Dear Friends, Supporters, Allies and Donors,
We have been amazed by the speed of developments in the campaign over the last several months. This has meant that we have been tardy with keeping you updated – but it is for the best possible reasons. Here are some headlines of our recent achievements – read further down for more details of the most exciting developments in what is proving to be a wild ride.
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Prince Edward Island ENACTED INTO LAW our ‘model Bill’ banning the misuse of NDAs on May 17th 2022 The FIRST place in the world to have such strong anti NDA legislation.
TWO more provinces – Nova Scotia and Manitoba have also introduced the Bill. We expect these to come back to the legislatures in the Fall and hope to see these also passed into law.
Next stop British Colombia – and we are in very encouraging talks with the Federal members about adopting our Model bill at a federal level.
One of our amazing volunteers Shannon Hancock BROKE her NDA in June – so far no retaliation which highlights the bad optics if companies publically pursue their victims. Bravo Shannon – a video is in the works, stay tuned.
Popular CTV show W5 made a documentary about the campaign called “HUSH MONEY” which has brought in a lot of new testimonies and contacts from individuals who have signed NDAs. The link is below
67 Universities have now signed our pledge to NEVER USE NDAs now or in the future. Protecting over a MILLION students from the threat of NDAs
TWO private members bills inspired by our ‘model bill’ have been tabled in the House of Commons – one by Conservative MP Maria Miller and the second by Layla Moran Liberal MP
Jess Phillips Labour MP recently debated amending the freedom of speech bill in higher education to ban NDAs siting our campaign and bill.
Our friend from #ME TU Claire Laycock BROKE her NDA with her union TSSA – the super injunction they applied for was refused and the TUC are now in talks to make change – no retaliation to Claire. Watch her breaking her NDA lower down.
CBMS became aware of several unethical NDAs at CH4 & ITN news so we & PTS (Pregnant Then Screwed) opened a petition signed by nearly 30,000 people to release employees of CH4 and ITN. The head of ITN Deborah Turness who has refused to release them is about to take over BBC news. You can add your name to the petition at the bottom to help the fight.
CANADA IN DETAIL
As you know our campaign is focused on legislative change, CBMS is using a “Model Bill” (originally written for the Irish Parliament , see below, and progressing there) to ban the misuse of NDAs in discrimination, harassment, bullying and abuse cases. The Model Bill requires that for an NDA to be enforceable, it must meet all of the following conditions:
-Be requested by the victim
-Who is under no duress
-Who must fully understand all the implications of signing
-Who must receive independent legal advice
-Cannot endanger the safety another person now or in the future (an inevitable consequence of the NDAs we are talking about)
In addition the Bill specifies a number of individuals to whom access can never be denied by an NDA including police, spiritual advisors, psychologists, elders, lawyers and others.
Naturally we anticipate that the Model Bill will incorporate jurisdiction-specific changes, but this basic structure is critical.
On May 17, Prince Edward Island became the first Canadian province to bring the Bill into law (having been passed unanimously 6 months earlier). Congratulations to the amazing work of Lynne Lund, Deputy Leader of the Green Party, and her team who built consensus in the legislature and support in the community to make this happen!
Our CBMS one-minute video celebrating this event is here if you would like to enjoy it.
In April, the Bill was introduced in two more Canadian provinces – in Manitoba by Liberals (led by Dougald Lamont) and in Nova Scotia by the NDP. The Minister of Justice in Manitoba has now sent the issue of NDA abuse to the Manitoba Law Reform Commission, indicating that the government is taking this seriously. In Nova Scotia, we are in discussions with the Minister for Women about supporting the Bill when it comes up for debate in the Fall.
In British Columbia, the AG has referred the issue to policy counsel who are working up research and speaking with other jurisdictions to determine BC’s approach. We are talking to the Deputy AG and the Secretary for Gender Equity about supporting legislation and there are very positive signs.
Finally, the federal government, which employs about half a million Canadians and additionally regulates federal agencies, is in discussions with the campaign about possible amendments to existing federal legislation on sexual harassment and employment equity which will incorporate a ban on the misuse of NDAs. Again, the level of interest is high and we are encouraged by our discussions with the various ministries involved.
To watch the W5 show about the campaign, click here
HOCKEY CANADA blasted into the news with the revelation that a settlement was made with a woman gang raped by a group of hockey players in a London Ontario hotel. Following an investigation she was required to sign an NDA – described by Hockey Canada’s lawyers as her “wanting” to protect the identities of the perpetrators. Four major sponsors have now withdrawn their support and Hockey Canada have been called to Parliament to testify. See links below.
Julie was interviewed by CTV News twice and you can watch here:
and again here
UK (& Ireland) IN DETAIL
In February this year we teamed up with the Department for Education to design and implement a Pledge for Universities and all institutions of Higher Education to agree not to use NDAs with students or faculty members going forward. This is a huge step in the culture change needed whilst we are waiting for legislation to be implemented.
To date 67 Universities have signed the pledge including 3 Oxbridge Colleges (and Cardiff Metropolitan University which although our Pledge doesn’t officially cover Wales, is still making the promise!). Congratulations to the 11 junior common rooms who have passed motions for their colleges to sign the pledge.
