With friends like REAL Women, does 'social conservatism' need enemies? - Macleans.ca

With friends like REAL Women, does ‘social conservatism’ need enemies?

Colby Cosh on the least-effective activists in Canadian politics

Keeping things unreal for far too long

Chip East/Reuters

REAL Women of Canada may be the most successful social conservative advocacy group in this country that’s not a church—if you’re judging by a standard of longevity and visible activity, that is. Its national vice-president and public face, Gwen Landolt, has been making headlines with REAL Women and various precursor organizations longer than your grey-bearded correspondent has been alive. As right-wing institutions rise and fall, REAL Women and Landolt keep chugging along, keeping a busy office going in the nation’s capital and continuing to intervene in high-profile appellate cases.

If you doubt that divine providence is on the side of the “Realistic, Equal, Active, (for) Life” crew, consider that they forgo official charitable status in order to preserve their right to engage in partisan activity—as, for example, they did in their slashing Aug. 7 public attack on Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird. Canada is full of charities that would sooner machine-gun their own headquarters than sacrifice their ability to issue tax receipts. The REAL Women keep things REAL without having to police their every word for partisanship.

Their endurance is more impressive when you consider that they’re pretty much the Washington Generals of political advocacy. Landolt has been at the forefront of the pro-life movement since the late Dr. Henry Morgentaler was no more than a young oddball. She devoted a life’s labour to restricting abortion in Canada, with the result that Canada has no abortion law and no prospect of ever developing one, while Dr. Morgentaler slumbers in a very comfortable niche of the national pantheon. As an unanticipated bonus, we got same-sex marriage along the way. Whee! One has to figure that if the REAL Women are given 30 more years, we’ll have polyamory lessons in kindergartens.

The attack on Baird for “abusing his office” by opposing anti-gay legislation and pogroms in Russia and Uganda comes at a moment of disillusion for social conservatives. Pro-lifers trumped up the issue of sex-selective abortion last year in order to reconnoitre the political scene, and in a pure nose count the Conservative caucus turns out to be about half pro-life. But the balance of genuine power is a 100 to 1 against: Stephen Harper will not even really do his so-cons the favour of opposing or criticizing them.

The emerging so-con party line is that this weakness is all the fault of a structurally over mighty Prime Minister’s Office. One cannot help suspecting the real failure is an intellectual one. The gay newspaper Xtra interviewed Gwen Landolt after her organization issued its press release attacking Baird. The crux of Justin Ling’s questioning was simple: Why the heck shouldn’t a foreign affairs minister use his influence to help victims of open persecution abroad?

This was a foreseeable question, but Landolt quickly found herself making an incredible baloney-slicing case that some forms of international activism are all right because their premises are enshrined in UN documents. Apartheid is bad, sure, because the Universal Declaration of Human Rights mentions race. It also says that “men and women . . . have the right to marry and to found a family,” and doesn’t actually specify “one of each”; but since there is no United Nations Magna Carta as such for gays, John Baird supposedly has no business going to bat for them.

There is actually an unadopted UN gay rights resolution floating around, and it has been signed by representatives of every country in the world you would want to live in, but it cannot reach the floor of the assembly because of, well, the Saudis and the Somalis and the Syrians. Landolt, who boasted to Xtra, “I am a conservative so I know how we think,” needed surprisingly little time to manoeuvre herself into tacitly endorsing these countries as supreme arbiters of the one true global human rights standard. She also waxed indignant about “interfering in a sovereign nation,” as if remonstrating with a few Ugandan parliamentarians were the same thing as sending the Air Force to rain hell on Kampala.

There are actual social conservatives—conservatives of the sort who would happily vote for a bit of tough Ugandan-style legislation to keep gays in line hereabouts—who will read the Landolt interview and chuckle. “The United Nations? Really? With friends like these, does ‘social conservatism’ need enemies?” It probably doesn’t. But to ask how Landolt retains her place in the so-con ecosystem is probably to make that most elementary of male errors: thinking that something is for use when it’s only for display.

For more Colby Cosh, visit his blog at macleans.ca/colbycosh


With friends like REAL Women, does ‘social conservatism’ need enemies?

  1. Our REAL prairie muffins….women who are into bondage. Trouble is they think everyone else is too.

    • How many members does this group have? Married ladies that are married to ultra-conservative types who will donate to the cause?
      I certainly don’t know anyone who belongs to this no matter how conservative/right wing their thoughts are.
      Does anyone?

      • No idea. Could be 2 people and a website, could be thousands. People are strange.

