Saturday, March 9, 2013

Joyce Arthur's Pro-Can grant: an investigation, II

(This is the second part of an analysis done on Joyce Arthur's "Exposing Crisis Pregnancy centres" published in the January/February 2013 LifeCanada Journal. Part one was published in the November/December 2012 LifeCanada Journal.)

Fourth. In the paperwork I received from the access request, I noticed that the word "Exposing" was used interchangeably with the word "Examining".

On three of the documents in the package, the title of the report say "Exposing Crisis Pregnancy Centres" (the 10 page funding proposal, the letter from the Minister Liza Frulla congratulating Ms. Arthur on her grant, and in an email from Ms. Arthur to SWC).

On four documents, the title reads "Examining Crisis Pregnancy Centres" (the signed agreement, a follow up letter from the program office right after Ms. Frulla's letter, SWC's final report, SWC's "closeout assessment").

The word "Examining" is a far more innocuous word than "Exposing". (The final published report was also called "Exposing Crisis Pregnancy Centres".)

When I asked SWC about this discrepancy, they had no explanation. So what was going on here? As the request for funding weaved its way through the process, is it possible that SWC thought they were agreeing to a much less scandalous document that what in fact was finally produced?

Fifth. Pro-Can never publicly acknowledged the funding they received, which was a condition of receiving funding. Joyce Arthur clearly signs the following declaration in the "Application":
"I am authorized by the organization to sign this application. I am taking responsibility to ensure that the organization agrees to the following declaration and undertaking...The organization agrees to publicly acknowledge any financial or other assistance provided by SWC".

When I questioned SWC on this, their response was:
“It is true that there is no mention of SWC as the funder for this initiative in the Research Report on the website. However, a note on the website states that as of January 31, 2009, “the Pro-Choice Action Network has ceased operations except for our website”, so we will not be following up with them.” (5)

Pro-Can apparently ceased operations the same month the report was released. Even though Pro-Can had supposedly ceased operations, their web-site, which includes the report, is still very much active, and is still very much active even today. And SWC, by their own admission, did nothing to insist that Pro-Can adhere to the promise they made to publicly acknowledge funding from SWC.

Sixth. In SWC's "Recommendation for Approval" under "If Applicable, how does this initiative link to government wide priorities and international commitments" is the following very disturbing rationale for the report:
"As stated by the Supreme Court of Canada in R. V. Morgentaler (1988), under section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, women have the right to therapeutic abortions but when crisis pregnancy centres disseminate misinformation to pregnant women, they in effect circumscribe women's full Charter rights. Through this initiative, the government of Canada is fulfilling its court ascribed duty to ensure women have full reproductive choice by informing the public of the diversity of perspectives on abortion."
(It is unclear who wrote this paragraph. The document itself was signed by SWC.)

The Morgentaler ruling only struck down the existing abortion law for procedural reasons; it never recognized a "Charter right" to abortion. There was no “court ascribed duty” for the government of Canada to “ensure women have full reproductive choice.” In fact, the court made it clear that the government had an interest in the protection of the fetus and that it was up to Parliament to bring forward a new law that would balance the interests of both mother and child.

And finally, here is the congratulatory letter from Minister of Canadian; Heritage and Minister responsible for Status of Women, Liza Frulla.

"Dear Ms. Arthur;

I am pleased to inform you that I have approved a grant in the amount of $27,400 from the Women's Program for your initiative "Exposing Crisis Pregnancy Centres." A cheque in the amount of $25,400, which represents the first payment of this funding, is enclosed.

As Minister responsible for Status of Women, I know that the Women's Program plays a vital role in supporting the work of women's and other equality-seeking organizations to remove barriers to women's full participation in Canadian, society. I recognize the critical part that organizations such as yours play in achieving this goal.

Indeed, it 's only by working together, by forming partnerships between this government and equality-seeking groups working at the local, provincial and national levels, that we will realize our shared goal of gender equality. I welcome the opportunity to support your group's role in this collaborative process.

I am confident that the results achieved through your initiative will help us demonstrate the progress we are making in advancing women's equality in our society.

In closing, I would like to congratulate you, the members of your organization and all the volunteers who will assist you in undertaking this initiative. Best wishes for continued success n your endeavours.

Liza Frulla, P.C., M.P."

This report should never have been written. The fact that it was also funded by tax payers, should never have been allowed to happen.

(1) Access to Information request received from status of Women Canada (SWC) in 2009
(5) Email correspondence with SWC in 2010

Here is a list of the different documents I received, all of which formed the packaged released under the ATIP:
a) "Application" signed by Joyce Arthur. Nine pages, plus a ten page Project Funding Proposal (used "Exposing Crisis Pregnancy Centres") and four other pages of information
b) An email from SWC to Joyce Arthur
c) "Recommendation for Approval" (nine pages signed by SWC)
d) Letter from Minister Frulla to Joyce Arthur (used "Exposing Crisis Pregnancy Centres")
e) Letter from SWC to Joyce Arthur, as a follow up to the Minister's letter (used "Examining Crisis Pregnancy Centres")
f) "Approved Budget Expenditures"
g) Two page contract detailing project, signed by Joyce Arthur (used "Examining Crisis Pregnancy Centres")
h) email from Joyce Arthur to SWC (used "Exposing Crisis Pregnancy Centres"

i) "Final report" six pages signed by Joyce Arthur (used "Examining Crisis Pregnancy Centres")
j) "Closeout assessment" six pages Signed by SWC (used "Examining Crisis Pregnancy Centres")

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