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Letter: Bennett’s all-female news conference was justifiable

['Finance Minister Cathy Bennett speaks to reporters Monday about her own experiences with cyber bullying  and online harassment.']
['Finance Minister Cathy Bennett speaks to reporters Monday about her own experiences with cyber bullying and online harassment.']

I was very disappointed by a Dec. 24, 2016 Telegram column, “Newsroom bosses should have said no,” by Bob Wakeham.

 Wakeham was referring to a press conference called by finance minister Cathy Bennett which was restricted to female journalists only. Bennett wanted to draw attention to the personal vile and obscene attacks she had been subjected to from social media. A lot of the degenerate comments had to do with the fact of Bennett’s being female. Bennett was not discussing government business, she was discussing the fact of being female and the extreme abuse she was subjected to. To be clear, I am not a fan of Bennett and would not vote for her, however she had every right to bar male reporters from this particular press conference.
Wakeham, like many males of his vintage, does not seem to fully appreciate the struggles women have had to overcome to even get near a level playing field with men. Let me remind Wakeham of just a sampling of prejudicial behaviour that females in this country have to deal with.
1. There are more than 455 women’s shelters across Canada and on any given night 3,491 women and their 2,724 children sleep in these shelters because it isn’t safe at home.
2. According to the Canadian Women’s Foundation, half of all women in Canada have experienced at least one incident of physical or sexual abuse.
3. Prejudice against women is so pervasive in society that often it is taken as normal or right. The Catholic Church does not allow females to occupy any positions of power. This has resulted in not allowing women of the Catholic faith to practise birth control or avail of abortion if required.
These male Catholic views even influenced Canada as a whole in that artificial birth control was not legal in this country until 1969.
4. Women are attacked even when they join national government institutions. Currently, 400 female RCMP officers are suing the Mounties for allegedly ignoring sexual harassment.
5. As of November 2016, six per cent of women in the Canadian Armed Forces say they have been sexually assaulted in the last year.
I could go on by mentioning such things as the male found guilty of killing his Newfoundland wife with the blunt end of an axe, forcing his four-year-old son to watch, but after only 16 years in prison is now free to walk the streets of Canada just as if he killed a sparrow and not a woman. Yes, Canada really treasures its females. I could mention the polygamists in British Columbia who have forced girls as young as 12 to marry. I could mention the infamous Highway of Tears in B.C. where women and girls have gone missing for years.
Allowing a female minister to call a press conference including only female reporters where she can express her views and concerns of a personal nature regarding cyber bullying seems appropriate. Wakeham, on this issue, needed to look at the big picture and not be so concerned about his journalistic niceties.

Doug Smith
Grand Falls-Windsor   


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