Friday, April 6, 2012

What you can do about the anti-choice Motion 312?

You've probably heard of it by now. M-312, the motion by Conservative MP Stephen Woodworth that could rob us uterus-havers of our right to bodily autonomy, will be debated in Parliament on April 26th.

This motion calls for the appointment of a special committee, made up mostly of Conservative MPs, that would decide whether a fetus is a human being at any point before birth after examining the relevant medical evidence, and recommend changes to the Criminal Code based on their conclusion. As the astute reader will have noticed, this would leave our right to safe, legal abortion wide open to attack - and this is what Mr. Woodworth wants. Don't let his public focus on third trimester fetuses fool you, he is the "personhood from fertilization" type, and he wants to make his beliefs law - just look at his records according to this anti-choice website.

For more information, read the motion itself, Joyce Arthur's excellent piece on why it is unnecessary and dangerous, and check out the debate between she and Woodworth hosted by the Huffington post (don't forget to vote on it!). Bonus: some horrifying examples of what can happen when the law views pregnant people and their fetuses as separate entities, courtesy of the ACLU (trigger warning for forced c-sections).

Now that you're all brushed up on the issue, what can you do to stop this mess? First off, you can get your MP's email address and write to them. ARCC has two different sample letters you can borrow. Next, you can sign ARCC's petition.

Can you knit, crochet or sew? Why not join this group and help provide our MPs with cuddly plush uteruses?

Are you able to print postcards? ARCC's got some lovely ones for Mr. Harper and the MPs.

Finally, you can stay in loop by following the Radical Handmaids in their various social media ventures, and by keeping an eye on ARCC's action alert page for the motion (which contains nearly all of the links I've provided here - credit goes to ARCC for doing the leg work of finding them).


Il y a une version française pour un des exemples de lettres aux MPs et pour la pièce de Joyce Arthur expliquant pourquoi m-312 n'est pas nécessaire et est dangereuse.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

and Ottawa reacts!!!

Mayor Jim Watson's apparently anti-choice proclamation came onto our radar tonight.

It seemed odd. So we googled... The people below explain it best. Below, a few fantastic responses to this debocle. We couldn't have said it better ourselves.

Ashley Hunkin's letter: 

I have lived in Ottawa for over a decade. Every year I am disgusted to see a troupe of teenagers shipped in for a tax subsidized tour of Ottawa for educational purposes, which is an elaborate loophole allowing anti-choice organizers to pad their numbers at the March for Life. Its frustrating to see my money wasted on such a blatant political hysterics, but its never really worried me too much. Even with the padding their numbers are only 12 000, and frankly it doesn't matter. Whatever Canadians think about abortion over and over and over again they have endorsed and supported a woman's right to choose in the case of unwanted pregnancy. The majority of Canadians support a womans right to choose in the same way that they support access to public health care.

They support it for two simple reasons.

Firstly, most of them remember a time in our country when morgues were flooded with the bodies of desperate women who died needlessly as a result of abortion being criminalized. When it was criminalized women died, every single day, needlessly. Real women, not 3 weeks worth of tissue fed and growing inside a womans body. Women, like real live people who had families, histories, and were woven into the fabric of our community.

Secondly, because Canadians recognize that forcing a woman to bear your child is a bit archaic.... not to mention barbaric. Perhaps because the majority of Canadian women will experience some form of gender violence in their lives. And with such a high percentage of Canadians, and such a high percentage of Ottawa citizens knowing on a visceral level what its like to have someone else dictate what happens to our bodies..... well. it gets a little personal.

 No one has the right to dictate what happens to our bodies. Not even a "baby" if you want to throw science out the window and misname an embryo or fetus a "baby". The idea that anyone should have the right to use my sexual and reproductive organs without my consent.... what kind of creep would support that. If I was dying of kidney failure (its possible, as I have a chronic illness likely to lead to kidney failure) I don't have the right to force you to give me a kidney..... even if it will save my life. I don't have the right to force you, with all the power of the state, to compromise your bodily integrity even if it might save my life. Anything else would be insane wouldn't it? We have the right to decide, and should I even be in that scenario I would recognize the GIFT of life implicit in the VOLUNTARY decision of a friend, parent, or other family member to give me a kidney.

I've never had an abortion, but the issue has alot of meaning in my life. I was lucky enough to grow up in a country where it was decriminalized. I was lucky enough to live in downtown Toronto where we had access. It meant that when my teenage friend was sexually assaulted and we were all terrified we had people to turn to, and she wasn't forced to raise a fetus in the bruised and battered organs violated by her rapist. She was able to make a decision about what to do with her body, and having that right was one of the most healing things to happen to her in that time. I've got countless other stories. Friends who were the first to go on to post secondary education who were on the pill but still got pregnant, but decided to terminate so they could finish their education. Your salary is now paid by the taxes that they can pay now that they have the job that goes with their Masters degrees. Or how bout my friend who recently had a beautiful gorgeous baby that she was ready for, and excited for, and had a network of support for. Ask her how amazingly strong and powerful she felt when she brought that baby into the world giving him the gift of life. Ask her how she felt as a 16 year old when she got knocked up because she was never taught how to use a condom in her school (it might encourage the kids to have sex you know).

