Josée Verner, minister of Canadian heritage and the Status of Women, has told a parliamentary committee on the Status of Women about the Harper government’s “firm commitment” to Status of Women Canada. Verner said the total budget for the federal organization was $29.9 million, “a record for Status of Women Canada.” Under the government’s new Women’s Partnership Fund, the government provided $10 million to the agency in 2007 and has no plans to stop.

The women’s organization, REAL Women of Canada, has been calling on the government since at least 1999 to abolish the department, arguing that it is an outdated, ideologically driven sink-hole of tax money that exists only to perpetuate a militantly pro-abortion and anti-family feminist agenda. REAL Women describes Status of Women as “a radical feminist organization established in 1973 under prime minister Trudeau” that, over the years, “has funded feminist groups to serve as agents of change, never recognizing that other women have different views and have no wish to be represented by these feminist organizations.”

In August 2006, a concerted lobbying effort at the grassroots level, started by REAL Women of Canada, resulted in a wave of public awareness about Status of Women. The story was eventually picked up by Maclean’s, the Globe and Mail and the Kingston Whig Standard and a number of other newspapers across the country.

In September the same year, the Tories announced they had cut $5 million over two years out of the agency’s $23 million annual budget. In December, then-heritage minister Bev Oda said 12 of the agency’s 16 offices were going to be shut down across the country, after a re-evaluation of the program showed it was not offering concrete help directly to women. According to the Public Service Alliance of Canada, 61 of the 131 jobs at the Status of Women were cut.

Subsequently, however, the Tories renewed federal funding of the Status of Women. A parliamentary review of the cuts took place in February 2007. REAL Women told that the House committee was stacked with witnesses who opposed the cuts. The 27 witnesses opposed to the cuts were all funded directly by Status of Women and, according to their testimony, they said they regarded the government grants as their “entitlements.”

This article originally appeared Feb. 15 on and is reprinted with permission.