Womenâ€™s Groups Fear Tories will cut Funding of Militant Feminist Hate Groups
(Rights group forced to close, other organizations could follow as money dries up)
OTTAWA â€” A leading Canadian womenâ€™s rights group has been forced to close its office for lack of money and other federally financed organizations fear a similar fate as the Conservative government zeroes in on a promise to cut spending by $1 billion this fiscal year.
The prospect cheers Gwen Landolt, vice-presi¬dent of the pro-life, pro-family conservative lobby group REAL Women Canada and a fierce critic of federal funding of â€œfeministâ€ and other special inter¬est groups.
â€œItâ€™s simply an abuse of taxpayersâ€™ money to fund only one ideology,â€ Landolt said in an interview.
Suspense over how much, if any, money will flow to womenâ€™s and other groups should end within the next week or so when the government tells Canadians what programs it plans to curb or kill to meet its budget commitment.
Opposition MPs accuse the government of using the spending review to dismantle by â€œstealthâ€ the 30-year-old agency known as Status of Women Canada, which, among other things, hands out almost $11 million a year to groups committed to promoting gender equality and the full participation of women in society.
Bev Oda, minister responsible for the status of women, is playing her cards close to her chest, refus¬ing requests for interviews and sidestepping direct questions about possible funding cuts. Agency offi¬cials also have not returned repeated phone calls.
Under heated questioning in the House of Com¬mons this week, Oda said the government is com¬mitted to taking â€œdramaticâ€ action to improve the lives of women.
But she also said money had been wasted on social and cultural groups in the past, and the gov¬ernment was determined to ensure it gets put to the best use in the future.
NDP MP Irene Mathyssen, the partyâ€™s status of women critic, said the governmentâ€™s foot dragging on hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of pend¬ing funding applications from womenâ€™s groupâ€™s means programs are being cut one by one.
â€œWe are raising the alarm,â€ Mathyssen said in an interview. â€œThis government clearly has no interest in the status of women.â€
The Ottawa-based National *censor*ociation of Women and the Law NAWL, which has sought yearly finding of about $350AE to finance its advo¬cacy and research activities on such issues as equal pay for work of equal value, was forced to shutdown earlier this month â€” and lay off its two paid employees â€” after it ran out of funds.
NAWL treasurer Alison Dewar said the group, which is still paying rent on its office, hopes to reopen if it gets federal funding.
Landolt said the Harper government should kill Status of Women Canada.
â€œIt [the agency] is based on the whole concept that women are victims of a patriarchal society,â€ Landolt said. â€œNobody really believes that anymore. Its time has passed.â€
Presenter: Dick Freeman
Author: Norma Greenway
News Service: Can Way