Having all these experiences makes it a no brainer for me to support my right to choose when and how I have a baby. Which is why when I was a coordinator of the Womyns Centre at Carleton I was ready to defend and make explicit our discrimination policy so that no student funds could go to promote an anti-choice message that seeks to strip women's charter right to equality.

 I was 21 at the time. (how old are you?) I and my colleagues then experienced a barrage of hate from across the country from "life loving" people. We were told that our political futures were finished. We were told that our student's association would be bankrupted by the tidal wave of law suits headed our way. We were also told we would be sexually assaulted, that we deserved to die, and that they knew were we lived. Some of us were listed in blog posts about the top feminists in Canada who must be killed. And as Dr Tiller, and victims of countless clinic bombings across North America would attest to if they were still alive a death threat from the anti-choice movement is no joke. Despite this we hung on and stayed the course, mobilizing thousands of students in support, receiving endorsements from any number of on and off campus groups. We did so because simply put it was the right thing to do, and frankly the majority of our constituents supported the motion. Less then 3 months later our executive slate ran with three of the most recognizable faces of that pro-choice campaign. We ran against a slate of anti-choicers who ran a campaign based on the concept that we were evil baby killing demons. What do you know.... all of us swept through that election. All of us won by a landslide. The majority of our constituents supported us, and the violent bleating and chest beating of the anti-choice movement turned out to be simply a very loud opinion of a very extreme minority of our constituents.

Remember that the next time a tiny minority of people in North America come knocking on your door asking you to endorse something the majority of your constituents disagree with. Remember that the majority of people who come to the March for Life aren't there for the March, they are there because its time off school and they get to shop at the Rideau Centre. Remember that almost all of the people at the March for Life aren't voting in the next mayors race in Ottawa... they are voting for mayors in towns far away.

I'll be voting in the next election, and I can safely say that not only have you lost my vote, you have emboldened me to spend the rest of your term mobilizing voters to vote for anyone but you. And Mr. Watson....... the last time I took anti-choicers on in an election it didn't go so well for them.

Ashley Hunkin
Carleton Womyns Centre Coordinator 2006/2007
CUSA Vice President Student Services 2007/2008
Co-Founder of the Pro-Choice Coalition of Ottawa 2008
Vote Anybody but Watson Campaign Organizer May 2011 and ongoing.

(Come out Thursday to the annual day of opposition of the March for Life, consider Mr Watson's decision to endorse their campaign as a test balloon for future motions on Parliament Hill to criminalize abortion)


Dillon Black comments:

dear mayor jim watson, as a gay white privileged dude, to what extent are you willing to do this on the backs of others? women, and trans* folk who need reproductive justice and rights to abortion, who when faced with an intersectionality of oppressions: being racialized, low-income, indigenous, gender variant, living with disabilities etc. face greater barriers to accessing these services. pro-choice or no choice!


Mayor Jim Watson
c.c.: Cathy Bowles, Chief of Protocol; Lindsay Doyle, A/Protocol Advisor, Office of Protocol

Dear Mayor Watson, Ms. Bowles, and Ms. Doyle,

I am writing with regard to the decision made by the City of Ottawa to proclaim May 12, 2011 as "Respect for Life Day" in recognition of the upcoming March for Life Event.  As a resident of Ottawa, I am very troubled by this proclamation, which is being hailed by pro-life groups as an endorsement of their cause.

I appreciate the fact that the proclamation is not an endorsement by the City of Ottawa or by Mayor Watson. Nevertheless, although Mayor Watson and his spokesman have stated that any request for a proclamation will be honoured if it does not violate the Ontario Human Rights Code, the City of Ottawa's formal policy has additional requirements that must be considered.  The City of Ottawa's proclamation policy states that:

A proclamation will not be issued if the undertakings or philosophy of the group or individual, or the organization they represent are:
  • Contrary to the City of Ottawa's policies or bylaws;
  • Discriminatory;
  • Espousing hatred, violence or racism;
  • Illegal;
  • Not located within the boundaries of the City of Ottawa;
  • Politically or religiously motivated; or
  • Intended for profit-making purposes.

