The Federal Government has turned down an application for a grant made by the Real Women of Canada on the grounds that the organization’s aims do not meet the “spirit” of the Women’s Program.
A letter from the Department of the Secretary of State to Real Women stated that “the promotion of a particular family model is not within the spirit of the objectives of the Program. The Program concentrates on supporting groups who are working to explore all options for women as they work towards equality in a society that is changing rapidly.”
Real Women had requested a sustaining grant of $93,400 and a special projects grant of $17,250 to assist with costs of their first national conference.
The Mulroney government has, however, awarded a grant $300,000 to the National Action Committee on the Status of Women (NAC) and continues to fund other feminist-oriented organizations.
Walter McLean, the minister responsible for the status of women, requested a meeting with representatives from NAC shortly after taking up his appointment. When representatives of Real Women requested a meeting with the Minister, he informed them he was “too busy.” Real Women president, Grace Petrasek, suggests that Mr. McLean’s position be renamed as “minister responsible for the status of feminists.”
In a letter to the Prime Minister protesting his government’s discriminatory policy in funding women’s groups, Mrs. Petrasek pointed out that the aims of Real Women were explicitly in keeping with the objectives of the Women’s Program.
“The whole purpose of R.E.A.L. Women is to provide options for women,” she said. “Instead of women being obliged to enter into the feminist mold of achieving success in the workplace – especially in traditionally male-dominated fields, regardless of the fact that it may be detrimental both to family and parenting responsibilities, the objective of R.E.A.L. Women is to work for changes in society, both economically and socially, so as to provide women with genuine options in the changing society. These options include working outside the home in various fields, including traditional as well as non-traditional jobs, and/or remaining in the home, if they so choose.
Mrs. Petrasek pointed out that the modern-day interpretation of feminism is not supported by all the women of Canada. During the 1984 federal election, NAC supported the NDP party as their policy positions were closest to feminist positions. In voting, however, women supported neither NAC nor the NDP. Thirty per cent of women voted for the Liberal party, 40 per cent voted for the Progressive Conservative party, and only 18 per cent voted for the NDP.
“One can only conclude that your government regards any organization, which does not support the radical feminist positions, as being unworthy of support an recognition,” Mrs. Petrasek told the Prime Minister, “In addition, “she said, “by funding only the so-called feminist groups, we can only conclude that the latter’s political activities both reflects and furthers the social agenda of your government. If so, a cruel hoax was perpetrated on the Canadian people, who by voting for your party so overwhelmingly clearly rejected the extremist policies of the other parties, as well as that of NAC.”
Real Women are asking their supporters to write to both Prime Minister Mulroney and Walter McLean to protest such discrimination in funding women’s groups. The addresses are: The Right Hon. Brian Mulroney, Prime Minister of Canada, House of Commons, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6. The Hon. Walter McLean, Secretary of State, House of Commons, Room 232, Confederation Building, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6