On May 25, 1984, at the Toronto Harbour Castle Hotel, eight R.E.A.L. Women were guest at a luncheon to meet and hear Progressive Conservative leader Brian Mulroney. This was the first in a series of “Luncheon with the Leaders,” organized by the feminists to meet political leaders.
The experience of being in the company of 2,300 other women, mostly feminists, was educations. In fact it was quite revealing to finally see and hear the propagandists in person, boldly and brashly challenging Mr. Mulroney. Persuasion and tact are hardly their trademark.
The usual feminist (not necessarily women’s) issues, all well-rehearsed, were raised – divorce, equal pay for work of equal value, affirmative action, day care and, of course, abortion. “Would Mr. Mulroney change the abortion law to make abortion more available”? Did he not think “abortion was a woman’s choice”? Consistently he replied in the negative, which certainly required courage in that forum of 2,300. From his response came stony silence from the feminists and thundering applause from us – that is, all thundering applause from us – that is, all eight of us. Mila Mulroney, sitting at the next table could certainly hear us and so could Brian, as he paused, noticing our support.
Initially, we had wanted to ask Mr. Mulroney a “real woman” question. Outside the ballroom on a stand was a sign, “Questions for Mr. Mulroney” – conspicuously abandoned. Later we were told to submit our questions on cards available on our tables, to be collected before the question period. During the meal we composed our question. “What would your government do, by way of tax exemption, to recognize the magnificent contribution made by women who stay at home to raise their children, thereby saving the government huge amounts of money for subsidized day care?” The question was not collected because question period was a hoax – reserved long beforehand for a chose few.
Interestingly, that evening, on CTV News our applause was ignored, but it was reported on Global TV. Apparently a handful of R.E.A.L. Women can make a difference!
I left the luncheon, relieved at learning what we had long suspected. In seeing the feminists and in hearing their rhetoric, it became crystal clear they lack not only style, but, more significantly substance.
Somehow, it is more apparent now than ever that the R.E.A.L. Women of Canada, with our pro-family and pro-life philosophy, will grow and flourish. What they have and we lack is open access to the media and government funding. What we have and they lack is the “grassroots” of Canadian women. It’s only a question of time before the gap closes and the tide turns – in our favour.
Grace Petrasek is president of Realwomen of Canada.