Women's Policy Units Wiped Out: Minister Responsible Refers to Feminists as 'Feminazis'

Article excerpt

Saskatchewan and the Yukon are the latest governments to sack their provincial women's policy units in a trend that is slowly sweeping the country.

On April Fool's Day, the Yukon dismantled its directorate as part of a "government renewal" campaign. The directorate went from a stand-alone department whose director reported directly to the minister, to a line item in the Executive Council Office reporting to two assistant deputy ministers. As one government researcher remarked, "And this under a woman premier (Pat Duncan)."

Twelve days later, things went from bad to worse. An email sent by Yukon Status of Women Minister Sue Edelman to her colleagues was quoted in The Yukon News and Whitehorse Star in which Edelman declared the women's movement dead and referred to women's groups as "feminazis" who had taken over her right to state her opinions. Edelman has since resigned as minister responsible for the status of women, but maintains the health and social services portfolios.

Women's secretariats or directorates typically review and develop government legislation. Policy analysis is the behind-the-scenes work of crafting new initiatives and tweaking existing programs. Women's advocates predict that with such antagonism towards the equality units on the rise, women's progress at the provincial level will deteriorate.

Shortly after B.C. Women's Equality Minister Lynn Stephens said that a separate ministry of women's equality wasn't necessary, the branch was absorbed into the ministry of community, aboriginal and women's services. Dodie Goldney of the B.C. Coalition of Women's Centres says Stephens has done "a discredit to women's equality in B.C." The coalition called for her resignation.

Now a junior portfolio, the B.C. status of women minister reports to the minister of community, aboriginal and women's services. The Liberal government of Gordon Campbell also announced plans to eliminate core funding for women's centres by 2004, saying that centres don't provide a service.

In Saskatchewan, NDP premier Lorne Calvert's women's secretariat was absorbed into the department of labour following the March budget. …