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Hey folks, go sign the letter at the Feminist Current to the BC NDP calling for a response to questionable actions of its VP.

 

This letter was sent to all addressees, via email, on February 2nd. A response was requested within seven days. To date, we have not received a response.

ATTN: The New Democratic Party of British Columbia (BC NDP);
The BC NDP Provincial Council;
Premier John Horgan;
Craig Keating, President, BC NDP;
Erin Arnold, Outreach Director, BC NDP Women’s Rights Committee;
Sheila Malcolmson, NDP Critic for the Status of Women;
Sheri Benson, NDP Deputy Critic for LGBTQ2+ Issues

Dear Sirs and Madams,

We — the undersigned — are Canadians deeply concerned with recent public statements and behaviour on the part of Morgane Oger, Vice President of the BC NDP.

On January 20th, Women’s Marches took place across North America. Initially fuelled by anger over Donald Trump’s election and boasts of sexual misconduct, this year the #Metoo campaign galvanized women around the world towards solidarity and action. No longer can we deny that women and girls everywhere continue to suffer abuse and harassment in every arena of life, at the hands of men.

In Vancouver, one woman who attended the march carried a sign reading:

“Transwomen are men. Truth is not hate. Don’t believe the hype — trans ideology is misogyny and homophobic. Woman is not a ‘feeling,’ a costume, or a performance of a stereotype. Woman is a biological reality. There is no ethical or moral reason to lie to soothe the male ego.

Do not cis-gender me. Stop the stereotypes. I am neither conforming nor non-conforming. My preferred prefix is neither cis nor trans. I am a female. Resist Orwellian Newspeak.”

After being posted to social media, a photo of the woman holding this sign went viral. She was subjected to numerous threats of violence and death as a result.

Oger shared the image online as well, publicly requesting the identity and address of the woman, stating intention to file a human rights complaint against her. On Facebook, Oger wrote:

“Apparently not everyone at the Vancouver Women’s March was equally enlightened about why trans women are women… A concerned citizen passed this photo on to me. This is hate speech. Anyone know who this person is? I’d like to speak to her.

… That person in the photo is free to have beliefs and to express those beliefs without breaking the law. I feel that she has overstepped. What this person has done is take things to the next step, like publishing it in a newspaper or distributing it in mailouts. I believe that what she has done is prohibited in BC. She is invited to contact me for a chat or email my office at morgane@morganeoger.ca.”

In a comment on the same post, Oger wrote:

“Who is a woman in Canada and British Columbia is not based on their plumbing but on our gender identity. Women are women because we say we are. Attributes usually associated with women are protected for all women, whether they possess them or not, like plumbing or biological function. We have six months for somebody to file a complaint against this woman on the basis of gender identity. But to do this, who she is needs to be known. If somebody knows who she is please email me the information at morgane@morganeoger.ca

These comments equate to a public threat and defamation, and have led to further harassment of the woman in the photo. Oger has knowingly continued to fuel these threats and this harassment through ongoing, numerous posts on social media. We wonder why the BC NDP has yet to take action on this behaviour? In this case, the statements are particularly disturbing, as they have put an individual woman’s life and livelihood in danger.

Oger has referenced a “team of lawyers” on social media numerous times. One tweet read:

“The Supreme Court of Canada has upheld human rights tribunal rulings about hate speech twice. My legal team is confident that the act of publishing hateful material is the only test in this case and the material on that sign matches the hate test.”

In another, Oger stated:

“There are laws put in place to protect transgender people from transphobia. One such law bans the publishing of hate in public. I expect Canada’s laws to be applied.”

We are curious to know who this “team of lawyers” is and how they are being financed. Either Oger is in a financial position to hire a “team of lawyers” to bully and silence women who cannot afford such a luxury, or the lawyers in reference are the BC NDP’s legal team. Is the BC NDP using its government resources to persecute and harass citizens who disagree with their representatives? Does the BC NDP support Oger’s intention to potentially impoverish a woman by forcing her to hire “a team of lawyers” to defend her right to hold a sign Oger does not like at a women’s protest march?

We are concerned by these tactics and an expressed desire to silence those whose opinions conflict with those held by the Vice President of the BC NDP. We are concerned that many people have refrained from commenting on Oger’s behaviour or addressing it for fear of retribution, in large part due to the way Oger has responded with regard to this particular woman and her sign. Oger is leveraging political power in a deeply troubling way, with intention to intimidate fellow NDP members and constituents into fear and silence.

Politicians should expect that people will disagree with them — that is par for the course. But politicians should be gracious and deferential to their critics when those critics are just members of the public. Potential voters are being insulted, demeaned, bullied, and smeared by a representative of the NDP. This is not how Canadian politicians should handle conflict and disagreement. Instead of engaging in meaningful, principled debate, Oger invites and escalates conflict, is unable to negotiate or reach consensus with a large portion of voters, defames and insults them, targets individuals with relentless harassment and smear campaigns, and advocates that real, material harm be inflicted on them (i.e. loss of job, reputation, criminal charges, financial ruin, etc.). We would ask whether the BC NDP believes that this behaviour is reflective of the Party’s values, and the values of its constituents.

The woman who is being intimidated by Oger was expressing ideas and sentiments that are important and meaningful to her and to many other members of the Canadian public. All Canadians should feel comfortable expressing ideas that are meaningful and important to them, free from intimidation, bullying, and harassment.

“Gender identity” itself remains vaguely defined. It rests on an ideology that claims gender is innate, when in fact gender roles are socially imposed, based on biological sex, as a means to normalize the hierarchy that exists between men and women under patriarchy. Women’s sex-based rights, on the other hand, rest on material reality: we know that women in our society are discriminated against and subjected to male violence on account only of having been born female. We have judgments protecting women from discrimination based on things like pregnancy, miscarriage, abortion, and breastfeeding, on the explicit reasoning that only one sex gives birth and only one sex breastfeeds. The notion that males can actually be female if they “feel” it or if they emulate feminine stereotypes conflicts with women’s sex-based rights as it not only reduces “woman” to something intangible and undefinable, but claims women’s oppression is rooted in “feeling” or personal identity rather than on biological sex. Challenges to the concept of “gender identity” should be not only acceptable but encouraged.

We expect the BC NDP to condemn their Vice President’s actions and behaviour and request that Oger cease and desist. In Canada, we expect our political representatives not to engage in the public bullying of women or in coordinated harassment campaigns against those they disagree with, and we expect them to refrain from threatening constituents. The BC NDP should let its Vice President know — and women in general — that bullying and censorship are not party values.

To add your name to the list of signees please click here.

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