ONTARIO (LifeSiteNews) – A pro-life political lobbying group’s online portal is available for Canadians looking to see where their 2021 federal election candidates stand on life issues, but to access the information one must be a supporter or donor, and sign an attestation to that effect.
Thanks to what has been called a “censorship law” enacted under Canada’s Justin Trudeau’s government through Elections Canada, Canada’s Campaign Life Coalition (CLC) is prevented from sharing publicly its pro-life voter guide during the election campaign period.
However, private donors, supporters, or stakeholders of CLC “can still view” and access the Voter Guide if they first visit voteprolife.ca and set up an account as an “official subscriber.”
“You’ll then have to fill in an application form, attest that you are indeed a CLC donor or supporter, that you agree with our values, and pay a $2 subscription fee which entitles you to access this content privately for a period of two years,” says CLC.
Once one is a donor/supporter, they will be able to access the voter guide, which lists where candidates stand on life issues with either a green light (pro-life and family) or red light (pro-abortion) rating.
In past federal elections, CLC’s Voter Guide was made publicly available online. However, CLC now finds itself restrained and “gagged” by new rules under Canada’s Election Act that severely limit what it can both say and post publicly during the election period.
In 2018, the Liberal government under Prime Minister Trudeau overhauled the Election Act, and amended it again in June 2019.
The Liberals added new rules which mandate that third parties, which include non-profit groups, must register with Elections Canada if more than $500 is spent on “partisan activity expenses,” “partisan advertising expenses,” and “election survey expenses.”
Once registered, a third party must open a separate bank account for financial contributions relating to election activities. The third party must also submit the names and addresses of individuals and groups who give more than $200.
The Liberals’ 2019 amendments also prohibited an earlier exemption which allowed associations such as CLC to send out political emails to its members without having to register as a third party.
As a result, CLC chose not to register as a third-party due to “onerous reporting and accounting requirements.”
“Trudeau brought in a censorious Third Party Advertising law which re-classified the kind of issues-based advocacy that CLC has done for 38 years as ‘illegal’ third-party ‘public’ advertising. The justification for this was ostensibly due to alleged ‘Russian interference’ in US elections, and a desire to prevent foreign interference in Canadians elections,” Jack Fonseca, Political Operations Director for CLC, told LifeSiteNews.
“To comply with the new gag law, we would have to register with the government and adhere to extremely onerous reporting and accounting requirements, which would be impossible for grassroots, non-profit organization like ours to do.”
Instead, CLC went the route of creating a closed online group that can only be accessed by members and donors.
According to CLC, it cannot “make our website content publicly available without triggering extreme and onerous reporting requirements.”
“CLC is not willing or able to trigger Third Party Advertising rules, so our federal election resources will no longer be available to the public until after the election,” says CLC.
“Throughout the remainder of the election period, we are only permitted to make our voter guide and candidate rating pages available to our private database of donors, supporters and stakeholders.”
Fonseca told LifeSiteNews that CLC believes Trudeau’s “real goal was not to prevent foreign interference in our elections, but rather, to gag small-c conservatives domestically so that the average Canadian couldn’t learn how extreme and antagonistic the Trudeau Liberals are with respect social issues of life, faith and family.”
“It was a very effective way for Trudeau to ensure that faith-based and pro-life groups like ours have no ability to educate the general public about the issues we care about. Making our candidate ratings publicly available on our website, as we have always done, would subsequently represent a violation of the gag law, so we had to block off public access to our website,” said Fonseca.
In 2020, both CLC and the pro-life lobby group RightNow were investigated by the office of the commissioner of Canada Elections after complaints were launched alleging that the groups were not following Canada’s then-new third-party advertising laws during the 2019 federal election.
CLC President Jeff Gunnarson told LifeSiteNews at the time that the problem is not the political advocacy groups, but the new law itself, calling it “anti-democratic, and act as a gag law to small grassroots organizations like ours.”
Trudeau, who is also Liberal Party Leader, has repeatedly stated his pro-abortion stance.
Conservative Party of Canada leader Erin O’Toole has said he is “pro-choice.”
Independent pro-life and family candidate MP Derek Sloan is running in the Alberta riding of Banff—Airdrie.
The only 100 percent pro-life party in Canada is the Christian Heritage Party, which has a slate of 25 candidates running nationwide.
The People’s Party of Canada bills itself as the “freedom” party and allows both pro-life and “pro-choice” candidates.