June 10, 1999
Tell NAC the well's run dryBy MICHAEL COREN
Give us your money or we'll attack you. This seems to be the attitude of the women who lead the National Action Committee on the Status of Women. They're meeting in Ottawa, threatening to protest and picket unless the government gives them what they refer to as "one enormous cheque."
That cheque, of course, will come from your tax dollars.
NAC has been given millions of dollars by the federal government over the years and just recently was given another $28l,000. The organization employs seven people, and manages to spend the lion's share of its budget on salaries and staff. The bulk of NAC's money, as always, comes not from donations by concerned supporters but from the largesse of civil servants and ministers.
NAC's story is rather like that of the emperor's new clothes. The women at NAC claim to be well dressed but in fact they're completely naked.
The increasingly isolated organization has boasted a membership of hundreds of thousands. Not true. Because some organizations affiliate en masse it means that people suddenly became NAC members when they might despise everything NAC represents.
The YWCA has been a member, meaning that if a woman goes for a swim a couple of times a week she is suddenly a committed supporter of abortion on demand, lesbian adoption and the compulsory wearing of Birkenstocks.
Unions join as single lumps. So a woman who perhaps votes Tory and thinks men are usually nice guys helps to finance NAC's silly and often hateful vision of a gender war. Ridiculous as it might seem, this matters.
Because of NAC's ability to pretend it speaks for Canadian women, various governments have directed legislation and money along paths dictated by a handful of zealots. The lives of Canadian women and Ottawa's responses have been based on a vision seen through the smeared prism of a radical feminist ideology that is no longer backed even by mainstream feminists, let alone mainstream women.
That is changing because fiscal conservatism is in fashion, and because there are no longer any vocal supporters of NAC in cabinet. Thus the squeals from the ranks of the apparently dispossessed.
NAC wants your money. And it wants it now. Why? Well, to continue what it calls "a major political struggle and revolution" against "racism, sexism, homophobia, ableism, ageism and classism." It also wants it to help the struggle of Marxist terrorists in Colombia and to help bring "about a just and peaceful resolution to world conflicts."
Okay. You can also fight for the rights of UFO aliens stranded in Nevada and universal health care for hamsters for all I care, but do it with your own cash. The neurosis of government dependency has to be cured. It's time to cut the apron strings and make it in the big world. Organizations such as REAL Women, a conservative pro-life and pro-family group, have survived and prospered without enormous injections of government money.
NAC has also suffered from the rule of diminishing leaders. Today's leader, Joan Grant-Cummings, has little profile and has not managed to win many friends in high places. Her somewhat strident predecessor was similarly deficient. The most successful leader of NAC was Judy Rebick, a politician who has since demonstrated her abilities on television and radio. Though, it has to be said, mainly on publicly funded television and radio.
Judy, however, was able to present a veneer of importance for NAC and also managed to convince at least some women the organization was relevant to them. Those attempts seem to have been abandoned by more recent leaders, who at times appear almost contemptuous of women who do not accept "the line."
NAC leaders just don't seem to understand, for example, that the plight of what they call "sex-trade workers" is not the major priority of a woman working in an office or a stay-at-home mother. They have failed to grasp the fact that gender is only one issue in a highly complex equation. They still fight wars won long ago or launch battles for imaginary or unworthy causes.
Women of the world unite. You have nothing to lose but your grant applications. Move on, comrades, and get a job.
Michael Coren is a Toronto-based writer and broadcaster
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