Men's Educational Support Association (MESA)


February 8, 1999

Men's group announces victory against gender discrimination
Ontario Attorney General Withdraws Biased Booklets

After numerous complaints, the Attorney General of Ontario has withdrawn two booklets published by his department and distributed in Ontario courthouses. The booklets contained biased gender stereotypes.

The Attorney General's Department published the booklets entitled "Your Day In Court" and "Crimes, Courts & Consequences", characterize men as violent and women as victims. This characterization led to two formal complaints by MESA, the Men's Educational Support Association. The complaints elicited no response, until the involvement of the Ontario Ombudsman's office. The Ombudsman recommended filing a formal complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Commission. Mr.Charles Harnick, Attorney General finally responded and withdrew the booklets. He promised to avoid this kind of discrimination in future publications.

"MESA thanks Mr. Harnick for his cooperation and is content with the outcome" said Gus Sleiman, President of MESA. "We invite all people to work towards a society free of gender bias."

MESA (403) 228-6366

Letter of the Attorney General

Ministry of the Attorney General
Public Education and Community Relations Branch

720 Bay Street
Main Floor
Toronto, Ontario, M5G 2K1

Tel: (416) 326-2200
Fax: (416) 326-4007

January 20, 1999

Mr. Gus Sleiman
Men's Educational Support Association
Box 4691 Station "C"
Calgary, Alberta T2T 5P1

Dear Mr. Sleiman

On behalf of the Honorable Charles Harnick, Attorney General of Ontario, I have been asked to respond to your e-mail received through the Ministry of the Attorney General Web Site address on August 14, 1998 and your letter of August 14, 1998, regarding our Ministry's booklets- Your Day In Court and Crimes Courts & Consequences. I am very sorry for the delay of this reply.

Thank you for the concerns you raise regarding gender reference in these two booklets. I sincerely appreciate your drawing the oversight to our Ministry's attention. Upon investigation, we have learned that these two publications are no longer being printed and that there are approximately 1,500 booklets in stock in the Ontario Publications Bookstore. By copy of this letter we will immediately instruct the Ontario Publications bookstore to remove these booklets from their inventory. In addition, we will also ensure your correspondence is referenced accordingly to avoid error, should the Ministry consider publishing the two booklets in the future.

Again, thank you for bringing this important matter to our attention and I trust that I have been of some help at such a late date.

Yours truly,

Sheila McDermott
Minister's Correspondence Unit

Cc: Glen Oliver, Inventory Expeditor, Ontario Publications Bookstore

Letter to Attorney General

Men's Educational Support Association (MESA)

August 14, 1998

The Honorable Charles A. Harnick (Attorney General)
Ministry of the Attorney General
11 Floor, 720 Bay Street
Toronto, Ontario, M5G 2K1

Subject: Gender Discrimination against Men

Re: "Your Day in Court" and "Crimes, Courts & Consequences" Booklets.

Dear Mr. Harnick;

MESA is an organization devoted to helping out families and fathers in domestic crisis. MESA deals with issues of domestic violence and we believe that abuse is a human issue, not a gender issue.

It is with disappointment and regret that we find the Government of Ontario, through the Ministry of the Attorney General is promoting discrimination and bias against men based solely on their gender.

The booklets state:

a) "Your Day in Court"

Family Law and You - What Happens If He Beats Me ...

* "Assaulting a wife or female partner is against the law. A man who assaults his partner can be arrested, charged and jailed."

* "Women's shelters can help: Call 411 for the Wife Assault Hotline. They'll put you in touch with women's shelters where you can stay safely, with your children. They can also put you in touch with people who can help you on a long term basis."

* "You can get a restraining order: The court can issue an order which will make it an offence for which a man can be jailed if he harasses, intimidates, molests or annoys his spouse or partner. You can also apply for exclusive possession of the family home if past violence has made you fear further harm to you or the children."

b) "Crimes Courts & Consequences"

* "Battered wives Need Help To Help Themselves"

"Assault on anyone, including a wife or female partner, is against the law. A man who assaults his partner can be arrested, charged and jailed.

"Too often, a woman is afraid to even try and get help or doesn't know that help is available. In the meantime, the woman isn't the only victim. It has been proven over and over that children who see this kind of violence and abuse always suffer serious short- and long-term effects." ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Mr. Harnick, have you ever heard of the "Battered Man Syndrome"?

These gender specific phrases are directed against men. This labeling of men as abusers and women beaters is clearly discrimination and promotes bias. This bias promotes gender hatred, shortsighted and irresponsible stereotyping against men. These gender specific phrases portray men as abusers and perpetrators of violence and never acknowledges that women can, and do also commit these acts.

The children are also over-identified as an attachment to the woman, neglecting their dependence and need of their father, the man.

Nowhere in this booklet is there advice as to how or where a man may obtain assistance, it focuses on services to assist women and neglects men, implying men cannot be victims, therefore do not need help.

The Ministry of the Attorney General published the booklets "Your Day in Court" and "Crimes Courts & Consequences " speak of the Guaranteed Rights and Freedoms.

"The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees certain legal rights to EVERYONE in Canada."

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms states under, Section: 15. (1)

"Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, color, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability."

March 23, 1998 /CNW/ Mr. Harnick "All Ontarians have a right to live free of the fear of physical abuse - especially in their own home."

The right to live free of physical, emotional and financial abuse INCLUDES MEN.

Discrimination by the Ministry of the Attorney General against one class (Men) of Ontario Residents and Canadian citizens in general is unacceptable and directly violates the Charter.

The Men's Educational Support Association vehemently objects to the use and deployment of this discrimination in any and all government publications and applications. The role of Government is to ensure equality for all of its citizens and protect them from exactly what Your Government has done.

* MESA requires an immediate removal of any and all Government literature containing discrimination against Men.

* MESA requires the changing of all wording in any future Government publications to be gender neutral.

* MESA requires information for men as well as for women on where they may go to receive assistance in dealing with these matters.

* MESA requests an apology on behalf of all men and women to be publicized through all media avenues.

Respectfully submitted

Gus Sleiman (President)

Cc: The Honorable Michael D. Harris (Premier of Ontario)
The Honorable Senator Anne Cools
Globe and Mail
Toronto Star
Toronto Sun
Calgary Herald
Alberta Report

"Preserving the integrity of Fatherhood for the sake of the children"

P.O. Box 4691 Station "C", Calgary, Alberta, T2T 5P1

______________ ______________

"Preserving the integrity of Fatherhood for the sake of the children"

Men's Educational Support Association (MESA)
P.O.Box 4691 Station "C", Calgary, Alberta, T2T 5P1