Trudeau: Pro-life position “not in line” with Canadian society
See minute 30.30 for the exchange about free speech between Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and a student. In it Trudeau said that speech and belief are protected by Canadian law, but acting on beliefs is not.
Canadian PM’s clarification on Summer Jobs Program funding seems to affirm that churches and other religions that follow their historical teachings cannot receive some public funds
By Gail Finke
Note: This story has been corrected; the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement on the issue Jan. 12.
Late last week Canada’s Prime Minister clarified changes to funding for a government program that helps pay salaries for student summer jobs and appeared to rule out jobs for churches and other “faith-based” jobs run by any organization that did not support abortion.
At a Town Hall meeting Jan. 11, PM Justin Trudeau said he was glad to receive a question about pro-life views and free speech, then extended his answer from speech to action, using the Canada Summer Jobs program (CSJ) as an example.
Free speech is valued by the Canadian government, he said, but “there is a difference between freedom of expression and acting on those expressions and beliefs.”
A “great example,” he continued, was the recent change to CSJ, which now requires all organizations to sign an “attestation” that the jobs, and the “core mandate” of the organizations themselves, work for Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which includes an explicit statement that abortion is a human right.
“Now, that doesn’t mean that religious groups and faith groups can’t apply for [the grants],” he said. “On the contrary, so many of the great community organizations that we have working incredibly hard are faith-based across this country and it’s an important and wonderful part of our society. “It does, however, mean – and this is where we get to the crux of the matter – that an organization that has the explicit purpose of restricting women’s rights by removing rights to abortion, the right for women to control their own bodies, is not in line with where we are as a government, and quite frankly where we are as a society.”
The clause was placed in the grant application because pro-abortion groups discovered that some grants for last year’s program, which helps fund tens of thousands of summer jobs, went to pro-life groups.
Several prominent Members of Parliament, religious organizations, and pro-life groups have pointed out that the clause goes far beyond prohibiting that grants can go to pro-life jobs, but seems to require that organizations affirm a position on a variety of contentious social issues including homosexuality (see below story for wording). By requiring the attestation, they say, Canada is effectively prohibiting most traditional religions and their followers from participating in the program — and perhaps, eventually, from any government programs.
For example, in a post to its members, the Canadian chapter of The Gospel Coalition, a group of Evangelical churches, said that no member could in good conscience sign the attestation, and a spokesman for Campaign Life Coalition, one of Canada’s largest pro-life organizations, said it “reeks of a deep-seated, anti-religious bigotry” and “must be stopped.” Member of Parliament Brad Trost asked, in a video response to the change he posted on Twitter, “If you discriminate in this program, why can’t you discriminate in all others – pensions, welfare, etc.?”
According to Statistics Canada, the country has more than 12 million Catholic residents, who make up almost 40% of the population. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau considers himself Catholic, despite his many public disagreements with Catholic moral teaching. The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a “statement of concerns” about the change to the program Friday (click here to read it).
. The attestation:
When submitting your application, you are asked to check the box “I attest” to confirm that:
- You have read and understood the CSJ Articles of Agreement and referred to the Applicant Guide as needed;
- The job would not be created without the financial assistance provided under a potential contribution agreement;
- Both the job and the organization’s core mandate respect individual human rights in Canada, including the values underlying the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms as well as other rights. These include reproductive rights and the right to be free from discrimination on the basis of sex, religion, race, national or ethnic origin, colour, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression;
- You have all the necessary authorities, permissions and approvals to submit this application on behalf of yourself and the organization.