Status of Woman Minister Ambrose urged to ‘Stand up for the girl-child in the womb’
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Status of Woman Minister Ambrose urged to ‘Stand up for the girl-child in the womb’

Peter Baklinski

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


OTTAWA, Ontario, 12 March, 2013 ( – Defenders of women around the country are urging Canadian Status of Women Minister Rona Ambrose to ‘stand up for women’ after she said that she would likely vote along with Prime Minister Harper’s cabinet against M-408, which condemns sex-selective abortion. Ambrose called the matter a "divisive issue.”

“Minister Ambrose: stand up for the girl-child in the womb,” said Angelina Steenstra, National Coordinator for Silent No More Awareness Campaign.

Minister Rona Ambrose“If I were speaking to Minister Ambrose personally, I would appeal to her sense of ‘what is right’, her sense of justice,” Steenstra told “I would encourage her to stand in the truth, stand in what she knows to be true, to go against the current mentality that either doesn’t want to engage or that doesn’t want to see the truth about what sex-selective abortion is really about.”

Steenstra said that the truth is that sex-selective abortions exist because of an already existing “oppressive mentality” towards women, which sees them as not having the same value and worth as men.

“To not stand up for the girl-child in the womb is to not stand up for women who have already been born,” she said. “We need to do something about the way women are perceived. She needs to be defended, she needs to be stood up for, she needs to be embraced. To not stand up for this, is to not stand up for the woman."

Conservative MP Mark Warawa (Langley), who tabled the motion, told that he believes there is nothing divisive about his motion at all, contrary to Ambrose’s statement.

“Ninety-two percent of Canadians in a poll by Environics indicated that they would like sex-selection discrimination against girls made illegal. I can’t think of anything else 92 percent of Canadians would agree on that strongly,” he said.

Warawa said that what is at issue with his motion is not abortion, or ultrasounds, but “discrimination against women and girls.”

Motion 408, 13 words in length, seeks a simple statement from Parliament: “That the House condemn discrimination against females, occurring through sex-selective pregnancy termination.” If passed, the motion would have no effect on Canadian law.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s office has said that the Conservative government will oppose M-408, because the government “is opposed to opening this debate.”

Minister Ambrose’s website states: “As the Minister for the Status of Women, she has worked tirelessly and courageously to address the problem of violence against women and girls.”

Alissa Golob, Campaign Life Coalition’s Youth Coordinator, called it “ironic” that Minister Ambrose would “let a man of power control her in what should be a free vote on an important women's issue."

"What is the point of having a Minister for the Status of Women if the position is dominated by a male authoritarian?” she said.

Diane Watts, researcher for REAL Women of Canada, encouraged Minister Ambrose to start “promoting the full participation of women and girls in Canadian society.

“Minister Ambrose claims that Canada led the international campaign to adopt the International Day of the Girl Child. She stated that ‘equal opportunity for girls is good for all of us’, but her ministry appears to be very selective in applying this,” she said.

Warawa told iPolitics last week that the Prime Minister’s cabinet would contradict the government’s own declarations if it votes against his motion.

Last June, the CBC conducted a hidden-camera investigation that exposed a majority of “entertainment” ultrasound businesses willing to reveal a baby’s sex in the early stages of pregnancy, when an abortion is easier to obtain. At that time, commenting on the legality of sex-selective abortions in Canada, Conservative Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq told the CBC that "we totally condemn that ... it is unacceptable." Minister Ambrose also said at that time that “we don't tolerate discrimination against girls and women.”

Warawa said that his motion is simply a summary of what these government officials and all the national parties had said about sex-selective abortion last summer. “I’m still very optimistic that people will do the right thing, that the cabinet will support M-408, because our government has a position that we ‘condemn the practice of sex selection,’” he said.

Warawa said that anybody who has the “value of human rights” would see that “sex selection is wrong” and see his motion as advancing respect for women.

“Discrimination doesn’t start when they’re teenagers or when women are forty. Women, throughout their lives, fight discrimination. And the fact is, discrimination starts before birth.”

“Canada is known as a leader in human rights. But if we fail to represent 92 percent of Canadians here, if we fail to speak for the rights of women — and the discrimination starts before birth, and it carries on throughout their lives — if we fail on this because of a noisy 1 or 2 percent, then we’ve failed in our responsibility to stand up for the rights of women and girls,” he said.

“Minister Ambrose, up to this point, you have been a great advocate for women,” said Angelina Steenstra. “Please don’t turn your heart away from this issue because of political reasons or whatever the pressure may be, because if you turn your heart away, you abandon women. Sex-selective abortion is the greatest violence against women.”

Motion 408 is scheduled to be debated in the House of Commons on March 28. Warawa said that he is offering a “briefing session” on Wednesday March 27 to all MPs and their staff to “get properly briefed on what M-408 is all about.”

Contact information:

Minister Rona Ambrose
Ph: (780) 495-7705
Status of Women Canada
Toll-Free: 1-866-902-2719

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