A lone topless protester appeared outside the offices of Cathy McLeod in the early afternoon on Friday, Oct. 16. The masked protester held up signs condemning the Harper government.
The protester was Ashley Gribble, part of the art collective group Power of the Pussy, mostly based in Vancouver. She appeared in front of both the MP and campaign offices early Friday afternoon. Gribble, the only member of the group in the region, said she was there to protest against Stephen Harper and his government’s treatment of women. Of local note, she was there in reaction to a spat between Kamloops City Councillor Donovan Cavers and Conservative MP candidate Cathy McLeod.
Earlier this week, Coun. Cavers and McLeod traded press releases condemning each other. After Cavers shared a VanCityBuzz link to a story about “Sluts Against Harper,” a campaign that promises to send nude photos to voters who sign up, McLeod demanded that Cavers apologize. Others, commenting on the story, even called for his resignation.
Cavers fired back by calling out the Conservative government’s record on women, saying that they have cut funding to social programs that help women. He cited agencies like ASK, which have to turn to fundraising rather than government support to fulfill their mandates. He also brought up the fact that the Conservative government refuses to conduct an inquiry into missing and murdered Aboriginal women. “It’s McLeod who owes women an apology,” Cavers said in his press release.
In response, Gribble called McLeod’s reaction “ridiculous.”
“[McLeod] was saying it was degrading to women. I laughed at that, because Harper has a very serious war on women,” she said, listing off things like missing and murdered Aboriginal women, Canada’s average wage gap, the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act, the removal of the long-form census and Canada’s world standing in gender equity.
“The Conservatives are not for women. She needs to be more ashamed of what her government has done to women across Canada than of Sluts Against Harper.”
Beyond the local issue, Gribble’s stance against Harper was broad.
“C-51, the TPP, there are just so many reasons to vote against Harper, to vote against the Conservatives,” she said. “Pretty much anything that Harper has approved that has stripped us of our privacy and our rights.”
Gribble, masked and topless, stood on the corner of 10th and Victoria for about 10 minutes before moving to McLeod’s downtown campaign office.
When asked why she had chosen to cover her face, Gribble said “We’re standing in solidarity with the hundreds of faceless victims of Harper’s government, like the missing and murdered indigenous women, trans people, Muslim women who have been under attack lately.”