By Tim Bloedow
Feminists at the University of Quebec recently spent (or at least were given to spend) $98,000 of Canadian taxpayers money to research the apparently dangerous involvement of “right-wing anti-feminist groups” at the United Nations. They have released an initial report, prepared by Anick Druelle, and many pro-lifers aren’t sure whether to greet it with humour or outrage; most, so far, find it rather amusing.
Austin Ruse, director of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute at the UN, is so convinced that most people will immediately see the absurdity of the document that he is encouraging pro-family advocates to disseminate it as widely as possible. Other pro-lifers say they could have saved taxpayers over $90,000 while producing an even more thorough document for their political opponents. None of the material compiled appears to have been confidential and the spin put on it by the radical feminist authors is boring in its predictability.
Even the mainstream media has showed outrage at the federal government for funding a left-wing lobby to spy on right-wing groups – that’s the way the Calgary Herald saw the situation. A National Post editorial disparaged the feminist academics at the University of Quebec by noting that their hit list included people wearing “Motherhood” buttons and carrying Bibles. The editorial makes the observation that “by far the strongest flavour of the booklet is its anti-Catholicism.”
The paper was produced to help radicals at the recent Beijing+5 conference identify and understand their pro-family opponents. The rationale for the project was the success social conservatives had in restraining the activist agenda of the feminists at the Beijing+5 PrepCom earlier this year. In fact, most of the references as to how pro-family forces behave were from the PrepCom meeting.
Ms. Druelle writes, for example, that “the representatives of right-wing anti-feminist groups made themselves quite visible, wearing red buttons reading ‘Motherhood’ or blue ones that said ‘Family,’ by walking about with Bibles in their hands, as was the case during a panel organized by the Lesbian Caucus; by marking their foreheads with ashen crosses on Ash Wednesday, or, in the case of the Franciscan Brothers, by wearing robes.”
The greatest criticism over the document from pro-family forces was the use of taxpayer dollars to fund it. REAL Women vice-president Gwen Landolt called it a “blacklist” and told National Post that she felt “extremely put out that they are using taxpayers‚ money to smear and defame us.” Tanya Granic of Campaign Life Coalition Youth, also surprised at the use of taxpayer dollars, asserted that the intent behind the paper “is to discredit pro-life groups and put up a red light that we’re here.” Canadian Alliance family critic Eric Lowther called it an “attack piece” saying that it “seeks to marginalize conservative organizations participating in the Beijing+5 conference.”
The objections made about pro-family groups confirm that the battle lines are the issues of abortion and homosexuality. Among the criticisms by Ms. Druelle is the complaint that “these groups demand not only that the right to abortion be denied, but also that the traditional patriarchal family be the only type of family to be recognized by national governments. Many of these groups have aggressive attitudes not only towards feminists but also towards homosexuals. They perceive feminism and homosexuality as threats to the family.”
Ms. Druelle alleged that pro-family forces used “false information in their information leaflets,” that they “attempted to cause obstructions and prevent meetings” and that they “intimidated” other participants. Austin Ruse, credited with spearheading the current coalition of “right-wing anti-feminist … militants,” was accused of engaging in “disinformation” for calling the Beijing Platform for Action “one of the most radical and dangerous documents you can imagine.”
Ms. Druelle trotted out the canards about pro-life groups being to blame for violence: “their discourse is intolerance with respect to the difficult reproduction-related choices certain women must make. The pro-life groups cannot deny the fact that this intolerant discourse has justified acts of violence perpetrated against abortion clinics in the United States and Canada.” She even charged that “by denying the existence of sexism and racism, R.E.A.L. Women contributes to their perpetuation, adding that the group “contribut[es] to the reproduction of stereotypes that encourage violence against homosexuals” by objecting to the awarding of “equal rights” to Canadian homosexualists.
The expose was funded by the Humanities and Social Sciences Research Council, a tax-funded government agency. Mr. Lowther condemned the Liberal government for picking and choosing which Canadian taxpayers “are acceptable and which should be banned from participating in the democratic process.” He added: “It is ironic that a paper which was prepared for the UN conference on women’s equality would show such bias.”
In fact, Canada’s Liberal government has openly done so for many years. Strident feminist Liberal MP Hedy Fry, the federal status of women minister, has objected to giving taxpayer dollars to REAL Women and has said that the reason for her position is the failure of the pro-family group to subscribe to the Liberal government’s feminist definition of gender equality.
The University of Quebec’s hit list includes Campaign Life Coalition, REAL Women of Canada, American Life League, Concerned Women for America, the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, Human Life International, the World Youth Alliance, the International Right to Life Federation, and the Family Life Counselling Association of Kenya.