The March for Life is wholly organized by the Campaign Life Coalition, which describes itself as a "pro-life ministry."  It is an avowedly religious group with an overt political mandate - to end access to legal abortions in Canada.  In furtherance of that goal, the Campaign Life Coalition seeks the election of pro-life MPs (and published a list of pro-life and "pro-death" candidates for reference during the recent federal election) and recommends the adoption of incremental anti-choice legislation designed to (among other things):

  • Eliminate publicly-funded abortions; 
  • Recognize the "person-hood" of human beings from the moment of conception;
  • Require women to be shown ultrasounds of their unborn fetus before an abortion can be scheduled;
  • Require parental notification for women under 18 seeking abortions;
  • Require spousal notification for adult women seeking abortions; and 
  • "Restore" Canada's legal definition of marriage to being exclusively between one man and one woman.   
The Campaign Life Coalition provides information to pastors on how to engage in political activity during elections, and offers free, pre-written pro-life sermons and homilies to pastors and priests. Additionally, the Campaign Life Coalition regards Canadian judges who interpret the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in a manner that conflicts with its viewpoints on abortion and homosexuality as being activists who have illegitimately usurped the legislative power of government.  This information is all publicly available on the Campaign Life Coalition's website, at

The March for Life itself is also an overtly religious event. The day before the March for Life includes a pro-life prayer service, a pro-life Mass, and an all-night Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament at the St. Patrick Basilica. The day of the March itself includes a Protestant prayer service, an interdenominational prayer service, three Catholic Masses, speeches by religious leaders and Catholic bishops, and a closing prayer ceremony.  The sole goal of the March for Life is to express support for the pro-life cause and to call on Parliament to enact pro-life legislation.  While engaging in such activity and speech is certainly the right of any Canadian, it is a divisive political issue whose advocates seek to override fundamental liberties recognized by the courts and by provincial and federal legislatures for many years.

In light of all of this, issuing a proclamation in recognition of the March for Life and declaring a "Respect for Life Day" appears to violate the City of Ottawa's own policy. Accordingly, I do not believe it should have been issued.  It is likely too late to rescind this proclamation, but I urge the City of Ottawa, and the Mayor, to consider the overtly political and religious nature of the Campaign Life Coalition and the March for Life should further applications for proclamations be received.

Finally, I would ask that the city consider reviewing this policy, and examine whether or not proclamations should be issued at all.  Given that proclamations are not an endorsement by the City of Ottawa or the Mayor, their function is limited. Their recipients nevertheless, treat such proclamations as moral victories. As the Ottawa Citizen notes in an article dated May 10, 2011, "[t]he proclamation has been enthusiastically received by the demonstrators planning Thursday’s march."

If the City of Ottawa continues to issue proclamations, however, the proclamation policy should clearly define what does and does not constitute politically and religiously motivated philosophies for the group, individual, or organization requesting the proclamation.  This would provide officials within the Office of Protocol clear guidance with respect to future requests, as well as providing concerned citizens with more information as to how such requests are assessed.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.


Robert Fairchild


Mayor Watson,

I have seen in several papers that your office approved the designation of a second pro-life/anti-choice day in Ottawa this year.

Second to that I saw your twitter posts that claim you are yourself pro-life and anti-choice. I am writing this to tell you that I am disgusted that I have voted for someone who is anti-women'...s rights and I hope there is some major mistake. I would like to invite you to stand on the side of justice on Thursday and stand with the women and allies and reject the attack on the bodies of women. Stand on the side of women's autonomy and their right to choose. Please do not make Ottawa regret voting for someone after such a short time. Men of quality respect women's right to choose, I am asking you to stand up and be a man of quality and integrity on Thursday, and stand up for women's human rights..


Ron Couchman

President of Men for Equality and Non-Violence
*********************** Donnie Northrup's blog post

My Life in Letters


Dear Jim Watson,

I am writing to you today to express my deep, deep sense of outrage over your decision to call May 12th a “Respect for Life” day. Why the pompous title, “Respect for Life”? I find the message itself extremely belittling and demeaning to women. It somehow implies that individuals like myself, who are strongly pro-choice, are not respecting life. This, of course, is ludicrous and very far from the case. I do value life very much, and I also strongly believe that if anything can be done to help a woman carry her child to term (affordable childcare, help with basic items such as clothing and food, a place in daycare) and thus, to reduce the number of abortions, then all means let’s go for it, as much as we can. But the ultimate choice belongs to the woman alone. Always. Not to the government. Not to churches and self-righteous clergymen (because they are almost never women). Not to politicians. Even in the best scenarios there will always be times when a woman strongly feels that an abortion is the only valid choice for her. It’s her mind, it’s her body, it’s her choice. I cannot honestly judge that woman. And neither should you, Mr. Watson, or anyone else.

