Toronto, ON. Earlier this year the Trudeau government announced that organizations with pro-life views would not be eligible for grant funding from the Canada Summer Jobs program, saying it would find a mechanism to punish citizens unless they agreed with the government’s social ideologies. This announcement was followed by denying the applications of a number of pro-life organizations on the false basis of “budget” concerns.
The initial announcement made by the Ministry of Employment, which was made after a concerted campaign by the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada (ARCC) and pro-choice bloggers, was hailed by Kathy Dawson of ARCC as “fabulous” when speaking to journalists.
Three organizations who were denied funding, the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform (CCBR), Guelph & Area Right to Life, and Toronto Right to Life, commenced lawsuits against the Ministry, claiming the denials were a breach of their Charter 2(b) right to freedom of expression. Last month the Ministry settled with the three organizations by awarding funds each group should have received while admitting the groups “were denied funding on the basis of a criteria neither set out in the Applicant’s Guide nor included in the MP’s list of local priorities for 2017.”
The Ministry has now taken what it did in the dark into the light of day by blatantly requiring all future applicants to agree to government ideologies in order to receive a government benefit. The Liberal government has expanded its ideological purity test, laying out an entire list of beliefs applicant organizations must “attest” to in order to become eligible for summer student job funding. This includes support for legal abortion.
“The Trudeau government’s settlement revealed precisely what we suspected,” said Jonathon Van Maren, communications director for CCBR. “At the urging of the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada an ideological purity test was inserted into a previously neutral process. Canadian groups who believe that human beings in the womb are entitled to human rights have been told that if you do not agree to our beliefs and forfeit your own you will be punished.”
Jakki Jeffs of Guelph Right to Life concurred, adding: “In a democracy, government has no right to threaten punishment on the basis of citizens refusing to yield the fundamental right to their own views, opinions, and beliefs.” Vanessa Sproule of Toronto Right to Life also noted that, “It is unjust and intolerant for government to exclude citizens from benefits on the basis of belief. Canadians need to make a choice and make a stand.”
Lawyer Carol Crosson, who represented all three groups of the lawsuit, confirmed that the Trudeau government’s new guidelines may result in further legal action.