but there was a limit to what was possible because of Brexit.

Lawmakers in Florida passed a bill to impose restrictions on rifle sales and create a new program to arm some teachers, nearly a month after a school shooting in Parkland left 17 dead.

Sri Lanka is blocking social media platforms as Buddhist mobs have been sweeping through towns in the country's central region and burning Muslim homes and businesses. Buddhists make up more than two-thirds of the population while Muslims comprise around 10 per cent of all Sri Lankans. The country's president declared a state of emergency earlier this week. which has a history of sectarian violence.

And Sergei Skripal, a former Russian spy, was attacked with a nerve agent, according to British police. Authorities also say that Mr. Skripal and his daughter, who was also targeted, were specifically sought out in the attack.

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Elizabeth Renzetti (The Globe and Mail) on remembering the "international" in International Women's Day:  "Women in North America and Western Europe have rightly been celebrating the victories of the past several months, with the dam burst of revelations in the #MeToo movement. In many parts of the world, though, there haven't been conferences and red carpets and huzzahs. There's only been brutality, greeted with silence. On occasion, news breaks through that women are being targeted and terrorized by sexual violence – the Rohingya, the Yazidis, the women of South Sudan – but it quickly dies away." (for subscribers)

Wesley Wark (The Globe and Mail) on the new Cold War: "The West sees in Mr. Putin's Russia a dangerously expansive and aggressive power, operating without limits: Invading other countries on their borders, meddling in the Middle East, breaking arms-control treaties, bragging about invincible nuclear weapons, interfering brazenly in democratic elections and conducting assassination plots in broad daylight in Western cities. If the Skripal case proves to have been another example of a murderous Russian intelligence operation on British soil, it will only reinforce current convictions. If the evidence ultimately points away from a Russia connection, it won't shake those convictions."

Konrad Yakabuski (The Globe and Mail) on peace in the Middle East: "Mr. Obama's approach did not exactly put the Middle East in a better place. So, in the same counter-intuitive way that Mr. Trump appears to be getting his way on trade and taxes, he may do more to concentrate minds in the Middle East than any of his recent predecessors. Sunni Arab countries lined up against Iran have increasingly become covert allies of Israel. The Trump administration is counting on them to force the Palestinians to compromise." (for subscribers)

Got a news tip that you'd like us to look into? E-mail us at  Need to share documents securely? Reach out via SecureDrop

Justin Trudeau says he affirmed his opposition to planned U.S. tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum in a phone call with Donald Trump. The Prime Minister says he’ll wait to see what the president does before responding. The Canadian Press
Editor’s note: Editor’s note: the Politics Briefing newsletter on Thursday, March 8, said there has been just one female Speaker of the Senate, Muriel McQueen Fergusson. In fact, there have been two: Ms. Fergusson was followed by Renaude Lapointe in 1974.

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