When the Equality Section (Section 15) in the Charter of Rights came into effect, in April 1985, a handful of feminist lawyers regarded this development as a golden opportunity to push through changes in the law by way of the courts. In doing so, they hoped to bypass having their controversial proposals debated and voted down by Parliament. They understood (as did the pro-life movement at that time) that, under the Charter, the Supreme Court of Canada’s decisions would become the final legal authority.
That same month, these women formed an organization called the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF), which became the legal arm of the radical feminist movement. These feminist lawyers pretended that LEAF would be addressing issues on behalf of all Canadian women, whom they claimed were “disadvantaged” by the patriarchal society. This small handful of women, therefore, assigned to themselves the role of official spokespersons for all women in Canada. This was an insult. No single organization or ideology can represent the views of all women, any more than a single organization can represent the views of all men. Women’s opinions vary, as do those of men, according to their differing social, cultural, educational, religious, and economic backgrounds.
Government Funding of LEAF
LEAF needed money to carry out its plans. As a result, it turned to the Women’s Program in the federal government’s Status of Women agency for funding. The latter enthusiastically provided LEAF with funding. It gave LEAF an initial grant of $18,009 to organize its first meeting, and later that same year (1985), it gave LEAF an additional grant of $101,250 to cover its operating expenses for that year. This was only the beginning.
In the past three decades, LEAF has received millions of tax dollars from the Status of Women. Between 2000 and 2008 it received $711,201 from them. LEAF also secured funding from the Ontario government in the amount of $162,277 (later increased to a million-dollar grant). In addition to these grants, LEAF’s West Coast branch received further millions of dollars from both the federal and B.C. governments, as well as from the Law Foundation of B.C. In 2011, the West Coast branch of LEAF received $300,000 from the Status of Women. In 2016, LEAF headquarters in Toronto continued to receive regular funding from the Status of Women. In 2019, the Status of Women gave LEAF in Toronto $880,000 to develop a new five-year feminist strategic litigation plan. It seems that with these large grants the federal Liberal government is using LEAF to make left-wing, “progressive” changes that it would have difficulty pushing through Parliament.
LEAF’s Court Interventions
LEAF never seems to lack laws or regulations to challenge. LEAF intervened in 2019 before the Supreme Court of Canada to obtain a ruling that misogynistic views are now to be considered hate speech. In another recent case before the Supreme Court of Canada, LEAF succeeded in arguing that voyeurism should be recognized as an attack on women’s sexual integrity and, therefore, should have increased penalties.
The Court Challenges Program
The lavish funds LEAF has received from the Status of Women is not its only source of tax dollars. Over the years, LEAF has been generously funded by the Court Challenges Program to cover the cost of its litigation. The Court Challenges Equality Program is a biased program, funding only left-wing “progressive” litigation. It has been operated by special interest groups, such as feminists and homosexual activists, to provide them with funds for their litigation. By 2006, the Program had funded 140 legal challenges by LEAF.
This generous government funding placed LEAF in the enviable position of dominating the legal challenges made under the Charter, allowing it to distort the interpretation of the Charter by a Court sympathetic to its arguments. Many of these Supreme Court decisions did not benefit “women”, as most women disagree with LEAF’s positions.
LEAF and REAL Women of Canada
During the course of its litigation, it is significant that LEAF wanted only its own legal arguments to be heard before the Court and attempted to stamp out any other women’s views. In the first important abortion case, in 1988 (Borowski), the Supreme Court was asked to determine whether the unborn child was a legal person. Lawyer Mary Eberts, one of the LEAF’s co-founders and chief litigators, sent a registered letter to REAL Women demanding that it report to her office in Toronto to be cross-examined. Ms. Eberts wanted to determine whether REAL Women was qualified to intervene in the case. REAL Women immediately forwarded this presumptuous letter to the Registrar of the Supreme Court of Canada. Both LEAF and REAL Women were duly summoned to appear before Mr. Justice Antonio Lamer (as he then was) on May 19, 1988. Judge Lamer was visibly angered by LEAF’s arrogance in trying to stop the intervention of another organization, which he regarded as repugnant to the Court. He reproached LEAF for its actions and ended the session by granting REAL Women status as an intervener.