The message itself is also demeaning, in ways that are unacceptable in our civilized society. It strongly implies that women are childish, frivolous, and that they have not considered all the options before choosing to have an abortion. It is implying that ALL women who chose to end a pregnancy were careless. I sure hope that I do not have to tell you that such is far from the case. These so-called “Respect for Life” masquerades are, also, misleading for other reasons. What life, exactly, are we talking about here? What good can emerge from such rhetoric as “respect” for fetal life at all costs, regardless of circumstances? What do restrictions on abortion mean, concretely, for real women, living in today’s world, who will have to care for this child, putting an emotional, financial burden on them and, in some cases, thwarting in very real ways their right to a bright future? Teenagers who become mothers have grim prospects for the future. They are much more likely to leave school, receive inadequate prenatal care, and rely on public assistance to raise a child, develop health problems, or end up divorced.

To conclude, I’d like to provide some facts about abortions. The first point will put abortions in perspective. 80-90% of abortions are done in the 1st trimester. At this stage in life, the fetus cannot possibly be called a “human being.” I don’t know if you are aware of how a fetus looks like, at 2-3 months, but I have actually taken the time to have a look at pictures. And I don’t think what I saw should have more rights than I do. At that stage, a fetus cannot exist independent of the mother. The human fetus is indistinguishable from many other creatures, including fish. As it is attached by the placenta and umbilical cord, its health is dependent on the mothers’ health, and cannot be regarded as a separate entity as it cannot exist outside her womb. And even at a later stage, some very good reasons, medical or otherwise, might very well completely and entirely justify an abortion.

Furthermore, to prohibit abortions does not stop them. When women feel it is absolutely necessary, they will choose to have abortions--even in secret, without medical care, in dangerous circumstances. In the two decades before abortion was legal in the U.S., it's been estimated that nearly 1 million women per year sought out illegal abortions. Thousands died. Tens of thousands were mutilated. All were forced to behave as if they were criminals.

You also mention the rights of “all people” but a fetus is not a person or a people. It cannot, it should not, enjoy more rights than a grown up woman. On that note, I also find the “March for ‘Life’” theme misleading: “Abortion kills a human being.” No. It does not. Abortion ends a pregnancy. What is in a woman’s womb is not a human being: it is a fetus until, at the very, very least, the point of viability (which is not before 24 weeks). Before that time, right-wing anti-choice religious leaders have no say in the decision that a woman makes about a pregnancy. A decision which, I would like to remind you, is NEVER an easy one.

It is to me not only very sad, but extremely disturbing, to see politicians to cater to anti-choice propaganda. To appeal to well-worn emotional rhetoric, which is for the most part based on lies and misinformation, put women at risks. Those who do so play dangerous games with women’s lives and basic well-being. Canadians, and the people of Ottawa, expect better from politicians, and certainly, we expect them not to cave in to campaigns of fear-mongering and intimidation such as the anti-choice has been constantly launching against women. However one feels about abortions, and certainly all views should be respected, in the end, it is a private choice. Trust women. Trust them, trust us, with our bodies, with our abilities to make responsible choices that also respect life. Treat them, us, like we deserve, like the grown-up adults that we are.

Best cordially,
Claudine Jacques

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Pro-Choice Presence during the anti-choice «March for Life»

 Thursday, May 12 2011 · 12:00pm - 3:00pm
Parliament Hill and near 160 Elgin street
Noon: we meet on parliament hill (during the anti-choice christian ho-down) and take space with our sex-positiveness. Generally, the strategy here has been to sit or stand quietly. We will meet directly on the Hill this year, on the east side of the grass (you can generally spot us as we tend to have colourful homemade signs)

1:30pm: Like previous years, we will be near the Human Rights monument on Elgin street during the anti-ch...oice march *the exact spot is decided the day of as antis always get a permit for the monument before we know the exact date* it will likely be in front of 160 Elgin street.

What to bring; Yourself, lots of creative reproductive justice signs (see below), instruments (like drums or a trumpet), lovers, children, siblings and friends ready to loudly chant that «this fucked up shit has got to go». Bringing snacks to share is also always appreciated!

After march: park debreif. Info will be given by word of mouth on the day of :)

Note: Despite not communicating with the police, they have been present every year. We recognize that having police at events can be a barrier for many people to participate fully in this type of activism, yet, as people who can, we attempt to realize our privilege of doing so, and holding ourselves accountable to the communities that do not.

This can be an IMMENSLY triggering event and we lovingly encourage people to set themselves up with lots of love and self-care that day.


What is reproductive justice?

As defined by Sistersong, Reproductive Justice is “the complete physical, mental, spiritual, political, economic, and social well-being of women and girls, and will be achieved when women and girls have the economic, social and political power and resources to make healthy decisions about our bodies, sexuality and reproduction for ourselves, our families and our communities in all areas of our lives. For this to become reality, we need to make change on the individual, family, community, and institutional levels to end all forms of oppression, including forces that deprive us of self-determination and control over our bodies, and limit our reproductive choices. This oppression has been implemented through the controlling and exploiting of women and girls through our bodies, sexuality, and reproduction (both biological and social) by families, communities and institutions.

