Feminist Party of Canada (FPC) attracted membership and interest in numerous communities across Canada. It was intensely active with a high profile in Toronto for approximately three years before becoming dormant.
On June 10, 1979, after months of intensive organizing by an ad-hoc group of feminists, a public meeting attracting over 500 people was held at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education to launch the idea of establishing a Women’s Party. At this inspiring inaugural meeting, many hundreds of (mainly) women took out memberships and voted to begin the process of organizing the party. From the beginning, the aim was to welcome broad involvement of diverse women to undertake practical and effective action in pursuit of visionary change. Party members always saw themselves as one part of a broad feminist movement drawing strength from and supporting all the many other forms of movement activism in diverse communities on issues of concern to women.
We wanted to participate in electoral politics while transforming them along feminist lines. The FPC’s struggle for women`s liberation was a social, political, and environmental struggle against patriarchal, racial, and class oppression. Our aim was a better world for all. Today, women do most of the under-resourced and disrespected work of sustaining life. Society at large (not just women) pays a heavy price for the devaluation of this important work. We envisioned a world in which sustaining and enhancing individual, community, and ecological life would be a well-resourced society-wide responsibility and priority.
It was expected that all aspects of official party structure and policy would be democratically determined at the future founding convention. Meanwhile, the ongoing organizing process was conducted by consensus through a number of task-oriented committees. These included policy, membership, newsletter, electoral, community action, education and outreach, and media committees. Questions over whether the party should prioritize political education and transformation of the electoral system or electoral success or should seek to balance pursuit of both were grappled with by the whole membership. Decisions (for instance, about whether the party should be called a Feminist Party or Women’s Party) were made by consensus of all members.
The emergence of the Feminist Party of Canada received a great deal of attention. Memberships, invitations to speak, and requests for organizing help came in from across the country. The media often included the Feminist Party when seeking statements or public appearances from political parties, which gave the FPC a strong public presence. Along with policy development, public engagement and education, and membership recruitment, party members collected the signatures and fulfilled the other requirements for recognition at both Provincial and Federal levels. With high profile appearances and policy statements during the 1980 Toronto municipal elections, FPC engagement achieved a wide hearing for feminist positions and ideas without running candidates.
Angela Miles, Founding member of the FPC