By Richard Bell
MLA Lenore Zann will be speaking at the Halifax rally on January 21st in support of the Women’s March on Washington. The following is an edited version of our conversation with Zann two weeks before the rally.
“I had originally toyed with idea of going down to Washington, taking a bus with other Canadian women and taking part in the march. But when I heard there was going to be a rally in Halifax, I was happy to be able to be with my sisters here in Nova Scotia.
“I have no doubt in my mind whatsoever that Trump is going to turn back the clock, and not only on women’s rights. His type of rhetoric, his tone, his attitude, the ideas he expresses, the people he’s put around him, I feel are dangerous. And if we’re not careful here in Canada, it could spread. I don’t want to see that happen.
“As a politician and as a feminist, I take a great interest in the presidential election in the U.S. I used to live there, in NY, Chicago, Cincinnati, and LA I do understand American politics. I was hoping for Bernie Sanders to win, but when he lost, I was still excited about seeing the first female president of the United States.”
“When people talk in a particular way like Trump, misogynistic, hateful, Islamaphobic, racist, it has a way of infecting the entire country, and other countries too. One of the things that’s really upset me in the last few days is the Congress trying to defund Planned Parenthood. Which is very scary because Planned Parenthood is how so many women get access to family planning and abortion services. The Republicans are starting to pick things apart, before Trump’s even taken the oath on January 20th. What’s it going to take? Some deaths? We’re going to be going back 40 years or more.
“I’m not normally a doomsday person but I’ll tell you, I am really really concerned about the pattern that I’m seeing, and what history teaches us about such patterns. I’m worried for our friends to the south. I don’t think they realize how bad it can be.
It really reminds me of the beginnings of Hitler in Germany, like Trump’s saying reporters are ‘the dirty press.’ That’s what they did in Italy. Next thing you know, media people are being threatened and jailed. Or Trump uses a tweet to attack the head of the steelworkers union, and the guy starts getting death threats.
“As a woman in politics, I’ve had my own baptism by fire when I first decided to run. This feeling of animosity, the vehemence, that comes out towards women when we get a step closer to the center of power, it’s amazing the pushback we get.
“I’m not sure sexism is any worse in the U.S. than it is here. Look at what happened when Atlantic Business Magazine’s editor Dawn Chafe did a January cover story on women in business. She thought the story would help normalize the idea of women in business leadership positions. She was really surprised by the hostile reactions she got from men about this story. Someone even proposed building a wall around businesswomen!”