Potential participants

CAFE is in the news again – the Canadian Association for Equality, you know, founded by Justin “not THAT Justin” Trottier, formerly the ED of CFI-Canada. Why is it in the news again? Because it’s been discovered that it cited women’s rights organizations on its application to the Canada Revenue Agency for charitable status, which it got.

…when the Canadian Association for Equality (CAFE), a self-described “men’s issues” organization, applied to the Canada Revenue Agency for charitable status last year, it listed the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF), Egale Canada, and Status of Women Canada as potential participants in its “regular panel discussion series” on women’s and men’s issues. The CRA granted CAFE charitable status in March, 2014.

There’s just one problem: none of the groups listed has ever been involved with CAFE.

The executive directors of Egale and LEAF said they had no knowledge of ever being approached by the organization, and said they would not work with CAFE if they were asked. Before NOW contacted them, neither organization had any knowledge that CAFE had listed them on its application.

A spokesperson for Status of Women Canada, the federal agency, told NOW in an email that none of its representatives had ever been involved in a CAFE event.

Sneaky, eh? Deceptive? Sly? Less than forthright?

LEAF’s executive director Diane O’Reggio was shocked to learn CAFE had associated itself with her organization, which has been defending women’s legal rights for almost thirty years.

“We’re concerned that this organization has used our name in this manner,” said O’Reggio. “We absolutely are not associated with this group and what they stand for.”

“We’re obviously a feminist equality organization and we think the beliefs that they espouse are absolutely in contradiction and opposite to the work of what our organization does.”

O’Reggio said it was “very disingenuous” for CAFE to suggest to the CRA it had a working relationship with LEAF, and she’s concerned the men’s group used her organization in order to gain charitable status.

Helen Kennedy of Egale Canada suggests that CAFE is trying to paper over the nature of the group by using these names.

The group also claimed it was planning to work with university scholars from women’s studies departments, and specifically named Professor Sarita Srivastava, an associate sociology professor at Queen’s who studies anti-racist challenges to Canadian feminist groups. On its application CAFE said it was “currently” setting up a panel discussion to include Srivastava.

Reached by email, Srivastava told NOW that she was “stunned” to learn her name was on the form, which was date-stamped in a National Capital Region mailroom on July 26, 2013. According to Srivastava, more than four months before that she turned down an invitation from the group to speak about misogyny as part of a panel discussion on “misandry,” the highly disputed term men’s rights activists use to describe systemic anti-male discrimination.

On the other hand she also says she didn’t actually spell out that she would never work with the group, so it’s possible that they could have intended to invite her to future events.

Yes it is, and that’s where the slyness comes in.

CAFE also listed only more benign lectures and books on its application, leaving off the overtly anti-feminist items. That looks perilously close to lying by omission.

NOW emailed a list of questions about this story to several of CAFE’s email accounts and to its founder, Justin Trottier. Trottier isn’t included among the members of CAFE’s leadership on the group’s website, but his signature appears on the CRA application’s supporting documents and he is named in the application as the organization’s chair. Despite repeated attempts, NOW did not receive a response.

It has proven difficult to get Trottier to speak on the record about the group he created. In a strange phone interview with CAFE last month, a man who would only give his name as “Justin” refused to reveal his full identity to NOW and claimed he was merely “working behind the scenes as a volunteer.” He could then be heard feeding answers to CAFE spokesperson Denise Fong, who is Trottier’s fiancée.

During that interview Fong and “Justin” also denied CAFE had any association with a Voice for Men (AVFM), an online U.S. misogyny group, even though the CAFE website was promoting an AVFM conference at the time.

Justin Trottier is the gift that keeps on giving.


  1. says

    ” the highly disputed term men’s rights activists use to describe systemic anti-male discrimination”

    No, no, no.

    “the term ‘men’s rights activists’ use to describe highly disputed systemic anti-male discrimination”

  2. says

    Directly on topic: I’m thinking the info in this article might be good to send to the Charities Directorate, along with information about the group’s true ideology and association with AVfM, in order to request that they re-evaluate granting CAFE charitable status.

  3. says

    When I hear people in the MRM complain, I do hear them complaining about some valid things to be looked at when it comes to gender and society with respect to men (the lack of data on men as sexual violence victims and definitions of rape that don’t include ways that men are raped for example). The problem is most of the time when I see them talk about those things in comments on articles and Facebook, these men are using these problems to batter down examples of places where women are having problems. It’s a screwed up combination of of “me too!” combined with a strange view that these issues are a zero sum game which is against the facts when I actually see feminism inform research when it comes to men and gender.

    Women did not get the progress that they did by beating down men’s issues, or trying to distract from men’s problems. They created a social structure that looked at gender and sex more broadly, got attention for their issues on their own merits (with social events and activities meant to draw attention to their messages), and engaged in activism for their issues. The only subversion and suppression going on was targeted at social structures that only benefited some men and were indicators of larger problems in social patterns that produced the structures.

    Groups like this need to organize about their issues on their own terms, not shove their issues in spaces where the subject is an issues that affects women as a distraction and suppression. They need to organize and carry out their own independent campaigns to draw attention to their problems on their own merits, instead of just playing politics and acting like their opposite gendered counterpart is an enemy that needs to be defeated. They need to have open and honest communication with people who have been doing this sort of work for more than a century (and who can even help them with the part of the work that has already been done in research informed by feminist ideas), not steal their work and social connections in order to fraudulently gain social capital for governmental recognition. This is not trying to help men, this is misplaced social warfare by people who feel embattled and can’t recognize what is actually hurting them.

    I actually hope that the talk that CAFE wanted to have actually happens. I would be very interested in the substance offered.

  4. says

    Groups like this need to organize about their issues on their own terms,

    I think that what reasonable people would deem to be worthwhile issues, are not the issues of groups like this at all. They just use those issues as a smokescreen to gain legitimacy (e.g. the aforementioned charitable status). Their object isn’t to improve things for men but to obstruct feminism in any way they can. It’s a little bit like those conservative religious “real feminist” groups that don’t actually want to further the equality of women, but wish to bolster traditional patriarchal power structures. Telling them they’re not actually advancing the cause of feminism by saying that wives should submit to their husbands is kind of pointless.

  5. cuervocuero says

    I wonder what kind of snortling and giggling went on as CAFE personages ‘who are not Justin Trottier’ wrote the submission.

    The fact the group defends its submission by focusing on ‘potential’ alliances and speakers is the kind of rules lawyering one leaves gaming groups over to avoid using a die 20 as a sling pellet into the centre of a sophistically smug nyah nyah.

    They’re winning the point and exposing their overall battle plan…which seems to have nothing to do with actual men’s issues so much as getting money for preaching, the sermon being blamestorming women who won’t have sex with them, rinse and repeat.

  6. Stacy says

    I think that what reasonable people would deem to be worthwhile issues, are not the issues of groups like this at all.

    My understanding is that groups that legitimately work on men’s issues avoid the terms “MRM” and “MRA” because they don’t want to be associated with them. And for good reason–the so-called “Men’s Rights Movement” is mostly about trashing feminism and justifying male privilege.

  7. says

    @ Ibis3, Let’s burn some bridges 5

    I’m hoping that some of them and fence sitters are reachable. I still manage optimism, but my perspective in this is not so unpleasant as others.

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