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Cardinal Thomas Collins. March 23, 2017.

TORONTO, Canada, February 26, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Toronto's Cardinal Thomas Collins spoke boldly against the new requirement under Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Government that employers sign an attestation supporting abortion and transgenderism in order to receive student summer job grants. 

“The government is being aggressively secularist,” Cardinal Collins said in an interview with Vatican News published February 23. “Churches shouldn’t have to attest to what they don’t believe.” 

“A lot of Canadians are appalled by this heavy-handed, dictatorial approach that is being taken by the government for no reason at all.  Why on earth are they doing this?  I just find it astonishing,” he added.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government touched off the controversy earlier this year over the Canada Summer Jobs program by requiring that employers sign an attestation that both the job and their “core mandate” respect human rights, including “reproductive rights.” The government spells this out to mean “the right to access safe and legal abortions.”

If employers don’t check off the attestation box when applying online, their application is tossed aside.

The country’s bishops blasted Trudeau’s government for “undermining religious freedom” by requiring that employers support abortion in order to be considered a good citizen worthy of partaking in social benefits provided by the government.

Cardinal Collins said that the Church in Canada would not allow the matter to be dropped. 

“One of the things we are surely going to do is to keep this before the public,” he said.

“We have been around for a long time. We are not going to back down on this,” he added.

While the government seems to hold all the cards at the moment as it doubles down on its requirement, Cardinal Collins reframed the standoff, saying, “We don’t want to get into a dispute, so we are trying to give [the government] a way out.” 

The Cardinal said he is hoping that the government will allow people of faith to opt-out of attesting to beliefs and values that contradict their faith. He, added, however, that he does not “have a lot of confidence that they’re going to back down on this.”  

The government authorities, notes the Cardinal, are trying to convince church groups that it’s no big deal to signal their agreement with the offensive attestation by saying it’s a simple matter to just check the box on the government form.  

“Just check the box, and you’ll get the money,” said Collins.  “In other words, ‘affirm that you believe and support what you don’t support.”

Perhaps jokingly — and perhaps not — Collins said, “Maybe I’ll send every member of Parliament a copy of A Man for All Seasons. The book tells the story of St. Thomas More, a 16th century English martyr who had his head chopped off for following God's laws on marriage instead of the king's. The reference is apropos. Canadians are being asked to turn off their consciences, go against their religious beliefs, and falsely attest they agree with something their faith cannot possibly permit them to do.  

The Cardinal said that many Canadians are now beginning to wake up to problems with the Trudeau government. 

“I think we’re noticing something very good – something you might not expect in a very secular society like Canada.  Even some pro-abortion groups are saying, ‘This is not right. We don’t agree with their position, but you can’t make their position, their beliefs’” a litmus test for being approved for funding. 

“Even some political parties which certainly have not been pro-religious are saying, ‘This isn’t right,’” continued the Cardinal, adding, “All kinds of commentators, including an atheist, who said, ‘Let me explain to the government the way people of faith operate.  You can’t force people to do this.’” 

“There’s an enormous amount of pushback,” he said.  

The Cardinal also noted that representatives of different faiths had come together to discuss the government’s assault on people of faith, resulting in 87 religious leaders signing a letter asking Prime Minister Trudeau’s government to drop the summer jobs pro-abortion, pro-transgenderism pledge.   

Cardinal Collins outlined a few strategies to deal with the troubling new government requirement. Among these are that Canadians can apply for summer job grants with a paper application and leave the attestation box blank with a note explaining why they can't in good conscience tick the box.

The Cardinal suggested that the government authorities who authored the attestation have misunderstood Canada’s Charter of Rights, and actually have it backward.

If they were to read the Charter of Rights, said Collins, they’d see two things: 

  1. “The very first fundamental right in the Charter of Rights is the freedom of conscience and religion.” 
  2. “The end of the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms says ‘this applies to governments, not to individuals.’”  

“So it’s intended to protect citizens from being intimidated by the government against their conscience and their religion,” explained the Cardinal.  “It’s not intended to be used by the government to intimidate the citizens, which is the way the government is using it.”

“Before Mr. Trudeau became Prime Minister, he had a policy that you can’t even run as a candidate in his party without affirming all these beliefs which he feels are self-evident beliefs,” said Cardinal Collins.  

And now that policy has been carried into Trudeau’s method of governing.   

“Is this our country,” asked Cardinal Collins, “where you force people to pass an ideology test?”