Open Letter to NDP MP Niki Ashton re: Morgane Oger’s Bid for the NDP Nomination Vancouver-Centre

We are dismayed to learn that you are publicly supporting the candidacy of Morgane Oger for nomination to become the NDP candidate for Vancouver-Centre. In 2018, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh reiterated the party’s long-standing commitment to addressing the social, political and economic impact of women’s subordination, stating that

 As long as Indigenous women are overrepresented in prisons, as long as older women are trapped in poverty, as long as all women are paid less than men at work, as long as women face gender violence – and as long as women still have to fear having their rights taken away – we won’t stop pressing for true gender equality.”

You have expanded upon the issues relating to women’s inequality in a statement on women’s rights on your website.

 It is not possible to reconcile your views or Mr. Singh’s statement of commitment to women’s rights with your support of Morgane Oger who has, for years, engaged in a continuous and public attack on women’s rights, on women’s organizations, on public institutions that facilitate public discussion of women’s rights and on individual women identified as feminist journalists, public speakers and advocates.

On both Twitter and Facebook, on public accounts, Oger has engaged in a prolonged attack on Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter, one of Canada’s oldest and most respected women’s shelter, providing crisis line services to all who require them, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. VRRWS serves nearly 1,200 women a year – rape and sexual assault victims, women abused in the sex trade, women who have fled violent men with their children, poor, working class and disadvantaged women trying to rebuild their lives away from abusive men, women of all races and ethnicities.

VRRWS is also the only women’s shelter in Vancouver that offers women-only services, recognizing that women victims of male violence require spaces free of men to recover from abusive experiences outside the sphere of male influence and without fear of attack by men, as well as to formulate and strategize with respect to political responses to women’s oppression and exploitation and to educate the public with respect to men’s violence against women.

In a CityNews Toronto article published on March 21, 2019, Morgane Oger claimed to have been engaged in an attempt to stop Vancouver City Council’s grant to the VRRWS since 2013  – a grant that had been awarded to VRRWS every year since 2005, earmarked for public education on violence against women.

 As a result of Oger’s initiative, Vancouver City Council decided to end its grant to VRRWS after this year – a decision that ignored its own guidelines with respect to eligibility requirements. Oger now appears to be targeting the organization’s charitable status (March 15th, 2019, several times on March 19th, 2019 – here and here), and on March 20th, 2019,  implied an intention to target BC Housing’s funding for VRRWS’  transition house.

 On Twitter on (May 31st, 2018 ), Oger implied that VRRWS turns away women engaged in the sex trade. In fact, VRRWS provides services to such women, who are also included among its volunteers, employees and collective members.

 On Twitter on (May 26th, 2018), Oger stated that VRRWS advocates for “heterosexual cisgender rights only” refusing services to victims of same-sex violence or to lesbians. These statements are incorrect. VRRWS provides services to all women who have suffered violence including same-sex violence.

 On Twitter and Facebook, Oger constantly asserts that VRRWS has no legal basis (June 11th, 2018, March 26th, 2019 ) for its decision to provide services and shelter to women only. In human rights laws, both sex and gender identity are protected categories and must be balanced against each other.

 In fact, there is a case before the BC Human Rights Tribunal right now which must, in the result, balance the sex-based rights of women with the “gender identity” rights of a trans person. It is not yet known how the BCHRT will rule but what is clear is that Oger constantly misrepresents the state of the law with respect to sex-based rights and gender identity rights, going so far as to say that there is no longer any such thing as sex-based rights in Canadian law, blatantly misleading the Canadian public on a regular basis in stating that those women’s organizations that act for and on behalf of women as a sex class are violating the law.

 As it remains to be seen how these rights will be balanced when they conflict and it’s obvious that the struggle over the legal issues will be long, it is disingenuous to state that the law is clear and that women fighting for our rights before the law are in fact breaking it. To suggest this is an attempt to invalidate and dismiss women’s struggle long before the legal issues have been clarified. How can a person who so deliberately misrepresents the law adequately and appropriately represent Canadian citizens as a candidate for public office and as a federal MP?

