OTTAWA – Just one day after the international development community heard threats to keep quiet or face “more backlash” from the Harper government, women’s groups today learned exactly what can happen if one opposes the Conservatives’ ideological agenda.
“After hearing about the ‘chilling’ climate amongst foreign aid groups who are afraid to speak out against government policy for fear of having their funding cut, today Canadians have learned that a dozen women’s groups have been cut off,” said Liberal Status of Women Critic Anita Neville.
Kim Bulger, executive director of Match International, is quoted in the media today saying the cuts to her organization and others are part of a pattern of “ideologically driven” punishment against feminist groups – particularly those that support funding for abortion as part of the maternal health initiative. (Canadian Press, May 4, 2010)
“Yesterday we demanded that Stephen Harper assure Canadians that there will be no retaliation against groups who disagree with his ideological positions, particularly on reproductive rights – and today this is how he responds,” said Ms. Neville.
Besides Match International, the groups having their funding cut off include:
• Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women (CRIAW)
• Conseil d’intervention pour l’accès des femmes au travail (CIAFT)
• New Brunswick Pay Equity Coalition
• Réseau des Tables régionales de groupes de femmes du Québec
• Alberta Network of Immigrant Women
• Centre de documentation sur l’éducation des adultes et la condition feminine
• Association féminine d’éducation et d’action sociale (AFEAS)
• Ontario Association of Interval and Transition Houses (OAITH)
• Womenspace Resource Centre (Lethbridge, AB)
• Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation (CERA)
• Feminists for Just and Equitable Public Policy (FemJEPP) in Nova Scotia
“These are groups who give women a voice – and that’s precisely why Stephen Harper doesn’t want them around,” said Ms. Neville. “Through every action, by every means possible, this government has done what it can to diminish women’s influence, to silence their voices and to push women’s equality backwards.”