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April 28, 2001

Backbencher calls Fry a 'Burning Cross Lady' with anti-male views

To make remarks in family law speech

Jane Taber
National Post

(Roger) Gallaway

(Hedy) Fry

OTTAWA - A frustrated Liberal backbencher plans to ridicule Hedy Fry, the Secretary of State for the Status of Women, calling her the "Burning Cross Lady" over her "perverse" concept of the family that he says is anti-male.

Roger Gallaway, the MP for Sarnia-Lambton, is to make the blunt characterization of his government's Cabinet minister in a speech today to Ottawa grandparents rights groups, according to a copy of the speech obtained by the National Post.

The "Burning Cross Lady" is a reference to the controversy Ms. Fry created in March when she falsely accused residents of Prince George, B.C., of being racists, telling the House of Commons: "Crosses are burning on lawns as we speak." She was forced to apologize.

The focus of Mr. Gallaway's speech is the work he did as the co-chairman of a joint Commons-Senate committee that studied child access and custody issues. The committee's report, titled For the Sake of the Children, recommended changes to the Divorce Act, requiring judges to automatically give both parents the legal right to bring up their children. This would be called "shared parenting."

The report, tabled in the House of Commons in December, 1998, has all but been ignored by Ms. Fry, and Anne McLellan, the Minister of Justice, Mr. Gallaway says in the prepared text.

He blames an "institutional adherence to political correctness" that has the government refusing to admit that women can be just as violent as men. "We must reject Ms. Fry's concept that, because of conflict, children should be reared only by one parent and know one family," he says. "Her concept of family and family relationships is perverse."

Mr. Gallaway says Ms. Fry's view, and that of many others involved in family law, is that the child should stay with the mother. He accuses the junior Cabinet minister of being anti-male.

"I would also say to you that her philosophy of violence and abuse being overwhelmingly a men's trait is, in the face of all the evidence, in itself discriminatory in that it leads to contempt for one group -- men -- something she is alleged to abhor," the speech says.

Six months after the report was released, Ms. McLellan responded by calling for even more study. Several weeks ago, the Justice Department sent out consultation booklets, a move that has angered Mr. Gallaway.

Indeed, in his speech he accuses Ms. McLellan of putting out a "complicated and amateurish consultation paper which limits your chance to respond and raises the spectre of violence ..."

Mr. Gallaway urges members of the grandparents groups and others to "flood her department with your responses" because he believes the results could be easily skewed by the department.

"I find it interesting in this era of talk of the role of Parliament that a minister or department can move so slowly in response to a problem that is so huge, while being able to move quickly on issues such as Internet stalking of children," he says.

"I am in no way saying this is not important, I simply question why one file goes quickly while another drags.

"The reason, I would suggest, is an institutional adherence to political correctness."

Mr. Gallaway says that he has been searching for more than three years "for an explanation to the fundamental question: How have we gotten to this point? - this point where children, often by court order, in effect can be sent down a road of having contact with one side of their family and never knowing the other side of that family."

He argues that Canadian society now regards it as "healthy" that "a child should be raised by one parent and exclude the other and other's family ...

"I would say to you quite the opposite is the truth."

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