Reproductive Justice includes, and goes beyond abortion, contraception, choice and access. Reproductive justice means fighting for all people to create and sustain the kinds of families they want, how they want, when they want. This movement takes its leadership from the communities most affected by these issues. Indigenous communities and communities of colour founded this movement because of exclusion and continue to be at the forefront.

Colonialism ...
Racism ...
Dis/ability rights ...
Two-Spirit, Queer & Trans rights ...
Environmental Justice ...
(Im)migration ...
Poverty ...
Health ...
Gender ...
Ageism ...
Violence ...
Housing ...
Food ...
Education ...
Labour (including Sex Work) ...

…is a Reproductive Justice issue.

For more information, keep on reading

Reproductive justice – for real, for me, for you, for now
By Jessica Yee
found here:

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Letter writing - Pizza eating - POWER social!

Tuesday, January 11 · 6:30pm - 8:30pm
Venus Envy (Corner Bank and Lisgar)

Calling on all sex workers, their friends, their allies!
POWER needs your help!

On December 2nd POWER asked the Ontario Human Rights Commission to inquire into the Ottawa Police Service Treatment of Ottawa area sex workers


•Let’s remind the commission of our determination to see this happen
•Let’s eat pizza and hang out
•Let’s meet new people who are interested in fighting for sex workers' rights and let's share stories

Tuesday night! Jan 11th, Come and join us! There shall be pizza!

If You can't make it, please spread the word and contact POWER (over our fb page) if you want to send a letter to the Commission too!

More information here:!/event.php?eid=181906745161515&index=1

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Oppose Bill C-150

The vote for this is happening soon! Please write your MP with a copy of the letter, or your own letter urging them to vote against C-150.

Subject: [arcc-friends] Updated sample letter to MPs on Bill C-510
Date: Mon, 6 Dec 2010 19:32:07 -0800

Hi everyone, below is a rewritten sample letter to send to your MP on Bill C-510. Even if you've already sent a letter, please consider sending another! It won't hurt - especially now that we're closer to the vote - December 15. We (ARCC) will also be attempting to convince Ignatieff to ensure his anti-abortion MPs will abstain or absent themselves from the vote.
One thing that's not mentioned in the sample letter, but which may be of interest, is the use of the word "child" in the bill to refer to a fetus. Rod Bruinooge has said that he simply adopted the existing language of the Criminal Code but that this could be changed in committee (like we could rely on that!). In a letter that ARCC sent to MPs today (those with a pro-choice or unknown stance), we said: "The bill is trying to smuggle fetal rights into law because it refers to an embryo/fetus as a "child," even though the Criminal Code reserves that term for born children, while "unborn child" is used only to refer to the fetus immediately before or during birth."
Although this bill seems unlikely to pass 2nd reading, we don't want another Bill C-484 fiasco, so your help in pestering your MP (or Ignatieff would be greatly appreciated. Thanks so much!

Sample Letter Opposing Bill C-510,
to prohibit "coerced abortion"

December 6, 2010

Please send a letter to your MP asking them to vote against the private member's bill C-510, "an act to amend the Criminal Code (coerced abortion)." The bill was introduced in April and debated on November 1st for the first time. It is scheduled for a second round of debate on Dec 13, and the vote is expected to take place on December 15.

Below is a sample letter that you can copy and paste into an email or a letter. Feel free to edit the letter or write your own.

Look up your MP here:

For more info on the bill, see ARCC's press release:

Also, a clever alternate bill banning coerced childbirth can be found here:

Thank you! (and please send this link to your friends!)

Subject: Please vote against Bill C-510

Dear [insert your MP's name]

I'm writing to ask you to please vote on December 15 against Bill C-510, an act to prohibit "coerced abortion." This bill is just another disguised anti-abortion bill pretending to help women. In reality, it's designed to promote abortion stigma, paternalize women, and open the door to re-criminalizing abortion.

Bill C510 is a private member's bill that would amend the Criminal Code to prohibit coercing a woman into an abortion via physical or financial threats, illegal acts, or through "argumentative and rancorous badgering or importunity". It was introduced in April by anti-abortion Conservative MP Rod Bruinooge (Winnipeg South), who chairs the "Parliamentary Pro-Life Caucus." The bill was debated on November 1st, and is scheduled for a second debate on Dec 13, with a vote expected on December 15.