Morgane Oger has also engaged in a prolonged attack on Meghan Murphy, an internationally respected Canadian feminist journalist, and on her publication, Feminist Current. Murphy has herself published principled and respectful articles, both at Feminist Current and other media, on the issues confronting us with respect to women’s right to organize, as women, in the struggle for our liberation and for the safety of women and girls in what have been till now sex-segregated spaces, respecting the privacy of women and girls and the need for spaces that provide relative safety, free from men. 

Along with other women’s advocates, Murphy has appeared in the USA and UK, Scotland and Canada, at public events that encourage discussion and respectful debate on issues of “gender identity” and women’s rights. In Scotland, Murphy was invited to address Parliament by Scottish National Party MSP Joan McAlpine. McAlpine noted that Murphy is “a socialist and feminist who is admired around the world for her bravery in speaking up for women” and recommended that women who express concerns about “allowing males to self-identity as women and access single sex spaces and services … should not be subject to abuse, or knee-jerk accusations of transphobia.”

We believe that Morgane Oger has subjected Meghan Murphy and other women’s advocates to abuse and knee-jerk accusations of transphobia.

One of the public discussions on these issues took place at the Vancouver Public Library on January 10th, 2019. Morgane Oger continues to publicly attack the event, the women speakers, particularly Meghan Murphy and, indeed, the VPL itself for hosting this event. We would have thought that an NDP candidate would support free and respectful public dialogue on these important problems in human rights law and public policy – the name of your party includes the word “Democratic”. Far from exhibiting a tolerant and respectful position, Oger continues to assert that the discussion itself is  unacceptable and to misrepresent the state of the law and public policy with respect to women’s and transgender rights. 

It is important to support women’s access to public spaces for the purposes of discussing, debating and educating with respect to women’s rights. It is shocking to see a respected NDP MP such as yourself support and endorse a person who consistently attacks and harasses women, women’s advocates, women’s organizations and institutions and indeed, public institutions and democratic processes themselves, while misrepresenting the content of the discussion and the intentions of the speakers.

We wouldn’t have thought that a person such as Morgane Oger, engaged in such blatant and ongoing attempts to mislead the Canadian public and stifle public discussion and debate, would be an apt candidate for the office of MP as a member of the NDP. We are shocked by Oger’s decision to attempt to advance certain views and opinions regarding  gender identity rights by attacking individual women and women’s organizations and by attempting to pre-empt open, public and democratic debate. Your decision to support Oger’s nomination campaign is equally shocking.

 We call upon you to stand up for women’s political rights and support women’s right to safety and security in our daily lives as we organize towards our liberation . Given the NDP’s stated commitment to women in the face of our subordination and oppression, if you do not do so, who will? If we cannot support and vote for you and other NDP candidates, where shall we go?

