As many of you know, last September I created a Facebook group called Proud to be a Member of that Left-Wing Group called Women.
It was in response to PM Stephen Harper's scary speech in Sault Ste. Marie, where he thought only the party faithful were in attendance. Thankfully, a non-con was there and made a video which exposed Harper -- again -- for the nasty angry piece of work he is.
(The video is by my friend Pale Cold of A Creative Revolution, one of the admins for the group.)
We are now 4,072 members strong. Not the size of that wildly successful Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament (CAPP) Facebook group, where there are now more than 221,000 members.
And we are growing angrier.
That's because we can see how the HarperCons are dismantling support for women, sticking to the agenda drawn up by the far right R.E.A.L. Women which appears to be financed, at least in part, by the Northern Foundation. (For background, read Emily's long but informative post here. And here is another one. Then check this out.)
You want to know more about UNreal Women? Read this, one of their latest missives designed to make it harder and harder for women to maintain their rights, economic independence, political voices and reproductive choices.
These people -- just how many women are there in UNreal Women anyway? -- are so extreme that they believe Harper's little poppet Minister of State for the Status of Women is too liberal.
Where is the Conservative Minister responsible for the Status of Women in all this, since she must approve these questionable grants before they are finalized? The current Minister, the Hon. Helena Guergis (Simcoe Grey) must either be lacking in common sense to believe the nonsense plied her by the bureaucrats in her department, or she is sympathetic to the duplicity being carried out by her department and is delighted to push these funds into feminist hands. Either way, she is an ineffective, toothless representative of the Conservative government and should be removed.
Over the weekend, I received an email revealing that it just isn't enough for Harper and his band of Con Men to lie about abortion, campaign against reproductive rights for women around the world or use backdoor means to make abortion illegal here. Oh no. Now, the ''government'' -- in quotes since it's out keeping the country on ice -- has gone after the Canadian Federation for Sexual Health, formerly the Planned Parenthood Federation of Canada. Funding has been slashed by, wait for it, 99 per cent.
The federation, formerly the Planned Parenthood Federation of Canada and still the Canadian member of the International Planned Parenthood Federation, has charitable status, according to the Canada Revenue Agency. The CFSH says on its website that it “promote(s) sexual and reproductive health and rights in Canada and abroad.” It also admits being a “pro-choice organization.” Its member affiliates, which operate in all 10 provinces, provide sex information, contraception and abortion referrals; according to REAL Women of Canada, it is the leading abortion referral service in Canada.
According to the CFSH’s website, it is also involved in advocacy, “act(ing) as a national voice to protect and improve sexual and reproductive health and rights.” Although the CFSH does not list an amount it spends on lobbying, the old Planned Parenthood Federation of Canada admitted to spending up to 10 per cent of its annual budget on political advocacy, which is permitted under Canada Revenue Agency rules for charities.
According to the financial returns of the CFSH and the former PPFC, which are public information available at the Canada Revenue Agency website, the federation received $1,143,358 in federal government grants in 2005, while their total expenditures that year came to $2,360,903. In other words, Ottawa provided about half (48 per cent) of their operating budget.
In 2006, they received $1,285,674 in federal grants and spent $2,278,884. Government handouts accounted for more than half (56.4 per cent) of their expenditures in 2006. In 2006, the Planned Parenthood Federation of Canada changed its name to the Canadian Federation for Sexual Health.
Beginning in 2007, grants from the federal government began to decrease as it received $743,745. Its expenditures fell to $1,655,249.
In 2008, grants totaled $482,498 while its expenditures dipped to $1,467,005, about a million dollars less than it spent just three years earlier.
In 2009, total grants were $9,381. The Canadian Federation for Sexual Health’s expenditures last year totalled $815,153. Federal grants accounted for just 1.1 per cent of its spending.
Can it be a coincidence that its funding was cut throughout the Con years?
I think not.
I think not.
How does all this jibe with the fact that most Canadians support a woman's right to choose?
Well, in the HarperCon Good Book, it doesn't.
Anyway, we left-wing fringed ladies are taking advantage of the CAPP momentum to get some action going. We're tired of women's issues always taking a back seat to those of men, often in the name of economic expediency.
Which is why our Elizabeth Pickett, the group's life force, wrote this today on Facebook. I quote it here in full for those who don't have accounts -- although I urge you to please join us.
I feel as though we've been sitting on a lot of eggs over here at Proud Fringers since the group blossomed from the work of Antonia Zerbisias. We've grown the group to 4000 women and men, we've been the keepers of the links, the followers of issues affecting "left-wing fringe groups", we've written letters and even had them published, we've expressed our outrage and given our support and encouragement to each other and to other groups.
I think we've reached a critical point. Spurred on by the work we've all done and perhaps by the excitement created at CAPP, many more people are energized by the issues we've tried to bring to attention over here at Fringers. The issues are exploding all around us. More and more often I hear us saying, "We have to do something."
I couldn't agree more. I believe now is the time. As Judy Rebick said, Harper has given us an opening. Many of us know that what we are seeing now has been there all along - Harper's Conservative government doesn't just ignore women and children and minorities and the disabled and vulnerable children and poverty and gays and lesbians - his government is active in attempting to propogate oppression. Strong word that, but appropriate. The call outs on Harper have started to gain attention in the mainstream. Now is the time to organize and act: now or possibly never.
As a second wave feminist, I'm aware of some of the mistakes we made, the things we failed to see and the way those mistakes and failures weakened our movement from within so that it could be more easily attacked and fractured from without. There were lots of things but I'm going to choose two, or maybe two and a half: 1.) we were fractured from within by our difficulty in seeing and integrating lesbians, trans women, racialized women - African and Caribbean women, Aboriginal and Inuit women, disabled women, women who were not middle class and who often were the poorest of the poor; 2.) we were more easily attacked from without because we were disorganized by our inability to act for all women, to speak with something resembling one voice.
If we're going to make Fringers into a movement, even a small one, we have to reach out to those people who are not now among us. To young women and much older women and any woman without an effective political voice. And to the men who are willing to join us, support us and to act with us, not just for us. I believe we have to do this as part of planning for action. And I believe we have to begin planning and organizing. It's been exhilarating doing the research, adding the links, getting in touch with women and men across the country. We can keep doing that and we'll have some effect. But to have the kind of impact I believe many of us want, I think we have to have plans.
I'd like to begin to contact those young women like Ontario RebELLES and women who have come to Canada from other countries, the groups of women advocates for the disabled, against child poverty, working for women against male violence, Aboriginal women, advocates for women in prison and so forth. I don't think it's an overwhelming task.
I'd like to meet in person with whatever core group can take part and skyping with those women who can't be physically present. We need ideas, we need some wisdom, we need to know what works and what doesn't, what HAS worked and what hasn't and we need a plan. We've started out slowly and we've built something. It's time to take the next step.
Let's get it together.
Support Bros included.
P.S. I took the photo at Dundas Square during the anti-prorogation rally on Jan. 23.
P.P.S. I have to question the pathetic media coverage of the Toronto rally.
CFTO-CP24 gave it maybe 20 seconds top on its 6 p.m. local ''newscast.'' The now misnamed Citytv have it nothing -- because it has canceled its weekend supper-hour newscast. All reports seriously understated the attendance.
Police estimate that, at any event, 7,000 people fill the square. At the rally's peak, people had spilled into Yonge Street, necessitating its closure. So, it was 7,000 at minimum. Perhaps more. Add in rallies in Oakville, Mississauga and other 'burbs -- and it's a movement.