By Eli Schuster
The InterimCanada’s most prominent pro-abortion, radical feminist lobby group, the National Action Committee on the Status of Women (NAC), is in serious financial trouble and may be forced out of business.
In March, the National Post reported the group has been so burdened by debt over the last two years that it “has been effectively closed” as it struggles to pay its bills. The group’s problems began in the late 1990s, when the Chretien government cancelled the group’s core funding of nearly $250,000 a year, and requested NAC officials to apply for specific program funds. NAC still owes almost $30,000 in unpaid taxes, interest and penalties, and is asking the federal Liberals for interest relief and a $150,000 grant from Status of Women Canada to revive itself.
NAC’s vice-president, Anne Kettenbeil, said the group withheld the money so it would not have to lay off employees. “You just keep going and say, ‘Well, when the money comes in from fundraising, we’ll just pay it back,'” she told reporters.
Founded in 1972, NAC has long claimed a hotly disputed membership of nearly three million women through its association with over 700 women’s organizations across the country, although it also claimed to be “at least 50 per cent lesbian” four years ago.
Perhaps best known for launching the careers of former NAC presidents Judy Rebick and University of British Columbia professor Sunera Thobani, who famously denounced America’s “blood-soaked” foreign policy shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, NAC has been accused of promoting a hard-left, radical feminist agenda that has little to do with the real needs of Canadian women. The group refused to support former Progressive Conservative prime minister Kim Campbell, and opposed the 1999 erection of a statue of Victorian-era suffragette Nellie McClung and four other women on the grounds of alleged racism in their backgrounds. At one NAC-organized lobby session, members of the group heckled Liberal cabinet ministers, and actually accused them of waging a war of ethnic cleansing against Jamaican-Canadian men.
Writing recently in the Globe and Mail, Rebick claimed NAC had been “silenced” and was “the victim of the right-wing shift in civil society, a 10-year campaign against NAC itself, led by right-wing forces in the country, and government cutbacks.”
Others disagree. John Williamson, the federal director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation told reporters: “I would certainly hope that the government is not going to treat this lobby group any different than they would hard-working Canadians, who pay their taxes on time, and in the case when they fall behind, also have to pay interest and penalties.”
Diane Watts, a researcher with the 55,000-member, pro-life, pro-family REAL Women organization, told The Interim “it would be a good start” and “nature taking its course,” if NAC winds up out of business, but wonders if it will really happen. “It’s happened before,” she said. “Many times, (NAC) has been close to closing up shop,” yet it has been bailed out by government funds. “NAC depends on government largesse for its existence,” said Watts, adding that at one point, the group was collecting nearly $600,000 a year before budget cuts reduced that figure to about $250,000.
Even if NAC bites the dust, Watts argues that many equally radical, yet less flamboyant groups could easily take its place. She notes that between 1997 and 2003, the number of recipients of grants from Status of Women Canada decreased from 343 to 222, yet the funds disbursed actually increased by nearly $4 million, from $8,286,059 to $12,297,090. “We’ll be quite happy if NAC stops getting funded by the federal government,” she said. “It all depends if the government wants to continue funding extreme groups.”
REAL Women receives no government funding.