41st Canadian Parliament
3 min

Senate QP: REAL Women and the Diamond Jubilee

My story from last week about REAL Women of
Canada being invited to serve as a partner in the Diamond Jubilee medals process
was brought to the Senate floor today for Senate question period. Senator Terry
Mercer, who is an advocate for stopping bullying, took particular exception to
REAL Women’s position that bullying is justified by “frustrated” students in
the face of the special attention given to queer and non-Christian students. 
The exchange is as follows:

Terry M Mercer:
Honourable senators, Diamond
Jubilee medals will be awarded to over 60,000 deserving Canadians over the next
year. While we and the members of the other place can nominate anyone,
there are also 200 organizations in several different categories across Canada
that can nominate. 
In the social and volunteer sector, there
are organizations such as Big Brothers Big Sisters, Volunteer Canada, and my
old employer, the YMCA. Then there is also REAL Women. REAL Women is a
socially conservative organization that has made very interesting comments on
such things as abortion, contraception, gay marriage and gay rights. Can
the leader kindly tell us why a group known for its biased views of one group of
people in society over another would be asked to nominate for such a
prestigious award?

Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government):
Honourable senators, I have no idea. All I know, honourable senators, is
that all of us have been invited to participate in the awarding of the Diamond
Jubilee medals. Many Canadians from many organizations are people who
obviously will be chosen by many of us to receive the medal.
This is an award given out on behalf of
Her Majesty the Queen. I cannot respond to something over which the
government has no control.

Honourable senators, if you go to
their website, there is an interesting section called "Carol's
Corner." Carol is a composite REAL Woman. Her column has been
written by a number of contributors. This is them speaking: 
“She” will continue to weigh in on all
kinds of matters of interest to both our members and those who visit our site. I viewed this column and in one section
from December 2011, Carol comments on the columns in the National Post
that were written about bullying, a very timely subject. I quote:

. . . the school boards are so
gay-friendly that gays, like other, favoured, usually “multicultural” groups,
can get away with practically any kind of behaviour. People walk on eggshells
to be as politically correct as possible so as not to offend students,
teachers, or administrators in these groups.

This is still quoting from “Carol's

Could it be that some bullying is a
result of sheer frustration on the part of the “ordinary” student, who sees
that certain students are favoured?

Unbelievable. This group, REAL
Women, seems to be saying that bullying could, in fact, be a justified response
from some people. 
Does the leader not agree that those
statements are pretty outrageous?

Honourable senators, if I had to
get up and respond, which I cannot do and am in no position to do on behalf of
the government, to every column that has been written with people's points of
view, I would never be able to sit down. 
This has nothing to do with the
government. This has nothing to do with anything that I am involved
with. Whether we agree or disagree 
in this case, I have not read the
article, but I am personally inclined to disagree 
is not the issue. The issue is that people are free to speak
their minds, and whether we agree or disagree with them is our prerogative. 
I cannot get up as Leader of the
Government in the Senate and answer for every column that every person on
behalf of whatever group in the country has written. Honourable senators
would not expect me to be able to, nor would I want to.

When the governor general was asked
about the list of groups asked to nominate people, he said it was not his list;
it was a list put together by the government. REAL Women being on that
list comes from the government. 
Could the Leader of the Government in the
Senate tell us, then, why there are no groups that are responsible for
promoting gay rights on the list of those who are able to nominate Canadians
for Diamond Jubilee medals?

First, honourable senators, this
does not fall within my responsibility as Leader of the Government in the
Senate. I do not know who is on the list. I do not know which
organizations are on the list. I have personal friends who belong to
Egale. I will probably nominate a couple of them myself when I submit my
list, but that is my own personal decision. I cannot answer for something
I know nothing about.

Supplementary. In the new
definition of accepted charities that the government is working on, will groups
like REAL Women who put down young gay people still be able to maintain their
charitable status and meddle in the public policy debate on that important

That question is out of order
because I am in no position to answer on behalf of any organization, whether it
is Egale, REAL Women or whoever.  

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