Penny Priddy.

Penny Priddy honoured for public work

Former politician recognized for helping women get elected.

Longtime Surrey politician Penny Priddy has been honoured by Equal Voice, a national multi-partisan organization promoting the election of women to public office.

Priddy is the only woman in Canada to hold elected positions federally, provincially, and municipally – both in city hall and school board.

Equal Voice celebrated its tenth anniversary last week by honouring Priddy and nine others “who have been pivotal to paving the way for women in politics.”

Priddy, who was in Ottawa last week to receive the award, said she was humbled.

“Promoting the election of women is something that has been a priority for me throughout my political life,” she said.

Priddy moved to Surrey from Eastern Canada in 1981, and was elected to the Surrey school board in 1985.

In 1991, she trounced then-Premier Rita Johnson for the riding of Surrey-Newton.

During her decade in the B.C. legislature, she was a cabinet minister the entire time and had an uncanny ability to bring enormous funding with her to each of her ministries.

Priddy took a bow from provincial politics in October, 2001, then went on for a term as a Surrey councillor the following year. It was quickly apparent she required a bigger challenge and began focusing on national issues.

She won the seat in North Surrey in 2006 and was expecting to run last year when it was believed the minority government would be toppled.

Over the last dozen years, Priddy promoted women candidates by co-chairing the non-partisan National Women’s Campaign School, which has seen hundreds of potential candidates from around the world graduate from the program.

“It’s an important way to build for the future.” Priddy said. “Supporting, encouraging and mentoring women who seek public office is crucial to addressing the disproportionate gender balance at every level of government.”

In addition to Priddy, the list of Equal Voice Trailblazers included: Pat Carney, former federal minister; Jean Augustine, former federal minister; Catherine Callbeck, former premier, PEI;  Nelly Cournoyea, former premier, NWT; Roberta Jamieson, former Six Nations chief, commissioner, cmbudsman;  Marjory LeBreton, leader of the government in the Senate; Elaine McCoy, former Alberta minister; Alexa McDonough, former leader, New Democratic Party; and Lucie Pépin. former MP and senator.

Equal Voice Champions were: Jack Layton, leader of the New Democratic Party, as well as former prime ministers Jean Chretien, and Brian Mulroney.

kdiakiw@surreyleader.com

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