  2. FYI, there is another reason, aside from wanting to engage in political advocacy, that some groups don’t pursue registered charitable status, and that is to avoid all sorts of disclosure requirements in returns that Revenue Canada publishes on its web site such as revenue and expenses, staff salaries, directors, etc.

    Reporters should always ask groups that present themselves as representative of even a small cross-section of Canadians: “How many voting members do you have and where does your money come from?”

    • You mean like Justin Trudeau’s charitable lobby money from Grace Foundation charity. As really, the Grace Foundation is a liberal lobby organization hiding as a charity. And the deception, so priceless. I suspect they all do it.

      I agree, reporters never disclose where the money really came from, who runs the organization, or their motive operandi. Goes for politics, econ groups and even defense lawyers looking for public sympathy. CBC is real bad for the later as they often take a criminal lawyers assertions as fact to drive up the BS factor and appease the dysfunctional mostly unemployed readership they have.

      For example, many would be surprised to learn many of the so called eco organizations that are anti pacific coast access for our resources get money shuffled in from USA to support their causes. The money is shuffled to hid the financial motivations. And the local eco-scare organization really does nothing but collect fat pay checks and no real science at all.

      If politicians mouth it, or media prints it, always best to be critical including examination of authenticity and real motivation behind it.

      • Grace Foundation is a Liberal Charity – so cleverly disguised they have Con operatives on the board. It sounds like you didn’t follow this at all.

      • Firstly, you should see someone about your Justin Trudeau obsession.

        Secondly, No I absolutely do not mean charities like Grace Foundation which is registered under the name The Church Home Charitable Foundation and reports its current directors, charitable activities and spending to the Canadian Revenue Agency.

        I mean organizations that supposedly act for Canadians and make their way into news stories regularly but with no transparency about where their funds come from, how they spend them, or who they actually represent.

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  4. I read with great relish, the Kady O’Malley article on-line yesterday, where Landolt was bemoaning her perception that REAL was experiencing an orchestrated campaign of hate and intimidation as a result of the media coverage of their diatribe against Baird. She went on to bemoan the fact that those who have faith-based beliefs or hold traditional values, are not permitted to express or act on their values. In other words, she is upset that her set of values, do not allow her and her followers to discriminate against Gays. She could not make the intellectual leap, that the campaign of hate and intimidation she felt was being directed her way was exactly what REAL has directed at Gays.

    REAL has a unique perception of what the law should be, what the definition of human rights should be; their faith-based beliefs or their traditional values should trump both the law and human rights. How dare Canadian society not allow these Real women to discriminate against Gays. Hopefully, this latest diatribe of theirs will greatly reduce their influence with the current government. Maybe the many Parliamentary Committees that they have been given seats at will be off-limits to them. I would really like to know what percentage of women they actually represent.

    • You’re right – Landolt has a steady gig appearing as the voice of conservatism at committee meetings. The government has leaned heavily on her appearances. I’d love to know if there’s some tax payer money going to RW by some backdoor means.

  5. Here’s the full text of Russia’s anti-grooming bill (note: it’s not an anti-gay bill):


    It imposes a non-criminal code administrative fine of $125 for propaganda aimed at children – sort of like jaywalking or smoking in a public park in Canada, only less expensive and oppressive. Wow. Big deal.

    The text of the bill and the preamble make it clear this is solely aimed at propagandizing and bullying and stalking children, which anybody with one scruple to rub against the next should support. Indoctrinating five year olds with gay militancy is not a human right.

    How is the law applied? Shortly after its passage some gay activists, being the jerkfaces that they are, stood outside the children’s library in Moscow with a large sign “It’s OK to be gay” or some such entry-level propaganda. That’s stalking, and harassing, and grooming, of kids. They were detained but not actually fined. You can read the details at Russia GLBT Network site (which would be banned if Russia were truly anti-gay)


    It’s perfectly legal to be gay in Russia, or own or go to gay nightclubs, or even be a member of a gay advocacy group – it’s just prohibited to stalk and harass and groom kidss with gay propaganda.

    Every single article, including this one, in western media has lied to you.

    “opposing anti-gay legislation and pogroms in Russia”

    Neither of which exist outside of your fertile imagination, sir. You can still be a good libertarian or anarchist or whatever and oppose the more egregious excesses of gay militants, you know. Hassling and grooming kids isn’t a human right.

    Russia, with a budget surplus and a 13% flat tax, merely and wisely seeks to avoid what is happening in the failing liberal democracies, particularly Ontario: militant gay activists imposing a wholly inappropriate curriculum featuring anal sex instruction for 11 year olds and posters with blow job tips in the classroom. Good.