I am against this bill because it patronizes women by implying they are frequently coerced into abortion. However, the vast majority of women make their own decision to have an abortion and take responsibility for it. Further, if a pregnant woman is coerced, it is just as likely - if not more likely - that she will be pressured to bring a pregnancy to term. I am against any type of coercion, and must point out that the main purpose of the anti-choice movement is to force women to carry every pregnancy to term by recriminalizing abortion. Further, many women are emotionally harmed by anti-choice people pressuring them NOT to have an abortion, in particular staff at "crisis pregnancy centres." (See

If the intent of this bill is supposedly to protect pregnant women from abusive partners, we need better and more comprehensive solutions than a criminal law approach. Women need pay equity, affordable childcare, legal aid, and other measures that will empower them to leave abusive relationships.

Bill C-510 is an unnecessary and redundant bill because threats and illegal acts are already illegal under the Criminal Code, and counselors at clinics already screen for possible coercion in women seeking abortion. However, the anti-choice movement falsely believes that abortion providers coerce women into abortions, so I worry that this bill may encourage frivolous charges against providers and add to the atmosphere of fear and intimidation. Providers have lived with the constant threat of harassment and violence by anti-abortionists for over 20 years in Canada, and they do not need even more to worry about.

Thank you in advance for voting against Bill C510.


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Statement by No Bill 94 Coalition

Quebec Premier Jean Charest has proposed legislation which, if approved by the National Assembly of Quebec, would deny essential government services, public employment, educational opportunities, and health care to people who wear facial coverings. Bill 94 specifically targets Muslim women who wear the niqab (face veil). The bill is an exaggerated response to a manufactured crisis that will allow the government to deny women services to which they are entitled. A truly democratic society is one in which all individuals have the freedom of religious expression and a right to access public services.

Although touted as a step toward gender equality, Bill 94, if approved, will perpetuate gender inequality by legislating control over women’s bodies and sanctioning discrimination against Muslim women who wear the niqab. Instead of singling out a minuscule percentage of the population, government resources would be better spent implementing poverty reduction and education programs to address real gender inequality in meaningful ways. Barring any woman from social services, employment, health, and education, as well as creating a climate of shame and fear around her is not an effective means to her empowerment. If Premier Charest’s government is truly committed to gender equality it should foster a safe and inclusive society that respects a woman’s right to make decisions for herself. Standing up for women’s rights is admirable. “Rescuing” women is paternalistic and insulting. Further marginalizing Muslim women who wear niqab and denying them access to social services, economic opportunities and civic participation is unacceptable.

Forcing a woman to reveal part of her body is no different from forcing her to be covered. Both the federal Conservative and Liberal parties have expressed support for Bill 94, which raises the very real possibility that similar legislation will be proposed across Canada. We demand that Bill 94 be withdrawn immediately, as it has no place in a democratic state that values autonomy, liberty and justice.

No Bill 94 Coalition is made up of concerned individuals, organizations and grassroots movements that are demanding that the proposed Quebec legislation, Bill 94, be withdrawn immediately.

We invite all individuals and groups of conscience inside and outside of Quebec to publicly or privately endorse this statement by emailing their name(s), location (city, state/province, and country), and contact information to
For more information please go to

Where we stand- A Statement on the Ottawa Police

A Statement on the Ottawa Police

please forward widely*

statement on the Ottawa Police

endorsed by:
No One Is Illegal (Ottawa)
Pro-Choice Coalition of Ottawa
Under Pressure
Common Cause Ottawa
Indigenous People's Solidarity Movement Ottawa (IPSMO)

On Saturday November 20th two queer activists were arrested for unfurling a banner as part of the Trans Day of Remembrance events. The banner, which read ''Remember Stonewall?'', was dropped from a highway overpass near the Ottawa Police station on Elgin street, where a flag-raising ceremony for TDOR was about to take place. Many in the queer and trans community were upset that some TDOR organizers would choose to host an event with the police, given how tense the relationship between queer and trans groups and the cops has become. The flag-raising ceremony at the cop shop was supposed to turn into a march to Parliament Hill, but many in the community chose to gather at Minto park, a few blocks away, as an alternate to the police ceremony – making it clear that the police do not have the trust of many in Ottawa's queer and trans community.

Many groups have found it increasingly difficult, if not impossible, to work with the police, and so we would like to take this opportunity to reiterate our opposition to the idea that we must always work with the cops.

Many of us come from communities that have long been targeted by police forces, and continue today to be harassed by and experience violence from those same forces. We are queer, poor, non-status, trans, racialized, sex-workers, indigenous, disabled and homeless. We have been victims of violence, wrongful arrests, sexual assaults, intimidation and ridicule by the police.

This has been the case for many many years. But recently, in the last year, the systemic nature of abuses on the part of the Ottawa police has been so exposed that even the most sympathetic can no longer excuse it as 'a few bad apples'.

