Trudeau Liberals' abortion obsession remains in plain view


National Post, 13 December 2018

The hope is dead. The obsession lives on. As does unnecessary confusion and complications in the summer jobs program

Like the dog in the Book of Proverbs that returns to its own vomit, the federal Liberals simply can’t get over their obsession with abortion politics. They are back at it again.

They long ago banned pro-life candidates from contesting their nominations, and earlier this year thought they would try that out on the general public. The pilot project was the Canada Summer Jobs Program, which subsidizes charities and small businesses to hire summer students. The 2018 application required an “attestation” or values test; if you didn’t check the box agreeing with the federal government’s extreme position on abortion — the most extreme in the non-communist world — you were ineligible to apply. Given the relatively small size of the summer jobs program, it was almost certainly a test run for applying the attestation to larger files. Perhaps the Assembly of First Nations or the Aga Khan would have to sign before taking government cash.

The pilot project did not fly. Canadians across the board objected. Pro-choice groups did not fancy being tarred with the government’s totalitarian brush. Religious groups were the most vocal critics. Church summer camps for poor kids lost their counsellors because they could not apply for the grants. The government made it worse still when they told religious group to check the box anyway and apply. Faith groups declined the offer of thirty pieces of silver.

In the event, the whole matter caused a “kerfuffle” in the words of Justin Trudeau, indicating how he regarded what the Charter of Rights calls “fundamental freedoms.” So the Liberals decided not to extend their abortion politics to other government programs and announced last week that they would revise the application for 2019. Gone was the windy endorsement of the Liberal policy position, and instead only this: “Any funding under the Canada Summer Jobs program will not be used to undermine or restrict the exercise of rights legally protected in Canada.”

“There’s no longer a values test, and that’s a good thing,” said Dr. Andrew Bennett, my colleague at Cardus and Canada’s former ambassador for religious freedom. “(Evaluation of applications) will now be about the job, not tied to the organization offering the job. Clearly, the government did listen to the groups who voiced such strong opposition to both those things.”

So the unconstitutional values test is gone. And “undermine or restrict” is sufficiently vague in regard to “rights legally protected” that I would imagine almost anyone could attest to that. I suppose it would exclude an environmental group hiring a student to protest Kinder Morgan — sorry, the federal government —building the TransMountain pipeline. That would seem to undermine a legal right.

But of course it’s not about such things. As it always is for this government, it’s about abortion. So we read under “ineligible projects and job activities” that is it prohibited to “actively work to undermine or restrict a woman’s access to sexual and reproductive health services.”

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