Michelle Rempel Garner shows us what it’s really like to be a woman in politics in Canada

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Filmmaker Chloe Sosa-Sims follows three women in politics to show what it’s really like to be in this historically male-dominated career, including Canadian Conservative MP Michelle Rempel Garner, in pack hunting, as part of the Hot Docs 2022 festival.

“It’s a global phenomenon, the things that women face, if you look at what Hilary Clinton faced running for president,” says Jess Philips, Labor MP in the UK, at the start. of the documentary.

“She had to love, bake cookies and also be a lot more knowledgeable about foreign policy than Donald Trump had to be. No one expected him to put on an apron and walk around with Martha Stewart talking about her favorite cookie recipe, for goodness sake.

“Women, women of color, we work harder, we prepare harder, we build more relationships, we have to do all of these things because we know we are expected to fail,” Pramila Jayapal , Democratic Congressman in the United States. in Pack hunting.

Pramila Jayapal at the Medicare for All press conference in Washington, DC. in “Pack hunting” (Daniel Marc Froidevaux)

For Sosa-Sims, the purpose of this film, which follows the three women through their respective electoral campaigns, committed to their feminist ideals, regardless of their political affiliation.

“I was interested in exploring women and politics, sort of from a representational perspective, so I was more curious [about]how are women in leadership positions around the world,” said filmmaker Sosa-Sims Yahoo Canada. “I [needed] to find exceptional women who are actually in politics and who push against the political institution and challenge it in a way that I have never seen.

I thought they really represented that fiery spirit, and they were all trailblazers and change makers in their own way, though incredibly different… I got interested in the question, if you’re a strong-willed woman who enters politics, or just a foreigner entering politics, can you succeed and what does it look like? And what do you need to do to succeed and create change?Chloe Sosa-Sims, director of ‘Hunting in Packs’

Jess Phillips at an International Women’s Day march in London in

Jess Phillips at an International Women’s Day march in London in ‘Hunting In Packs’. (Lulu Wei)

While the movie is filled with incredibly important talk, Chloe Sosa-Sims gave Pack hunting a more whimsical, sort of absurd tone that gives the film a unique dynamic, without undermining anyone’s message.

“Having a more comedic and absurd tone, especially in the beginning, was important, just to showcase the circus that is politics,” she explained. “Politics is naturally a kind of absurd institution, so I wanted to emphasize that with humor.”

“I feel like I don’t normally connect with movies that are that serious in their attempt to look at gender issues or gender parity. I tend to connect with things a little more humorous or cynical, or using satire as a way to connect with the audience, so I wanted to bring that tone into the film as well.

“I have many other battles to fight”

At the start of this film, Michell Rempel Garner is honest that she regularly receives interview requests to talk about women in politics, but she is quick to say no.

“I don’t want to talk about it,” she says in the film. “I want to do my job, leave me alone.”

“Why does it have to be me? I have plenty of other stuff to do. I have a lot of other fights to fight that people are counting on me to fight.

In the end, what prompted the Canadian politician to agree to participate in Pack hunting is that she didn’t see the lens of the Sosa-Sims film as the typical angle she presented, which she described as “victim porn.”

“Maybe it was a different lens that was used, and maybe a more realistic lens,” Rempel Garner said. Yahoo Canada. “I think it’s really important and I think it advances the voice of women in politics.”

From a Canadian perspective, we go through the 2019 federal election (when Andrew Scheer was leader of the Conservative Party) through Rempel Garner’s campaign in his riding of Calgary – Nose Hill.

Pack hunting takes us behind the curtain, so to speak, in the work of Rempel Garner, including showing how exceptionally dedicated she is to mentoring her team and other female Conservative candidates running for office. She explicitly says that by standing up for the policies they believe in, by approaching the election campaign with authenticity, it makes it easier for all the women who run behind them to do so, regardless of the outcome of the election or their campaign. .

“Women have come a long way but men still control most of the levers of power,” she says in the film. “I don’t want to be part of a system where I say it’s OK.”

“The political establishment is shit. It’s the antithesis of what people need. The political establishment values ​​women they can symbolize. Women who will be quiet and smiling and will be in the photo shoots, and will wear the shitty lines and be the scapegoats.

Rempel Garner is honest that she has had experiences as a woman in politics in Canada that have been ‘sexist’ and not ‘particularly positive’, but at the end of the day she strives to make so that other women do not have to be subjected to the same experiences.

“I often find that women’s rights are something that – we always try to keep those rights rather than make progress and if you really want to make progress, if you constantly fight the same battle over and over again, generation after generation , you’re not moving forward,” she said. “I wouldn’t want the women who come in behind me to have to go through what I’m going through.”

“I’m 42 now. There’s a generation of women coming up behind me who face barriers to equal opportunity…and we can’t be gatekeepers for them. We have to stand up for them and listen to them, but at the same time, also making sure that the experiences that I have, that I’m going through, don’t complicate their lives.

Michelle Rempel Garner walks away from the action at the Calgary Stampede in

Michelle Rempel Garner walks away from the action at the Calgary Stampede in “Hunting In Packs.” (Lulu Wei)

“I think whatever the political allegiance, women are always symbolized”

Reviewing where Canada stands in terms of supporting women in politics, Michelle Rempel Garner points out that we still have work to do.

“I think regardless of political stripe, women are always symbolic, I think the lack of gender parity in the House of Commons is indicative of systemic issues that prevent women from being elected federally. in Canada,” she said. “I also think women, a lot of us are consensus builders and a lot of us are also truth tellers, … we understand that our voice has had power and that disrupts the system of natural power.”

“I think until we see some cultural shifts behind the really deep-rooted issues behind the lack of gender parity, it’s still going to be a tough climb. It’s still a tough climb today, but it doesn’t doesn’t mean we haven’t made progress and I think we both need to celebrate progress while understanding that there’s still a lot of room for growth, and redouble our commitments to make growth happen .

Hunting In Packs screens as part of the 2022 Hot Docs festival on May 5 and is available to stream online for five days starting May 3.

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