Earlier this year Ottawa Police released the photograph of a man who didn't disclose his HIV-positive status to partners, using the words "sexual predator” in media communications. The young man is now being charged with aggravated sexual assault for allegedly spreading a sexually transmitted disease. His picture made the front page of Ottawa newspapers. Despite this being widely condemned by HIV activists and community organizations, Police Chief Vern White stood by his decision earlier this year to release the photograph. By flatly rejecting a community proposal to review and develop policy guidelines for prosecution for HIV non-disclosure cases, Chief White showed no interest in collaboration and chose to ignore the expertise of HIV/AIDS community organizations and legal opinions denouncing this intensification of the criminalization of HIV. The outrage over this incident caused deep divisions in the queer community during Ottawa Pride in August, when official Pride organizers invited the Ottawa police to speak at the human rights vigil as part of the week's events, prompting an outcry from community-based HIV/AIDS organizations and activists in which they stated that if the police were not uninvited from the event they would be forced to withdraw and organize independently.

This summer well over a thousand people were arrested at the mass anti-G20 mobilizations in Toronto. Some were beaten, some were dragged from their beds in the early hours of the days of action, some were captured on their way to or from the protests and some were caught in mass arrests. Most of the arrestees have had their charges dropped, though some still face serious Conspiracy charges, draconian bail conditions, while some remain in jail and others face deportation.

On June 18th of this year three local activists were arrested. One was released a few days later under strict conditions, another spent months in jail, and another remains locked up today. Charges have been stayed for two of the arrestees, but the damage to their lives has already been done. In addition, through the court proceedings it was discovered that police had not only had active surveillance on local activist groups, but actually had an undercover agent infiltrating social justice organizations.

Recently, an Ottawa police officer who followed a cab driver to the airport, in a fit of road-rage after being cut off on the road, and broke the cab driver's arm after uttering racial slurs, was acquitted. Despite the obvious racist motivations behind the attack, and the complicity of other officers in the incident, the Police Chief chose to defend his officers and faced sharp criticisms from the taxi driver's union who could not be appeased, and demanded that the entirety of the Ottawa police force be reviewed and that Chief White address the systemic racism of the force.

Recently, a number of women have gone public with charges of harassment and assault against Ottawa police officers, many of them implicating the same officers in a more than one incident of abuse – officers who remain employed by the Ottawa police. We learned about the case of a young woman who was arrested, sexually assaulted – violence which was caught on police video – and held for hours by the Ottawa police after having committed no crime. Walking through the Byward Market late at night she was a victim of social profiling. A judge called her treatment a ''travesty.'' Two weeks later, another woman came forward with a lawsuit against the same officers, among others, for assault while in custody and wrongful arrest. And this past weekend, another Ottawa woman also came forward with charges of sexual assault and mistreatment while in custody after being arrested without cause.

We say that these are not random or unrelated incidents. And they are also just the tip of the iceberg, further proof of a bad system that must be changed immediately.

These are not just a few bad apples – this is a corrupt, illegitimate, and violent institution. More than the high profile cases that we see on the news, it is the institutionalized discrimination and day-to-day abuses of the police that worry us the most: systemic racism and misogyny, the continued arrests of sex workers, the ticketing of panhandlers, the lack of any real action for the hundreds of missing aboriginal women, the harassment and criminalization of drug users and countless other offences. Despite mountains of proof that criminalization does more harm than good, it continues to be the only agenda that this city is willing to put money behind. This dangerous strategy is being implemented by a police force with a long and troubling history of violence, abuse of authority, and impunity. This is not a system that we deem fair and democratic and this is not a system that we will cooperate with.

We applaud the efforts of all those struggling for justice and freedom, and those who have risked or lost their freedoms in this fight. We stand in solidarity with all prisoners and all those struggling to survive in the face of a system that would rather see them dead. We will continue to support all political arrestees and all those subjected to police brutality, and continue to proclaim loudly that the police are not our friends.

For more information and recent articles about our local police force:

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Sex work 201 + sex positive position statement workshop

AIDS Committee of Ottawa
251 Bank street
Ottawa, ON

We, members of PCCO, would like to make loud and clear our feminist support for our sisters and brothers who engage in sex work. As many of you are aware, on September 28th, the Ontario Superior Court struck down three Criminal Code provisions that marginalized and victimized sex trade workers. We applaud this move.

We're quite pissed off by all the sex negativity going around following the Bedford ruling. While certain organisations would like to think that they can speak for all feminists, we would rather speak for ourselves. And we encourage other activists groups to do the same.

On Friday Dec 3rd we will take part in a sex work 201 workshop, with the intention of creating an informed and genuine sex positive position statement.

