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