Yesterday, Status of Women Canada issued what is possibly the most appalling and disturbing press release in the history of this government. It announced funding for Regroupement des femmes de la région de Matane, in Quebec. The programme they’re funding – one “targeting the hypersexualization of girls as a root cause of dating violence.” The release later goes on to say that “Research shows that hypersexualization puts pressure on girls to engage prematurely in sexual activity and also promotes violence in intimate relationships.” In other words, it’s all the girl’s fault she gets date-raped because she dressed too slutty.
The Toronto Star’s Susan Delacourt posted on her blog that this release rendered her mute. “We’ve come a long way, baby,” she posted, and it’s hard not to see why. But honestly? It’s not all that unexpected considering some of the other things that have come out of Guergis’ mouth lately.
It was only a few weeks ago in Question Period, when the Liberals tossed out a fairly standard question about the Conservatives’ rather regressive policies when it comes to the status of women in this country – the way that they slashed the funds of a lot of Status of Women programmes, the way that they dropped the word “equality” from the mandate of the department, and so on. And what did Guergis say? That the opposition was simply repeating “crazy stories” in the House.
Not that Guergis has ever been a competent junior minister – not when she was secretary of state to the Minister of Foreign Affairs in the last Parliament (remember how she decided her time was better spent at a cocktail party of expats in Mexico rather than providing a consular visit to Brenda Martin when she was in a Mexican prison without due process?), and certainly not in her current portfolio. If one were truly cynical, one might suspect that the only reason she’s in cabinet is to boost the number of women in the ranks. And what better apologist for the government’s appalling record on Status of Women than to have someone photogenic fill the role?
Facts and logic apparently don’t hold sway in Guergis’ world, and apparently neither does a century of the advancement of women’s rights. The funding of a group whose star programme is to tell girls that they’re getting raped because they dress like sluts is so odious in it’s hard-right ideology that it’s no surprise that this government is funding it. One would have thought that if Guergis had any self-respect as a woman, she would have put her foot down and refused to associate with this kind of setback to women’s equality.
“I am proud to be part of a Government that recognizes the significance of this issue and the need to take concrete steps to end violence against all women,” Guergis said in the release.
But this isn’t a concrete step. It’s a slap in the face. The only next logical step will be Status of Women funds for burquas, so that these girls won't be dressed provocatively enough to drive men so mad with lust that they'll be raped. Don't laugh – that's the kind of justification used by the Taliban.
Elsewhere, the Privacy Commissioner gave Facebook a smackdown for its privacy practices, and says that if they don’t clean them up in thirty days, she’s taking them to the Federal Court. (You can read the full report here).
Jason Kenney denies that there was an agreement in place with the Czech government to diffuse the visa issue only days before he announced the visa requirements. The Czech Republic is now threatening to get the whole EU to require visas for Canadians travelling to any EU country. This at the same time when we’re trying to strengthen our trading ties to the EU at a time when tensions are already up over the seal hunt ban. Way to go for thinking that decision through!
It looks like Gary Goodyear and his wife may be in hot water over the fact that they’re listed as priority creditors to the agency his wife worked at, for property they own that the agency was renting, seemingly for no reason. This can’t be good. Could his resignation from Cabinet be not too far behind?