OTTAWA, April 21, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — Justin Trudeau’s government announced last week that it won’t allow Liberal MPs to approve 2017 summer job funding for pro-life organizations after the story broke that Liberal MP Iqra Khalid did just that last year.
iPolitics reported April 12 that Khalid, a rookie MP for the Toronto-area riding of Mississauga-Erin Mills, approved more than $56,000 in Canada Summer Jobs program grants to the Canadian Centre for Bioethical Reform in 2016.
It appears iPolitics got the story from the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada.
An ARCC April 10 press release documents that pro-life groups CCBR, Campaign Life Coalition, LifeSiteNews, and Priests for Life received a total of $3.5 million in Canada Summer Job program funding between 2011 and 2017.
Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour Patty Hajdu responded through press secretary Matt Pascuzzo, who said Khalid’s funding of CCBR was an error and Hajdu has taken steps so that it won’t happen this year, iPolitics reported.
“Any funding provided to an organization that works to limit women’s reproductive rights last summer was an oversight,” Pascuzzo told iPolitics.
“That’s why this year we fixed the issue and no such organizations will receive funding from any constituencies represented by Liberal MPs.”
Pascuzzo did not respond to requests from LifeSiteNews to confirm that Hajdu has directed Liberal MPs to withhold summer job funding from all identified pro-life groups.
Under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the Liberals are committed to promoting and advocating abortion domestically and overseas.
Trudeau erroneously regards abortion as a Charter right, and as party leader purged the Liberal Party of pro-life candidates in 2014. The Liberals have pledged $650 million over three years to promote abortion in developing countries.
Campaign Life Coalition vice president Jeff Gunnarson denounced the Trudeau government for “politicizing a simple summer job program.”
The reported policy “smacks of totalitarian discrimination, treating some organizations as unworthy of the same equal opportunity to access available public funding according to fair criteria,” he told LifeSiteNews.
Carol Crosson, a constitutional and free speech lawyer who represented CCBR, echoed this.
“A democratic government does not threaten to punish its citizens by withholding government benefits on the basis of opinions and beliefs,” she told LifeSiteNews.
Hajdu is also looking into changing how the program is administered so the Trudeau government can stop not just Liberal but all MPs from approving summer job funding to pro-life groups, according to Pascuzzo.
“Our government has been unequivocal in our support for a woman’s fundamental right to choose,” he told iPolitics on April 13.
“Members of Parliament play a large role in determining funding in their respective ridings,” Pascuzzo said.
“This issue raises important questions about how the program’s funding decisions are made. The minister is committed to looking at this matter in time for next year.”
Under current rules, non-profit groups, small businesses, and public sector employers can apply for funding through Canada Summer Jobs program to create jobs for students from 15 to 30 years of age.
It's up to individual MPs to assess and approve funding applications from groups in their ridings.
“If the Liberal government had its way, local MPs would lose one of the few remaining expressions of autonomy and be turned into trained seals for the prime minister and ARCC,” Campaign Life’s Gunnarson observed.
“It’s unfortunate that the Liberal government seems to be in the tank with a radical abortion ‘rights’ group who are intent on shutting down any opposition to abortion,” he added. “This is hardly in keeping with Canadian democratic traditions.”
Moreover, “politicizing a simple summer job program intended to give young people valuable workplace experience and the chance to develop job skills” is “a dangerous game to play,” Gunnarson said.
The ARCC, meanwhile, has claimed a victory in the wake of Pascuzzo’s statements.
Kathy Dawson, Alberta board member for ARCC, told iPolitics that the Liberal government’s changing rules for the summer job program “would be fabulous.”
The ARCC released a statement Tuesday pressing Alberta’s NDP government to follow the federal Liberals' lead and stop provincial funding of pregnancy counselling centres.
Meanwhile, CCBR will carry on its vital pro-life educational work, says executive director Jonathon van Maren.
“CCBR was merely one of the very first targets in a campaign by the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada to have any organization that respects the sanctity of human life blacklisted by the federal government and denied the same opportunities pro-abortion groups have,” he told LifeSiteNews.
“Fortunately, there are thousands of pro-life people across Canada who fuel the team and the work of CCBR ahead with their support.”