NewsTue Apr 12, 2005 - 12:15 pm EST
Bank of Montreal Caves to Media Pressure and Cancels 15 Year Old MasterCard Affinity Program With Pr
TORONTO, April 12, 2005 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The Bank of Montreal has officially declared that it will cease to support a pro-life affinity MasterCard when the agreement expires on July 2006 because of a “small number” of complaints.
The BMO President and CEO of the Personal and Commercial Client Group, Robert W. Pearce, replied to a Globe and Mail article entitled “When affinity is really an affront” (April 2). The letter to the editor, entitled “end of an association” and dated Saturday, April 9, 2005 stated that “As a commercial enterprise, Bank of Montreal does not want to be involved in a controversy over what so many consider to be personal and private decisions. Unfortunately, providing a strictly commercial affinity card to LifeCanada (a card we have provided for the past 15 years) has created the false perception recently that we may, in some manner, endorse a particular point of view. From the outset, that has never been our intention. We always have remained neutral on this issue.”
The letter then indicated that “Following a review of our affinity-card policy, we have decided to end this particular commercial relationship at the conclusion of our contractual agreement.”
While the reaction of BMO seems to indicate reaction to a significant complaint a Canadian Press article dated April 9 quoted BMO spokesman Ralph Marranca as saying a “small number” of complaints were received. “It seemed like a lot of them were form letters,” Marranca said. “They all seemed to be saying the same thing in the same words. “I don’t have a specific number. My understanding is that it was not a large number.”
LifeCanada President Joanne Byfield expressed regret today regarding the Bank of Montreal’s decision. “This campaign to smear the organization was successfully orchestrated by radical abortion activists and carried out by supporters in the Canadian media,” she said.
Byfield speculates that the connection between BMO’s affinity Mosaik MasterCard and LifeCanada was discovered by pro-abortion advocates and a campaign to influence BMO was orchestrated. The affinity card, which is associated with 160 different organizations, is a fundraising enterprise. For every $100 spent by the holder of a group’s affinity MasterCard, BMO in turn gives $0.25 to the organization. Byfield said a handful of people, including a midwife from Victoria, circulated information about the program to an email list that included sympathetic journalists who decided to jump on the bandwagon and create a news story which then influenced BMO executives.
Byfield questioned why the credit card program was even considered a news story when the program has operated for over a decade. “Why suddenly was this a news story?” she asked.
The media bias complaint is also taken up by the website “cbcwatch.com”, which in a commentary surrounding the media presentation of the story stated: “This depiction could not be more misrepresented. It is a perfectly legal credit card affinity program. The real disparity exists in how financially, like the CBC, all Canadian taxpayers are forced to fund both abortions and abortion activism. CBC purposefully neglects to report that fact. It also omits the fact that private abortion clinics are welcomed, but most other privately provided medical services remain forbidden. These sorts of inconsistent, seemingly discriminatory policies suit the cause so are never mentioned.”
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