The Canadian government is being accused of standing in the way of a popular female Conservative senator and champion of gender equality who is seeking the presidency of the prestigious Inter-Parliamentary Union, a global organization of 179 parliaments.
Senator Salma Ataullahjan says she has been met with silence after seeking the support of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Foreign Affairs Minister François-Phillippe Champagne for the top post of the international organization, established in 1874, that seeks to promote peace, democracy and human rights around the world.
“It is as if I don’t exist,” she said of the government’s silence, even though she was encouraged to put her name forward by Britain and New Zealand.
Mr. McGuinty, who is the president of the Canadian chapter of the IPU, confirmed in an interview that he has not ruled out running.
“I have been asked repeatedly by different member chapters on whether I would consider doing so. I haven’t come to a final decision,” he said, noting that he is also one of the senior members of the Twelve Plus Group of 47 countries, including France, Britain and Germany, that hold enormous sway over the IPU.
Ms. Ataullahjan said Mr. McGuinty’s potential candidacy is the “old boys’ club” in play and said this may explain why he refused her requests to call a meeting of the executive committee of the Canadian IPU.
“I am a racialized woman. Maybe that is not good enough to represent Canada, the first ever Canadian to run for the IPU,” she said in an interview Wednesday. “It is very hurtful to me. I am not one of those partisan people. Look at my record. I am into human rights. I don’t deserve to be treated like this from the Prime Minister’s Office, the Foreign Minister’s office.”
Her opponents are three men from Portugal, Pakistan and Uzbekistan.