Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION
Posted: 03/10/2014 12:05 PM | Comments: 0
Last Modified: 03/10/2014 2:48 PM | Updates
The Canadian Museum for Human Rights is weathering a censorship allegation after deleting a blog post it commissioned from a Tyrell medal-winning Canadian historian.
To coincide with International Women’s Day, the Winnipeg-based museum asked Veronica Strong-Boag, a historian specializing in the history of women and children in Canada, to pen a blog post in her area of expertise.
The post appeared on March 4, but was removed hours later after museum staff deemed a passage criticizing the federal Conservative government unacceptable.
The passage in question described the Conservatives as having an "anti-woman record." She said museum staff first asked her to back up that claim, but ultimately rejected a footnoted posting as a partisan statement.
In a letter to Strong-Boag, museum communications director Angela Cassie apologized for failing to explain what was expected from blog-post authors.
"We will more clearly ask that guest blogs consist of anecdotal accounts of first-person experiences that illuminate human rights themes," Cassie wrote. "We also make efforts to ensure that guest blogs not be used as, or be perceived as, a platform for political positions or partisan statements."
In a response letter, Strong-Boag called Cassie’s statement "naive and pedagogically unsound" for a museum "supposedly dedicated" to promoting human rights.
"It suggests that human rights are almost purely about entertainment and that authors can pretend impartiality in dealing with them," Strong-Boag wrote.
Strong-Boag said when she was asked to back up her "anti-woman" claim, she cited the Conservatives’ cancellation of plans for a national child care program, cuts to Status of Women Canada, the prohibition of civil servants taking pay equity complaints to the Human Rights Commission, the denial of international funding for abortion and cuts to public services that employ and serve women.
Strong-Boag said she was surprised when the post was still rejected.
"As long we indicate where our evidence comes from and provide access to that evidence, I can’t imagine there would be any difficulty," she said, describing the museum’s decision as an example of censorship.
Maureen Fitzhenry, the museum’s media relations manager, rejected the assertion the museum was impinging upon academic freedom.
-CMHR's Maureen Fitzhenry
"At a university, of course that’s a legitimate discussion. We are a museum. There’s a legitimate conversation about academic freedom among our own staff. In this case, it was a guest blog," she said.
"This isn’t a question of academic freedom, it’s a question of what we think we are wanting for our blog posts."
Strong-Boag is a visiting scholar at Trent University, a professor emerita at University of British Columbia, a former president of the Canadian Historical Association and the 2012 winner of the Tyrell medal for outstanding work in Canadian history.
The Canadian Museum for Human Rights, which is slated to open this fall, has weathered criticism from departed staff who claimed the museum’s content has been watered down to reflect more positive Canadian stories.
The museum has rejected that assertion as unbalanced.
Updated on Monday, March 10, 2014 at 2:48 PM CDT: corrects typo
Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories? Please use the form below and let us know.
Having problems with the form?Contact Us Directly
Police report drop in violent crime in Winnipeg
Pendant with boy's ashes stolen in Edmonton
Fringe flap gets ugly
Motorcycle crash kills Steinbach businessman
Manitoba Hydro signs power-sale deal with Saskatchewan
Winnipeg mayor lists Arizona home as a primary residence
Plane crash bodies removed from war zone
Alberta team probes shooting
Argentina zoo freezes polar bear move to Canada
Gaza rocket lands near Israel's main airport
Proposal to split up California stupid, self-serving
Border agency had outdated lookout flags
Ties that bind
Ottawa marchers denounce Middle East violence
UK announces inquiry for Russian spy death
Manitoba crews heading west to fight forest fires
Glover staffers remove ugly details from Wikipedia
Goodbye time for Grandma Elm
Nigerian president meets parents of abducted girls
Crash survivor drops suit against dead pilot
Florida community reeling after cops linked to KKK
Group of Manitoba teachers to visit Juno Beach for educational tour
Gimli Film Festival is a cinephile’s Emerald City
Russians fed conspiracy theories on Ukraine crash
McDonald's profit slips; US sales decline
Canada deports 20 human traffickers
Ryan Adams in town Oct. 12
UN chief believes Gaza fighting will end soon
'We did not know we'd lose': Pallister
Library honours Billy Joel with US pop music prize
Coke's sales miss estimates as Diet Coke flags
High-income wage earners cashing in on public housing
JetBlue pilot among 6 arrested in Boston drug bust
World must hold Putin to account
Moore than a feeling
'It was like they'd just shot a dog'
Big milestone for Britain's little prince
Manufacturing rebound seen