The Podcast

No Second Chances

This podcast series follows the political journeys of Canada’s 13 female first ministers. Starting in childhood and finishing with retirement, we explore their most challenging and rewarding career moments and how gender played an important role in both the highs and the lows. Our findings reveal more than just personal anecdote, they provide a glimpse into larger societal trends about how women are treated in Canadian politics.

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Episode 1The Problem

In this episode, host Kate Graham looks at the experiences of women in politics – then and now. To set the scene, she speaks with: veteran journalists Robert Fife and Susan Delacourt, former federal Conservative Party leader Rona Ambrose, current Green Party leader Elizabeth May, and University of Toronto Professor Dr. Sylvia Bashevkin.

Episode 2Raising Leaders

We start where all good stories do: the beginning. In this episode, host Kate Graham speaks with Canada’s 12 female first ministers about their childhoods, whether politics was a lifelong dream, and who shaped them along the way.

Episode 3Making A Run for It

A journey of a thousand miles (well, kilometers in Canada) begins with a single step. That’s true for the 12 women who would become Canada’s sole female first ministers. Find out what led them to take that first big step and run for public office.

Episode 4And So It Begins

Election night came and went, and the twelve women have all been elected for the first time. Find out more about the experiences they faced as rookie politicians: what hurdles did they confront, who supported them, and what surprised them about those early days?

Episode 5Last Woman Standing: An Alberta Election Special

In this episode, we take a break from our series on Canada’s female first ministers for a special discussion focused on the 2019 Alberta general election. Premier Rachel Notley is quite literally the last woman standing when it comes to Canada’s female First Ministers, and the election outcome will be historic, one way or another.


Episode 6Stepping Into The Ring

Running in a leadership race isn’t for the faint of heart. There are upsides, like working to make a difference in the lives of constituents, and there are downsides, like opening yourself up to fierce criticism. What compelled these twelve women to take the leap? What was the experience like?

Episode 7The Peak

Only twelve women have ever led Canada’s federal, provincial and territorial governments. For almost all, it was the first time a woman took the post. What did they bring to the table, how did their styles differ from the men that came before them, and what was the reaction?

Episode 8Things Fall Apart

Female first ministers in Canada tend to last about half as long as men. They reach the top only to fall back down, often because they enter into their roles when chances of failure are highest. In this episode, we explore what happened when things took a turn for the worse.

Episode 9What Doesn’t Kill You by No Second Chances

Canada’s female first ministers have weathered the rise and fall of Canadian politics – and emerged from it as changed people. What has post-politics life looked like for these women? What did they learn during their time in office that paved the way for what came next? Most importantly, what do they want to see for the future of women in Canadian politics?

Episode 10Consensus in the North, with Eva Aariak and Nellie Cournoyea

Two of these stories are not like the others. Eva Aariak and Nellie Cournoyea are both Indigenous women, leading within consensus-style governments. In this episode, host Kate Graham examines whether this political environment is more conducive to women’s leadership.

Episode 11And Then There Were None, with Rachel Notley

Rachel Notley made history when she was elected as the 17th Premier of Alberta in 2015, leading the province’s first New Democratic Party government after four decades of Progressive Conservative rule. In the 2019 Alberta election, Notley became the most recent female First Minister to not be given a second chance, losing to Jason Kenney’s United Conservatives. Notley now serves as the Leader of the Official Opposition – and she’s got quite a story to tell.

Episode 12Finale, Part 1: Setting The Stage

On June 19th, the No Second Chances project came to a close with a major event held in Ottawa. It was the largest gathering of female first ministers in Canadian history. Kate Graham opened the day with introductory remarks, followed by a keynote speech from former Premier of Alberta, Rachel Notley.
Notley spoke about the known, universal barriers that stand in the way of women’s leadership in politics, the importance of building alliances across party lines, and a new troubling development that will likely prevent women from entering the ring at all.

Episode 12Finale, Part 2: Women In Leadership Roles

The first panel of the day was moderated by Huffington Post Ottawa Bureau Chief Althia Raj, and included input from former Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, Kathy Dunderdale, former Premier of the Yukon, Pat Duncan, and former Premier of Alberta, Rachel Notley. The panelists spoke about what led them to run for political office, the roadblocks that prevent women from running – including the vitriol on social media targeted specifically at women – and the need for greater diversity in legislatures across Canada.

Episode 12Finale, Part 3: Women In Politics

The second panel of the day was moderated by filmmaker and President of Komal Minhas Inc., Komal Minhas, and included input from former Premier of Ontario, Kathleen Wynne, former Premier of Alberta, Alison Redford, and former Premier of P.E.I Catherine Callbeck. The panelists spoke about what it was like when there were six female premiers in Canada, what still gives them hope about women’s place in politics, and how they got up after the fall.

Episode 12Finale, Part 4: Towards Gender Equality in Canada

Introduced by longtime political commentator Steve Paikin, former Prime Minister Kim Campbell spoke about her short but impactful time in Canada’s highest political rank, what life looked like after leaving, and what keeps her hopeful about seeing the next female prime minister in Canada.