WHERE WE ARE NOW:

A joint statement by Margaret Atwood and Susan Swan.

March 22, 2018

We are making this statement on a neutral platform because we wish to shift this conversation to a more constructive place.


Over the last sixteen months, we have talked with and listened to a number of younger women about the problems they face in the workplace, and in universities, and we are grateful to those who respectfully reached out to us.

Contrary to untruths that have been repeated about us on numerous occasions, we did not know Steven Galloway then and do not now, nor, we believe, do most of the signatories on the UBC Accountable website. We understand that some people interpreted that website as an attempt to discredit the complainants; this was not our intention when we signed, nor is it our belief that it was the intention of the other signatories.

We regret any perception of harm or silencing effects that this decision may have had on other complainants in Canada, as we regret the misconceptions about and attacks upon signatories of the Letter. We are sorry for any chilling effects the Letter may have had on sexual assault complainants who were considering coming forward.

We trust that in due course the University will see fit to do the right thing and issue an apology to the many writers, teachers, students and other individuals involved in the case. As a result of the University's prolonged lack of the transparency owed to its funders – both donors and the taxpaying public – and its opaque, divisive, and misleading communications, many of these have suffered silencing, loss of employment or the threat of it, and damaging attempts at character assassination and career destruction.

All the facts regarding the charges against Steven Galloway are not yet known, nor are the reasons for which the higher levels at UBC chose to violate the right to fair process by handling the matter in public before there was an inquiry. However, we are interested in procedural fairness for all involved in any case, knowing – as many have now said – that when failures of due process and/or procedure occur, both the complainants and the defendant are often vilified and mistreated and future cases may suffer.

The rights to fair process are upheld in the constitutions of democratic countries, as well as in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Women's rights are human rights: without support of these basic principles, women too will be without rights.

Finally, we wish to state our support for the fight led by many women, LGBTQ activists and people of colour for the rights of all to be respected in the work place, whether it be an office or a classroom as well as in society at large. We applaud their bravery.

To read more about our support for systemic change in the treatment and prevention of sexual violence and harassment in conjunction with fair process for all, please visit "Margaret Atwood to Donate to Sexual Violence Fund” in The Globe and Mail.

Signed:

Susan Swan and Margaret Atwood