OTTAWA, January 16, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Canada’s prime minister is “imposing” his own views on abortion on church groups and faith-based charities by requiring they sign a pledge supporting abortion to receive summer job grants, said Conservative leader Andrew Scheer.
“I believe that the federal government should respect the freedoms that Canadians enjoy to have different beliefs and that by imposing personal values of Justin Trudeau on a wide variety of groups is not an appropriate way to go,” Scheer told reporters on Friday, the CBC reported.
The Tory leader was asked by reporters about the Canada Summer Job controversy after his speech to Mississauga Board of Trade last Friday.
Two days earlier, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had defended the new eligibility criteria at a Hamilton town hall meeting, declaring the Liberals “draw the line” at funding groups that “infringe” on the “right” to abortion.
Under the new Liberal rule, employers applying for Canada Summer Job grants must attest that their “core mandate” supports abortion and transgender “rights.”
Their online application will be void if they don’t check off the attestation.
Conservatives have heard from numerous faith-based charities and non-profits objecting to the Liberal requirement, Scheer said.
“We’ve heard a lot of concerns from many groups that offer a wide variety of services that have nothing to do with positions on social issues that fear that they will not be able to provide those much needed services within their communities, or provide young people with experience,” Scheer said.
“We’ve been talking with those groups and listening to their concerns and we’ll be, you know, we have concerns with the way that this Liberal government is treating people with different opinions on different issues.”
Scheer, a Catholic father of five, has an impeccable pro-life voting record but has stated repeatedly that a Conservative government won’t reopen the debate on abortion.
His spokesperson Jake Enwright told LifeSiteNews in an earlier interview that he couldn’t say how the Official Opposition will respond to the Liberal policy because Parliament was on Christmas break, and the Conservative caucus wouldn’t be meeting until January.
The application deadline for the Canada Summer Jobs Program is February 2, five days after the House of Commons reconvenes January 29.
“You should question the timing of this as well,” Enwright told LifeSiteNews.
“We will be having a discussion as a caucus at the earliest opportunity” to decide “what next steps will be taken…I don’t think this is an issue that will go away,” he said.
Meanwhile, Liberal Employment minister Patty Hajdu defended the pro-abortion attestation to reporters last Friday during a cabinet meeting in London, describing it as a “fair process.”
Church groups will be approved for funding if they attest that “their core mandate agrees with those hard won rights and freedoms that Canadians expect us to stand up for,” she told the Ottawa Citizen.
But the Liberal's new policy has sparked a backlash from religious groups and associations who say they can’t in conscience sign a document that states that they agree that their “core mandate” supports “reproductive” and transgender rights.
Toronto Right to Life has filed a lawsuit against the Liberals, arguing the requirement violates the Charter rights of freedom of expression and equality.
The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada is urging members to write MPs protesting the policy, and the Canadian Council of Christian Charities is urging those of its 3,400 members that applied for summer job grants in the past to send in a paper application with an alternate attestation.
The Canadian bishops and the Catholic Civil Rights League have also blasted the Liberal pro-abortion attestation.
LifeSiteNews has launched a petition, as has Campaign Life Coalition, Canada’s national political pro-life lobbying group.
Campaign Life is also urging pro-life advocates to get politically involved at the grassroots level to elect pro-life politicians.
“Faithful Christians need to take a stand and vote for a candidate who will publicly proclaim to be pro-life, and be willing to help re-educate the public that abortion is not a right under our Charter,” Jeff Gunnarson, Campaign Life vice president told LifeSiteNews in an earlier interview.
“It’s not about winning or losing elections! It’s about changing the political landscape to reflect once again the true Canadian values: to uphold the dignity of the human person,” he said.