TORONTO — Here are excerpts from a recent interview with Judy Rebick, president of Canada's National Action Committee on the Status of Women (NAC).
On the constitutional dialogue:
We [the NAC] managed to sway the conferences [debating Canada's new constitution] to views they didn't like. So then they said we were "hijacking" the conferences. Well, I said, all we're doing is getting up in front of the mikes and expressing our views. I thought that was democracy, not hijacking. We didn't hold a gun to anybody's head.
On differences with US women's movement:
The situation with the women's movement is very different in Canada compared with the United States. We didn't experience the kind of backlash that's been happening in the States to the same degree here at all. We had some of it in the mid-80s. But we never had a decline in the women's movement here like there was in the States. The pro-choice movement was active right through the 80s, and it was huge. We had tens of thousands of people out in the streets.
We won legal abortions a year and a half ago. So that issue has moved to the back burner a bit.... It's not as central as it is in the US.
In Canada we celebrate diversity. It's not a melting pot. It's an understanding that equality doesn't mean treating everyone the same. It means giving people what they need, whatever group they might be, and to respect and acknowledge diversity. That's true in theory, but in reality it's just not happening.