This will be a 3 hour gathering, with the first 2 hours dedicated to the workshop and the 3rd to a discussion. PCCO already has a draft to work from. We encourage other organisations to do the same.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

We're in the news!

we're in the news... (it should be noted that no phone calls or emails were received from lifesitenews, despite their assertion that " did not hear back from the Pro-Choice Coalition of Ottawa by press time")

Pro-choice group wants anti-abortion protest permit revoked

Ottawa Pro-Aborts Trying to Get 40 Days for Life Permit Revoked

Bodies of dissent: a panel discussion on building radical support for our sexual justice movements

The pro-chocie coalition of Ottawa / Coalition pro-choix d'Ottawa
invites you to a pro-choice, sex-positive event

Bodies of dissent: a panel discussion on building radical support for our sexual justice movements

...Monday, Nov1st, 6:00-9:00pm

a fundraiser for an abortion emergency access fund, in response to the anti-choice harassment campaign sanctioned by the City of Ottawa, and currently happening on Bank street (

Tania Dopler, a member of the Ottawa Aboriginal community and an outreach worker with the Ontario Aboriginal HIV/AIDS Strategy, will be there to offer a smudge.

Feminist support workers from the Carleton Sexual Assault Support Line will be present to offer support on site.

SHAG, a youth advisory group from the Youth Services Bureau that is dedicated to educating, advocating and acting as a resource on sexual heath and wellness for our peers in Ottawa, will be selling us some sexy baked goods.


Rayna Farr-Dutchin has been alive since December 1994, she is an Ottawa native with a penchant for music and poutine. She became involved with RJ at a very early age but never really thought she'd be doing anything like this in the future since she's a bit of a goof-ball. Rayna's favorite colour is rainbow and her favorite word is a swear so it can't be written here (note from organizers: fuck ya it can!). Since the age of 13 Rayna has watched the slow but steady sexual progression of her peers with interest, disgust, and horror. At the same time she has been blessed to experience a Catholic High Schools Sex-Ed curriculum. After attending a Young Women's Leadership Institute in New York City this summer Rayna realized that there was a need in society to hear from a teen when it came to sex. Instead of some adult who thinks they're "with-it" enough to be able to speculate how a 16 year olds mind works.

A proud Two Spirit youth, Jessica Yee is the founder and Executive Director of the Native Youth Sexual Health Network, the first and only organization of its kind in North America by and for Indigenous youth working within the full spectrum of sexual and reproductive health throughout the continent. Jessica is currently serving as the first Chair of the National Aboriginal Youth Council at the Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network, the International Indigenous HIV/AIDS Working Group, and is the co-chair of the North American region for the Global Indigenous Youth Caucus at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. She is a strong believer in the power of the youth voice and agency, and you can see her writing on sites like Racialicious, or pick up her recently released book "Sex Ed and Youth: Colonization, Communities of Colour, and Sexuality" and look for her upcoming book in Winter 2011 "Deconstructing the Academic Industrial Complex of Feminism: Feminist Education Now - Youth, Activism, and Intersectionality". She is the 2009 recipient of the YWCA Young Woman of Distinction award, named one of 20 International Women's Health Heroes by Our Bodies/Our Blog and was recently awarded the Miziwe Biik Aboriginal Youth Entrepreneur Award for her founding of the Native Youth Sexual Health Network.

POWER is a non-profit, voluntary organization founded on February 17th, 2008. Membership is open to individuals of all genders who self-identify as former or current sex workers, regardless of the industry sector in which they work(ed) (i.e. dancers, street level workers, in and out call workers, phone sex etc). POWER envision a society in which sex workers are able to practice their professions free of legal and social discrimination, victimization, harassment and violence and in which sex work is valued as legitimate and fulfilling work making an important contribution to society.

Tomee Sojourner is an Organizational & Community Development Consultant, Social Entrepreneur, Diversity and Social Inclusion Expert, Social Commentator, Artist, and Motivational Speaker. For over 15 years, she has situated her activism, professional, and personal work on developing socially transformative courses/workshops/resources covering various topics including, anti-racism, oppresshun awareness, intersectional diversity, health care, sexual and mental health, and organizational/community development. Tomee has as M.A. in Social Justice and Equity Studies. She has been a College Professor and guest lecturer for high school, graduate and undergraduate students.Tomee’s professional work is informed by her intersectional diversity, and her lived experiences as a Black, masculine-identified queer woman, educator, and social entrepreneur thriving with a learning disability.

tickets are sliding scale
35$ at the door
(no one will be turned away)

Advanced tickets are really appreciated and help with the organizers anxiety levels.

Tickets sold at Venus Envy- 320 Lisgar St
Ottawa University Women's Resource Center- UCU 220
Ahora's Mexican Restaurant - 307, Dalhousie St
or with your friendly neighborhood activist.

ASL interpretation available. Please contact us for further accessibility needs. Please register for free childcare before oct 25th at