Kandace Hagen is campaigning for a youth leadership award on a pretty awesome platform: extending abortion access to all Canadians. But now anti-choicers have started a campaign to sabotage her candidacy.
According to Island Edition, Hagen is currently the second-place contestant in an online competition for a $1,000 award, sponsored by the Atlantic Council for International Cooperation. Contestants win the award by getting the most pledges, which are more than just votes — they're promises to complete some sort of service. Hagen is a co-founder of the Prince Edward Island Reproductive Rights Organization — PEI is currently the only Canadian province without an abortion provider, so residents have to travel to the mainland (across North America's most expensive toll bridge) if they want to terminate their pregnancies. Hagen has been working to help women there access reproductive care, and she says that if she wins, she'll use the money to help PEI women who need to travel for abortions.
The P.E.I. Right to Life Association, however, doesn't want this to happen. Board member Ann Marie Tomlins sent the following email to her associates:
Kandice Hagan (sic), who is trying to improve access to abortion in PEI is in second place. Tara Brinston is in first place. Please have all the youth you know sign in and vote for TARA BRINSTON (sic). We want to make sure that Kandice (sic) doesn't win this award for youth leadership. The vote is close so please send this to all the youth and youth groups you know.
Tara Brinston seems like a worthy competitor — she's an advocate for the rights of the intellectually disabled. But Tomlins doesn't care what she does — all that matters is that she's not Hagen. This isn't in the spirit of a competition that's supposed to celebrate young people's positive contributions — basically, Tomlins is encouraging anti-choicers to band together for the express purpose of taking Hagen down. If the PEI Right to Life Association wanted to play fair, they could've fielded their own anti-choice candidate for the award. As it stands, if Brinston wins she may well feel a little strange knowing that most of her supporters didn't give a shit about her actual work. But the media attention Tomlins's email has generated may have had the opposite effect she intended: now the issue of abortion access on PEI is on a lot of people's minds. And should those people now wish to pledge for Hagen, they can do so here.
P.E.I. Right to Life board member encourages supporters to vote against Island woman [Island Edition]
Pledge with Kandace [Active-8]