Elizabeth Pickett

Lynda Davies

Maureen Bourke

Alison Dover

Ness Fraser

Alexia Olson

David DePoe

Vera Peters

Monika Beatty

Linda Beacham

Erin Graham

Susan Smyth

Andrea Stumpf

Danielle Cormier

Kristal Kinistino

Susan Breeze

Orla Hegarty

S.L. Bondarchuk

Colleen Glynn

Amy Hamm

Diane Matte

Cheryl Smith

Catharine Daalton

Holly Stamer

Candice Pilgrim

Heather Mason

Krista Sawchuk

Willow Aster

Kate Tagseth

Cathy Sorenson

Tannis Larsen

Chris Linneman

Tina Jones

Margaret McCarroll

Jennifer White

Niki Fortier

Monica Sharma

Jeanette Nicholson

Sarah Nicholson

Sharon Fraser

Gordon B. Hill

Sarah Albertson

Jen Bjarnson

C. Dechant

Tamarack Verrall

Cathryn Atkinson

Heather Hawkins

Rebecca Whisnant

Raine McLeod

Celia A. Nord

Renee LaFortune

Kelly Quinn

Natalie Wlock

Jacqueline Gullion

Cheryl Angle

Suzette Cullen

Bonny Lees

Laurie Strang

Diana Shaw

Carolyn Jerome

Heather Hawkins

Jeff White

Cathy Swiffen

Donna Johnson

Kris Anderson

Judith Anderson

Trish Oliver

Barbara van’tSlot

Jennifer Doris

Kelly Constabaris

Annette Russell

Alison Batts

Kathleen Lowry

Sandra Tankard

Diana Majury

Rae Carlson

Michelle Lunny

Colette Surovy

Gaynor Harding

Karen Seabrooke

Lara Yates

Drena McCormack

Nancy Shaw

Marie Long

Kat Dawson

Kimberly Everett

Dustin McGregor

Amanda Gwynne

Joann Robertson

Zoë Lafantaisie

Melanie Knight

JM Janzen

The Lesbian Collective

Canadian Feminist Network

Newfoundland & Labrador Feminists & Allies

Radical Feminists Unite

NB: Many more women wanted to sign this letter but were legitimately and justifiably concerned about retaliation in their workplaces and in public after witnessing women lose their jobs, receive workplace discipline and become targets for harassment, stalking and threats of doxxing on social media-  and worse.

 

 

 

 

 

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23 Responses to Open Letter to NDP MP Niki Ashton re: Morgane Oger’s Bid for the NDP Nomination Vancouver-Centre

  1. xina08 says:

    Reblogged this on TJ's Blog.

  2. nonna says:

    I am ashamed to say I supported you and voted for you. By standing for this person who works against women’s rights you make a mockery of your office.

    Feminists worked for your right to run for that office. Feminists are the reason you suceeded.

    I can only imagine that you are pushed to do this for your political life, and it’s as repugnant to you as it is to us. I can only say you are misguided to abandon your principles. I remind you: you owe your political life to women who worked for you and stood by you.

    No more.

    Citizen of
    Churchill—Keewatinook Aski
    Adult Human Female

  3. Meghan Fisher says:

    I wish I could have signed this letter. I support both sex-based rights and gender rights but see them as wntirely different. Everyone deserves their basic human rights, some are sex (biological) based, some are gender (social construct and identity) based. And no one should have any right to abuse any one else’s basic human rights, nor threaten their dignity through harassment and abuse. Thank you for writing this letter. Help put an end to bullying.
    Stand strong for women and girls, stand strong for lgbtq rights and inclusion… great! But don’t expect women who understand that their sex based rights are being undermined to stand for you if you don’t learn the distinction between sex and gender.

    Meghan Fisher,
    Citizen of Naramata, BC
    Adult human female

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  5. Brian Cross says:

    I also voted for you as leader, Niki, and I think the NDP would be doing much better if you had won. As a resident of Vancouver Centre, I will be severing my links with the federal party if Oger wins the nomination.

    I already did so with the provincial party because Oger was the candidate offered to me in Vancouver False Creek in the last provincial election. The NDP lost this riding because so many traditional NDP supporters either stayed home or, like me, held our noses and voted for the Greens. Vancouver Rape Relief is held in high regard in this riding, in this city, nationally, and internationally. Rather than acting as a force to unify us against the corporate class that has brought us to the brink of human extinction, Oger wastes time and energy attacking this popular radical voice for change.

    Let’s not make the same mistake again.

    Brian Cross
    Vancouver Centre

  6. Can you add my name?
    Kathleen Lowrey, Edmonton

    GREAT letter. If women on the left can’t count on the NDP they really have nowhere to turn.

  7. Gaynor Harding says:

    please add my name and support to this letter. it is imperative that the discussion of the status of cross sex identified people in our society is open and honest. the NDP, and indeed, the government of Canada has done a poor job responding to the needs of women across the country. i am glad to have found this group of courageous people and am happy to stand up with you against the transgender lobby.

  8. Drena McCormack says:

    Please add my name to the letter: Drena McCormack, Powell River, B.C.

  9. NANCY SHAW says:

    Thanks for this, Elizabeth. Please add my name if it is not too late.

  10. Marie Long says:

    can you add my name?

  11. Amanda says:

    That was a great letter! I would like to sign also.
    Amanda Gwynne, Chilliwack, BC

  12. Joann Robertson says:

    I too worked for Oger is the last BC Provincial election. I did not know her history at the time. Please add my name to the list. Joann Robertson

  13. Stacey Doris says:

    I no longer support the NDP.
    I have never voted for any other party, provincially or federally.

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