Pro-life group sues Trudeau gov’t for tying pro-abortion pledge to summer job funds
TORONTO, January 9, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — Toronto Right to Life Association is suing Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government for violating the Charter by requiring employers sign an “attestation” supporting abortion and transgender rights to receive summer job funding grants.
“Toronto Right to Life feels it’s important to defend our rights and fight back against this discrimination, so that we can continue to be a voice for voiceless preborn children,” said group president Blaise Alleyne.
Calgary-based constitutional lawyer Carol Crosson filed an application January 4 with the federal court asking the Liberals’ pro-abortion attestation requirement be quashed on the grounds it is “compelled speech.”
“Compelling individuals to adopt certain beliefs in order to receive benefits…is a breach of their conscience rights, religious rights, expression rights and right to equality under the Charter,” Crosson told LifeSiteNews.
“And of course, this doesn’t just affect individuals with certain beliefs, it affects everyone in Canada,” she said.
This is “because if one individual with a certain set of beliefs can be compelled, anyone can be compelled to agree with the government’s opinion on a particular social issue,” Crosson explained.
Canada Summer Jobs grants funds to non-profit groups, small businesses, and public sector employers to create jobs for students from 15 to 30 years of age.
Formerly, it was up to individual members of Parliament to approve applications for the program.
But Liberal employment minister Patty Hajdu introduced new criteria December 19, after making it clear last year she would change how the program is administered to prevent pro-life groups from receiving funds.
To be eligible for the program, employers must now sign an attestation that their “core mandate” and the jobs they create respect Charter values, including “reproductive rights and the right to be free from discrimination on the basis of sex, religion, race, national or ethnic origin, colour, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.”
The Liberals assert on the Canada Summer Job website the attestation is “consistent with individual human rights in Canada.”
These include “sexual and reproductive rights — and the right to access safe and legal abortions. These rights are at the core of the Government of Canada’s foreign and domestic policies,” the website states.
The Liberal requirement sparked widespread outrage among pro-life groups, with a number of them, including LifeSiteNews and Campaign Life Coalition, launching petitions opposing the measure.
Jack Fonseca, senior political strategist for Campaign Life Coalition, described the move as a “ground-breaking first step on the inevitable path to raw totalitarianism and open persecution with the sanction of the state” and warned that Trudeau “is transforming the Liberal Party into a hate group against Christians.”
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Toronto Right to Life appears to be the only pro-life group so far to take the Liberals to court over the matter.
The group already successfully sued the Liberals when Hajdu’s ministry denied them summer job grants in 2017.
Crosson represented TRTL, as well as Guelph Right to Life and the Canadian Center for Bioethical Reform in the legal action, which the Liberals settled out of court in November.
The government admitted the pro-life groups were “denied funding on the basis of a criteria neither set out in the applicant’s guide nor included in the MP’s list of local priorities for 2017,” according to TRTL’s January 4 notice of application.
Alleyne told LifeSiteNews his group received $10,000 from the Liberal settlement, the equivalent of job grants for four students.
In the current lawsuit, Crosson is seeking a court order to “stay,” or block enforcement of, the attestation until the Charter challenge is heard, she told LifeSiteNews.
She expects to be in court within a few days to argue for the stay, but no date has yet been set.
Meanwhile, February 2 is the application deadline for Canada Summer Jobs in 2018. Toronto Right to Life has submitted a paper application.
It included a cover letter stating that TRTL supported Canadian law, the Charter and human rights law, but could not sign the attestation on grounds of conscience.
“We believe the minister does not have the jurisdiction under law to compel us to make a statement that conflicts with our conscience rights under the Charter,” the TRTL letter stated.
“We respectfully decline to make a statement that is inconsistent with our fundamental personal beliefs about the value of life and the right to life under Section 7 of the Charter,” it continued.
TRTL received confirmation the materials were delivered to Service Canada December 22, according to its application.
The attestation requirement “affects all employers applying for funding under the program program, pro-life organization or pro-life individuals who might be running totally different business,” Alleyne told LifeSiteNews. “We’re standing up for our rights but in a way that we will hope will combat discrimination against pro-life Canadians in general.”
His group is currently raising money to cover the costs of this enormous legal battle.
“We’re a pretty small organization taking on a pretty big legal challenge, so donations are certainly appreciated,” he said.
“We want to make sure that we have the resources to see this battle through and to defend the right, not only for Toronto Right to Life, but for other pro-life Canadians who are facing this discrimination,” he said.
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