National Post

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Saturday, December 11, 1999

REALWomen delegate frozen out at conference
Kelly Cryderman
Southam News

OTTAWA - A lone REALWomen delegate says she was discriminated against at a federally sponsored women's conference where her group's presence was likened, by one participant, to having a "white-supremacist" organization at a meeting on racial equality.

Cecilia Forsyth, the REALWomen delegate under fire, said she felt ostracized, especially for the first two days of the Consultation on Gender Equality hosted by Canada's Status of Women department.

Some delegates asked that her invitation be withdrawn, she was asked to leave a meeting, and her mere presence disrupted workshop proceedings.

She spent all her coffee and lunch breaks alone, no one would sit beside her and she was booed. Ms. Forsyth said all she wants is to present her "moderate conservative" viewpoints at the table.

"It would have been very easy to turn and walk away and say 'to hell with you, I don't need this in my life.' But I'm not going to be intimidated by the radical feminists," Ms. Forsyth said. "They have a viewpoint, I can respect that, and I have a viewpoint. I think my viewpoint should be heard as much as theirs. We don't have to agree."

Delegate Shelagh Day said REALWomen have no place at the conference.

"They endorse a subordinate status for women," added Ms. Day, a special advisor on human rights to the National Association of Women and the Law. "It's like inviting a white-supremacist organization" to a meeting to address discrimination against minorities, she said.

The four-day government consultation on gender equality issues, being held in Aylmer, Que., concludes today.

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