LEAF need not have worried about REAL Women’s presence before the courts. It rapidly became obvious that the Court regarded LEAF as the only authentic voice of women and eagerly accepted most of its arguments, despite the fact that REAL Women continued to appear before the Court in as many cases as its limited funds permitted. REAL Women provided the Court with sound arguments based on reliable case law, which leftist judges chose to ignore in their single-minded attempt to change Canada’s social values. The objective of REAL Women in doing so was to establish as a matter of historical record, that LEAF’s views were not representative of all women. Further, REAL Women’s presence prevented the Court from defending, in the future, its disgraceful bias by arguing that no other perspectives had been presented. The Court did have other perspectives to consider through REAL Women’s arguments, which it chose to ignore.
LEAF and Abortion
In the many cases on the abortion issue that were brought before the Supreme Court of Canada, LEAF repeatedly argued that the unborn child was not a legal person, but merely a part of a woman’s body. This argument by LEAF even prevailed in a case where a baby was caught in the birth canal just minutes before birth. In each of the abortion cases, LEAF argued that no one should control a woman’s sexual and reproductive life and that a pregnant woman did not owe a duty of care to the child she was carrying. LEAF argued that to conclude otherwise would be to control women’s lives, requiring mandatory medication, blood transfusions, and surgical interventions to the woman’s disadvantage during her pregnancy. LEAF’s argument was contrary to modern scientific and medical knowledge, that has established that the unborn child is a separate human being from its mother, since it has separate DNA, blood system, and organs.
Other LEAF Cases
LEAF has argued many other cases before the courts on other subjects. It supports the legal protection of sex workers (which ironically include not only prostitutes, but their pimps as well), special protection for homosexuals and transgenders (gender identity and expression), the rejection of conscience rights for physicians in physician-assisted suicide, and the rejection of the Charter right to freedom of religion in the B.C. Court of Appeal. In the case of Christian Trinity Western University, which proposed to establish a law school, LEAF argued that the Community Covenant required by all students and faculty to abstain from sexual activity before marriage, which it defined as the union between a man and a woman, was discriminatory against homosexuals and lesbians. The Supreme Court of Canada agreed with LEAF.
Members of LEAF Appointed to the Judiciary
A number of LEAF’s activist feminist lawyers have been appointed to the judiciary. These judges do not provide fair, impartial decisions based on the law and precedent, but have handed down decisions attempting to transform society based on their own extremist ideology. The decisions of these judges indicate it would be a misfortune for individuals with traditional values to appear before them. Some of these extremist judges are as follows:
- Rosalie Abella, appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada in 2004 from the Ontario Court of Appeal. According to LEAF’s documents, Abella was a financial contributor to LEAF. Abella has made a number of disgraceful decisions based on her ideology, not the law. She arbitrarily determined in 1998 that a homosexual couple were spouses under the Income Tax Act, even though the Act stated specifically that a spouse was defined as a member of the opposite sex. She made this ruling despite a previous ruling by the Supreme Court of Canada (later reversed) that defined marriage as being between a man and a woman. In 1995, she reduced the age of consent for homosexual youth from 18 to 14 years of age, arguing that the higher age of consent discriminated against homosexual youth, denying them their sexual orientation. Abella failed to comprehend in that case that the purpose of setting the age of consent at 18 years was to protect minors from exploitation by way of prosecuting the adults involved with them sexually. In 2015, she also declared that public service employees, including those in essential services, had a constitutional right to strike. This meant police officers, firefighters, airport traffic controllers, and healthcare workers cannot be ordered back to work. This decision was a triumph of her ideology, superseding public safety and common sense.
- Sheilah Martin, appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada, December 2017. She received her PhD in law with a dissertation dealing with abortion rights for women. She taught feminist law at the University of Calgary before her appointment and was a litigator for LEAF.
- Lynn Smith, appointed to the Supreme Court of B.C., former chairperson of the board of LEAF and senior litigator. She was the judge who, in 2012, first legalized physician-assisted suicide in Canada.
- Francesca Marzari, appointed to the Supreme Court of B.C. In 2019, she concluded that a father resisting his 14-year-old daughter’s transition to a boy constituted “family violence”, and ordered him to stop doing so. She also ordered him to use his daughter’s chosen male name, and to refer to her only with male pronouns.
LEAF, rolling in millions of tax dollars over the years, has undermined the social values of this country by way of the courts. LEAF is a danger to the life and health of Canadian society.