November 17, 2014 6:05 pm
Updated: November 17, 2014 6:11 pm

Controversial centre for men opens in Toronto amid criticism

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WATCH: Christina Stevens reports on the new and controversial centre for men in Toronto. 

TORONTO – A controversial men’s rights centre opened in Toronto Monday amid criticism from feminists who say the organization is more concerned about attacking feminism than promoting the health of men.

“I think they work really hard to discredit the feminist movement and to kind of take back a lot of the gains that women have made,” Anne Theriault, a feminist blogger in Toronto said in an interview Monday.

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The Canadian Centre for Men and Families (CCMF) – the first centre in Toronto dedicated to helping men – opened Monday on Carlton Street.

It’s being called a “social service facility” that serves a hub for “men’s and boy’s issues and for the health and well-being of boys more generally,” according to the group’s director Justin Trottier, who spoke to Global News prior to the centre’s launch.

The group offers in-house services like counselling for men and boys as well as education resources about suicide, family law issues, and abuse.

The controversial Canadian Association for Equality (CAFE) is the group behind the launch.

Theriault says she has no problem with shelters for men or counselling services for men and boys but say’s CAFE has a “pretty poor track record.”

“They’re basically an anti-feminist organization and they’re kind of masquerading this as ‘oh well, it’s just for disenfranchised men’ when they kind of have an ulterior agenda,” she said.

WATCH: The director of the controversial new men’s centre in Toronto explains his organization’s goals, while a feminist writer says they have ulterior motives.

But Trottier insists his group is inclusive to everyone – male or female.

“I think the centre’s time has come. I think there are some real unmet needs in our community that men and boys are facing. And I think that our hope over time is to catalyze a really fundamental change in how society views men, boys and masculinity more generally,” Trottier said.

“And on the flip side of that, to change the attitude men and boys have to society. Right now men and boys are far less likely than women to seek out the services they need. And if they seek out those services, unfortunately they’re less likely to find them.”

But the group has been the centre of controversy before – highlighted by a CAFE-sponsored talk by Dr. Warren Farrell, an American men’s rights activist at the University of Toronto in 2012.

The talk drew dozens of protesters who claimed Farrell was spreading hate speech and tried to convince men to not partake in the talk. Eventually, police had to be called in to monitor the situation.

A YouTube video of the incident went viral.

Trottier was hesitant to comment on Farrell’s speech during an interview with Global News Monday. He also said his opponents are not representative of everyone, adding there were a number of women who support the centre, including some on the board of directors.

“There are also lots of women out there who not only have support for us but they’ve reached out to work with us,” he said.

“To single out a few opponents that we have, which any new movement is likely to attract, I just don’t think that’s fair, I don’t think that’s really representative of the response that we’re getting.”

– With files from Christina Stevens 

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