A Canadian historian believes she is being censored by the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg.
Veronica Strong-Boag said she was asked to write a blog post on International Women's Day and her personal experiences for the museum’s website, but it was later taken down.
“I guess it was up for a couple of hours,” said Strong-Boag. “I was told it was brought down because communications at the museum had some problems with what it contained.”
'What they would like is some examples of the government’s anti-women’s views and efforts so I supplied a number of footnotes and examples, but then never heard from them again.' - Veronica Strong-Boag
Strong-Boag said she never spoke to the communications department at the museum directly, but another party told her the museum required more information before they were willing to publish the piece.
“I was told they were unhappy with it," said Strong-Boag.
In one portion of the blog post, Strong-Boag wrote, "In 2014 Canada’s Conservative government left its anti-woman record unmentioned as it dedicated IWD week to the ‘valuable contribution of women entrepreneurs.’"
Strong-Boag said, "What they would like is some examples of the government’s anti-women’s views and efforts so I supplied a number of footnotes and examples, but then never heard from them again basically and it wasn’t reposted.”
'I'm very disappointed'
Strong-Boag instead turned to the website ActiveHistory.ca to post the article.
“Clearly the blog, which became a short article for active history, it was time sensitive. It was written for 2014 particularly,” said Strong-Boag. “I wasn’t about to wait around until you know they decided or confirmed that they either weren’t going to publish it or that they were going to edit it. Because I wasn’t prepared to have it edited either.”
The version posted on ActiveHistory.ca provided context in the line with examples of what Strong-Boag considered anti-women's views, citing the withdrawal of plans for a national child care program and the denial of international funding for abortion as well as cuts to public services that employ and serve women.
“I am personally very concerned with the way this government treats women, and indeed, the more disadvantaged generally,” she said. “I'm very disappointed ... I think Canadians have every reason to expect a much better approach by a museum that is funded on our dollars to a significant degree.”
A spokesperson for the museum said guest blogs are not to be used as a political platform.
Email response to Strong-Boag from CMHR
Above all, we would like to express our gratitude for your willingness to assist us with our blog. We would like to take to provide you with an update on the review of your blog as to address misconceptions.
As Heather has shared with you, CMHR blogs are intended to consist of interesting short stories on human rights themes and topics, ideally from a first-person perspective, written primarily by CMHR staff as an opportunity to showcase the depth and diversity of their work and experiences. On occasion, we invite “guest bloggers” who have a connection to the Museum or to timely human rights topics. We haven’t invited many guest bloggers to date and the response to your blog internally has helped us to realize that we need to improve our process. An invitation to participate should make our objectives and expectations explicitly clear from the outset.
Your blog entry was reviewed internally and as “Editor in Chief”, I felt that it didn’t meet some of our objectives. There was an internal breakdown in process and the unfortunate result was that the blog was posted without full approval. It was removed quickly after posting but you had already been notified that it was live.
We will more clearly ask that guest blogs consist of anecdotal accounts of first-person experiences that illuminate human rights themes, and that they include “rich media” relevant to the story (photos, images). 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. We are still finalizing our internal process when it comes to having guest blogs and moving forward, we will provide concise guidelines regarding entries and allow enough time to allow for a better review cycle.
Thank you again for sharing your blog with us. We regret that we have missed an opportunity. We apologize for the confusion and hope that given that you have a clearer understanding of the intent of our blog, we can find a way to collaborate in the future. I’d be happy to discuss further, if you like.