Toronto Sun

Tuesday, October 2, 2001

Out of the Fry-pan ...

Minister slammed for sitting through anti-U.S. remarks at conference

By STEPHANIE RUBEC, OTTAWA BUREAU
Toronto Sun

OTTAWA -- Multiculturalism Minister Hedy Fry was lambasted yesterday by opposition MPs, who accused her of failing to condemn anti-American sentiment during a women's conference.

Fry came under attack in the Commons after attending a morning conference at which participants were told that U.S. foreign policy is "soaked in blood."

"There will be no emancipation for women anywhere on this planet until the Western domination of this planet is ended," said Sunera Thobani, former president of the National Action Committee on the Status of Women.

'SOAKED IN BLOOD'

"From Chile to El Salvador to Nicaragua to Iraq, the path of U.S. foreign policy is soaked in blood," Thobani told about 500 delegates at the Women's Resistance Conference.

Fry denied supporting Thobani's statement.

"I did not applaud it," she said. "I got up and left immediately following it."

Tory Leader Joe Clark called on Prime Minister Jean Chretien to kick Fry out of his cabinet for failing to protest the anti-American speech by immediately walking out.

"She's a continuing, running embarrassment to the government of Canada and to the country," Clark said.

"I would hope the prime minister would put someone in that senior position who shows better judgment than Hedy Fry has on repeated occasions."

Canadian Alliance Leader Stockwell Day echoed Clark's demand that Fry be stripped of her portfolio.

"For a minister of the Crown to sit on that stage and not disavow those (comments) was equally horrendous," Day said.

Foreign Affairs Minister John Manley reasoned that Fry couldn't have taken over the podium to condemn Thobani during her speech.

"I think that her response in the House made it clear that she didn't share those views," he said.

During the conference, Fry encouraged women to speak out against inequality.

'RADICAL FEMINISTS'

"I can read what is going to be said about this conference: A bunch of radical feminists got together and they started to diss everyone," she told delegates.

Supreme Court Justice Louise Arbour, a speaker at the conference, was quizzed by Thobani about U.S. actions since the terrorist attacks.

Arbour -- the former chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal at the Hague --said she couldn't comment because of her position, but added: "It's a bit early in an extremely complex process of major conflict resolution to judge the aims and the means by which these aims will be pursued. If we know something in a criminal justice context, it's the need to pass judgment in a very sober fashion after all the evidence is in."

Copyright © 2001, Canoe Limited Partnership.