    Of the 200 odd countries on this planet, Russia is roughly the 165th most oppressive towards gays – it gets singled out because it is a white country and gay militants, being fundamentally white supremacist, believe it cruel to hold African and Asian countries to white standards. Yeah, I said white supremacist, because that’s precisely what it is.

    The country that made (“alleged”) gay pedophile Benjamin Levin deputy minister of education for Ontario has no lessons to teach Russia on this matter.

      • Good video.

    • Wow, holding an it’s OK to be gay sign is deemed by you to be stalking and harassing. Clearly our laws would not define that sign as such, but tell me, was it your faith-based beliefs or your traditional values that led you to this conclusion?
      Explain the difference between ‘values’ and ‘human rights’.

    • If lies are cancer, how much time do you have left?

    • If the blogspot and other link you provided are correct I can understand the law. But they way it has been portrayed in the media sounds like they are going to round up all the gays and send them to Siberia!

      I do wish Maclean’s or some other media would clarify this correctly so we can all make a reasonable judgement is it is really bad or not.

    • Well put “lies are Cancer”. Russia sees the danger where we are blind and deceived. Thank goodness for Real Woman of Canada.

  6. This sort of zeitgeist, which raises its ugly head every so often, usually follows a similar pattern There was a famous Albertan suffragette who advocated sterilizing young Indian girls whom she thought should not be allowed to procreate. I’m rather surprised that they haven’t gone so far as to call for the mandatory castration of young gay men. Now that would be a real cause for concern. Not a bunch of inconsequential, placard toting, soccer moms.

  7. Lan dolt – a dolt on a local area network

  8. Good. As they are more conservative and not just than party Conservative puppets.

    Huge problem with todays Conservative party is religious and moral corruption. They are really not that conservative at all, being more a statism party of government bloat and bailout corruption. Harper himself is a former Young Liberal of Canada.

    Only reason Harper won last time is the alternatives were worse. As the reality is with all the options on our ballot, we get one result of more governemtn bloat and less left in our wallet.

    I am a conservative, but I am not a Conservative. Women should have called Baird’s BS. As many a conservative like me wants middle of the road conservatism, not statism-neo-Cons.

    And why I didn’t vote for Harper in Calgary SW. Harper isn’t really a conservative, he is a statism type.

    • people forget this version of the Conservatives was a merger of the Reform party which was extreme right wing and what was left of the old Conservative party.

      I don’t like the “new or Stephen Harper Conservatives” as they are too ring wing for me and all for business and nothing for the middle and lower classes, pensioners, disabled etc.
      This version of Conservatives took on too much of the Reform party’s platform.

      I preferred the Bill Davis Conservatives back in the 1970’s and 80’s that worked with other groups, not worked at dismantling them!

    • You really shouldn’t believe anything you read on lifesitenews…the ultra right-ring, religious nonsense site that spews hate and bigotry towards anything that’s not ‘christian’, ‘catholick’, or ‘pro-fetus’.

  9. Read Marci McDonald’s “The Armageddon Factor” if you want to understand just how successfully Christian Right lobbyists have co-opted Ottawa’s inner sanctum. Opposing gay rights is so Anita Bryant-esque. REAL Women don’t speak for me. I miss the Red Tories like Joe Clark.

    • So if “Christian Right lobbyists have coopted Ottawa’s inner sanctum”, how come John Baird is vocally and visibly opposing Russia’s anti-gay laws, and how come this federal government has done absolutely nothing to restrict a Canadian woman’s right to abortion? How come Landolt and REAL Women are royally pissed off at this government? Can you please square that circle for me?

  10. “as if remonstrating with a few Ugandan parliamentarians were the same thing as sending the Air Force to rain hell on Kampala”
    Threatening to withhold food aid IS the same as ‘raining hell on Kampala’. It isn’t hard to see the next step is going to war.

  11. The real reason why Baird should not involve himself in this matter is because there are 10,000 more important things in the world to worry about. SUCH as, for instance even if you consider the gay issue.. all Islamic countries publically hang gays and treat homos worse than Russia. So why pick on Russia?

  12. Mr Baird is a radical crusader who wants to become a politician. It is VERY unprofessional of a Minister of Foreign affairs to express his radical opinion on foreign and domestic issues on TV because… it constitute a violation of chain of command in the government. Public/state policies in this respect may change and he will get himself between the rock and the hard place.