Internal personality and philosophical conflicts between board members of REAL Women of Canada that have been simmering over the past several years finally came to a head in Toronto on February 20. A stormy annual general meeting in the Royal York Hotel climaxed with the resignation of newly re-elected president Lynne Scime and two other board members who announced the next day the formation of a new pro-family group, Family Forum.
Arguments over the annual financial statements and the accuracy of the previous AGM’s minutes, tied up the meeting for several hours and it was after 11 p.m. before voting for a new board, began. By the time the votes were counted and the results announced, most of the nearly one hundred members had left: many of them disturbed by the hostility expressed by some board members and other towards the outgoing board.
Running for election as president were Lynne Scime of Hamilton, Ontario, (1987 president), and Lettie Morse, Head of the Ottawa chapter. Running for election to the board were many previous board members as well as members new to the national scene. The results showed that many of those voting took note of the charges that the REAL Women board representation had been biased in favour of Ontario. Eight Ontario members were nominated to the 11-member board, only three were elected. Although no candidate from New Brunswick was nominated, every other province with the exception of Saskatchewan has national board representation.
As soon as the result of the vote was announced, newly re-elected president Lynne Scime announced her resignation. Explaining her decision, Mrs. Scime noted that the composition of the new board was such that she knew her position was untenable. She said she was unwilling to submit to another year of harassment and undermining by fellow board members. Her resignation was immediately followed by that of Connie McKenna, the previous treasurer.
Lettie Morse was proposed to take the president’s position and this was accepted by a majority of members remaining at a very late hour, although it was apparent that many members abstained from voting on this motion. The candidate for board of directors with the next highest number of votes, Peggy Steacy from B.C., was voted in to take Mrs. McKenna’s place on the board. During the annual conference the following day, board member Judy Davidson from Nova Scotia submitted her resignation.
At the annual conference, nearly 250 members listened to a variety of presentations of concern to REAL Women. It began with review of the Supreme Court abortion decision given by Sue Hierlihy, Ottawa board member for Campaign Life Coalition, and a presentation of the Sunday Shopping debate, prepared by Shirley Pennell, former national secretary to Real Women. The rest of the morning was devoted to a panel on day care, discussed by Lynne Scime, from her experience as a social worker; Brenda Catalano, who has early childhood education experience; Dr. Murray McGovern a child psychiatrist; and Ian Shugart, policy advisor on day care to Health Minister Jake Epp.
The luncheon speaker Betty Steele, received a standing ovation for her lively discussion of the “appalling ramifications” of the women’s liberation movement, which she has exposed in her book, The Feminist Takeover.
Pro-life Lawyer, Angela Costigan, opened the afternoon session with a legal look at the consequences of the Supreme Court decision on abortion. This was followed by a presentation by Cornelia Ferreira, on “ The Hidden dangers in our child abuse prevention programmes.”
The final part of the conference the address from the President was opened by Lynne Scime who announced to the membership at large her resignation from that position and her intention to lead the newly formed Family Forum.
Incoming president, Lettie Morse, closed the conference. She thanked the previous executive for their hard work on behalf of the organization and announced that the new executive would work out of Ottawa. Mrs. Morse also announced that the group would immediately begin to work on plans for a lobby of MPs in Ottawa, to be held in November.
The new board of REAL Women includes Gwen Landolt (vice president) Ontario; Margaret Trudeau (secretary) Ontario; Audrey Charles, (treasurer) Ontario; Wendy Woodcock, Manitoba: Doreen Beagan, Prince Edward Island; Betty Ann Snee, Alberta; Phyllis Simon, B.C; Josephine Pike, Nfld; Ghitta Sternberg, Quebec; Margaret Revill, Alberta; and Peggy Steacy, B.C.