A huge thank you to student group It Happens Here, #NotOnMyCampus group, and People and Planet among the leading student organizations who have been working on the Pledge with us, and to the individual activists and junior common rooms that are working hard to promote a more transparent and accountable culture.
CBMS are also in talks with Universities Wales and Scotland and their relevant ministers to agree wording for their pledges – by popular demand.
Please check our list of Unis that have signed the pledge https://www.cantbuymysilence.com/uni-pledge
If yours is not there, please consider sending a letter to the VC asking them to sign https://cantbuymysilence.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/Letter-to-VC-PDF.pdf
As well as the private members bill tabled by Maria Miller MP last September, a second private members bill to ban the use of NDAs at universities was presented by Layla Moran, Liberal Democrat MP for Oxford. She presented a great debate with Michelle Donelan, Minister for Higher Education and also brought up the issue of the misuse of NDAs at universities at PMQ’s directly to Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab who promised to attend to the issue… (although he infamously refused to release a woman form an NDA he holds)
Watch the Westminster Hall debate
Jess Phillips has also been very vociferous in her support of the campaign’s pledge for Universities and recently suggested the Freedom of Speech bill for Higher Education should be amended to ban NDAs – this seems like an obvious implementation of the FoS bill so watch closely..
TRADE UNIONS and #ME TU
We have been working with several brilliant grass roots union groups and were part of the launch of #Me TU representing women throughout the trade unions who have suffered from sexual harassment, abuse and discrimination. They have been doing incredible work fighting back to end gender and race based violence and discrimination so that all members can be safe and thrive.
You can see some of their launch here on Reel News
One of their very brave members who we have been working with chose to break her NDA (WATCH HERE) which she had been forced/required to sign with her union, the TSSA (a union for employees in transport and travel services)
As soon as this was live online, the TSSA tried to super-injunct (prohibit) Reel News and Claire personally – someone who was just trying to warn others about sexual assault from a senior TUC official. However we then saw a fantastic development – the court threw out the application to injunct Reel News, meaning Claire’s testimony will be available now online without threat and for ever – and shortly afterwards TSSA dropped their application against Claire.
This has led to an independent inquiry. Not only does this show that change is happening on a cultural level but those who have been gagging victims are now weighing up the the optics of pursuing victims and seeing they are more risky than dealing with the problem at the root….
However there is still a long way to go but we applaud warriors like Claire who are calling the bluff of NDAs
Claire Laycock speaks about being freed from injunction on 25 May.
CHANNEL 4/ITN NDAs
We are constantly (sadly) contacted by people who are in horrendous situations either negotiating settlements which contain aggressive non-disclosure clauses, or suffering the many mental, emotional and physical repercussions of having signed an NDA. We are working tirelessly to help these individuals but the best thing to do first is go to NDA info on our website where you will find lots of helpful advice.
One of these group cases turned out to be a really worrying case of public interest. It came to our attention that ITN (who supply news for independent newsrooms like CH4 and 5 as well as ITV) had some really disturbing NDA cases. Because the company is led by Deborah Turness (formally of CBS in the US which has released all employees from NDAs), we believed that she would want to know what has and is going on at ITN. However, even with Maria Miller MP calling her to account, nothing happened.
CBMS then joined forces with the incredible Joelie Brearly, founder of Pregnant Then Screwed, and with terrific press coverage from The Times, The Guardian, The Observer and Broadcast, and support from some very influential women including Gretchen Carlson and Carrie Gracie (see below), we started a petition asking for the release of those under these NDAs. This has been signed by nearly 30,000 people so far.
Deborah Turness is now moving to take the helm at BBC news – making her one of the most influential news executives in the world – yet she refuses to release her employees from NDAs hiding gross misconduct. Watch this space, we are still fighting….
When journalists are gagged we are in great risk of access to the truth. See our open letter to Channel 4 from these women below:
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND
Lastly for those who remember the first newsletter and the model bill we launched with Senator Lynne Ruane’s (amendment to the Employment Equality Bill to restrict the use of NDAs) This has now gone through the Upper house with full cross party support and is now about to go to Committee stage in July. With no Government opposition we see this Bill as very likely to pass. It has been the “model Bill” for the Canadian and English propositions so we are very proud to have been so involved in its creation and it is ultimately the root of all the incredible successes we have listed above –kickstarting the University sector and public opinion – so a huge THANK YOU to Senator Ruane who is a true trailblazer.
These are the big picture developments only of course. Behind the headlines, there are many individual stories emerging and we are receiving more and more support. The campaign is made possible by our amazing volunteers in both Canada and the UK who are helping us with social media, story wrangling, research, video and editing assistance, and many other tasks. A big thank you to them, and to the amazing Stacey Buchholzer, our campaign coordinator. A special shout out to Liz LeClair, a professional fundraiser and also a person with personal experience of an NDA and passion about this campaign, who has been helping us with our dire need to try to get some fundraising organized. Please donate here if you possibly can!
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