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Canada: Women's Programs Religiously Axed

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Message Bahija Reghai

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has told Canadians that he will champion "a new G8 identity focused on ending child mortality and other health woes in poorer countries" because there "is a pressing need for global action on maternal and child health."

Indeed there is. However, does this statement indicate a temporary shift or a real change in Harper's policies, up to now perceived to be anti women and children, considering the programs that were cancelled and defunded since he came to power? If the interest is genuine, why limit the "championing" to the G8 when Canada is also hosting the G20, a forum that may be as good if not better, considering its larger and more diverse membership?

While still in opposition, Harper had committed to supporting women's rights, continuing Canada's commitments to Canadian women, and bringing in government accountability and transparency, but did he deliver once in power?

In spite of a surplus of $13.2 billion and a debt at its lowest level in 30 years, the new Conservative government was quick to axe a number of programs and initiatives, turning back the clock on women's advancements at the behest of Harper's religious social conservative base, mainly the old Reform-Alliance stock.

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Bahija Reghai is a Canadian Human Rights activist and a former president of the National COuncil on Canada-Arab Relations (NCCAR).
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