OTTAWA, June 29, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – A coalition of Canadian companies and a Christian student ministry are taking Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government to court over its requirement that they declare support for legal abortion and other political stances in order to participate in the country’s summer jobs program.
The Canada Summer Jobs Program offers money to groups that hire students for summer positions. In a break from previous years, it now requires participating organizations to sign an attestation that their “core mandate” agrees with a variety of left-wing positions, including a “right” to abortion — regardless of whether the organization is involved in political advocacy against abortion.
The new group, called Free To Do Business Canada, is challenging the attestation as a violation of freedom of speech, the National Post reports.
“It forces them to publicly agree with government ideology in order to access a public program that should be equally available to all small businesses,” spokeswoman Tamara Jansen said during a press conference in Ottawa. “This is unfair and unjust.”
The group is framing their effort as bigger than the abortion debate, refusing to take a position on that or any other issue covered by the attestation and refusing to identify with any specific religious or political group.
“This is an initiative or policy decision of the government that compels organizations to say something they otherwise would not say,” attorney Albertos Polizogopoulos added.
The first business to join the effort is Sarnia Concrete Products Ltd., which has requested a judicial review. Jansen says that five businesses support the initiative so far, but it’s unknown whether they will file separate appeals.
“It was a corporate view that they do not want to take a position on a controversial political issue because they’re not in the business of controversial political issues,” Polizogopoulos explained. “They’re in the business of concrete.”
Also challenging the attestation is Power To Change, a registered charity focused on campus Christian ministries. The group’s case concerns the government’s rejection of its application for 44 summer jobs, because those applications included a letter stating, “Our belief is contrary to the current government’s view on women’s reproductive rights. Our honestly held belief is protected under the Charter.”
The attestation is “not just blocking funding to organizations involved in fighting abortion,” Power to Change argues, “but also funding of organizations that do not have this mandate,” which comprise “a far larger segment of the non-profit sector” that stands to be affected.
Toronto Right To Life Association filed a challenge as well back in January, “but the case has been slowed as additional allegations are filed by the anti-abortion group,” the National Post reports.
Contrary to Trudeau’s repeated insistence that the attestation merely enforces fidelity to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the charter does not reference abortion directly or indirectly. It does recognize “fundamental freedoms” of “conscience and religion,” however, as well as “freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression.”
Among the organizations to lose funds because they refused the new policy are a summer Bible camp in Alberta, a rural museum on the history of Port Hood, Nova Scotia, a small, family-owned agriculture irrigation business in Alberta, a Christian farm that provides free vacations to poor families, and the Catholic Archdiocese of Toronto.
87 Christian, Jewish, and Muslim leaders have signed an open letter condemning the attestation as a “religious or ideological test or conditions to receiving government benefits or protection” that is incompatible with the “promise of a free and democratic society.” Last week, Opposition House Leader Candice Bergen revealed that same program that rejects pro-life charities is currently funding an Islamist group that calls for the “eradication” of the “American empire” and “Israeli Zionists.”