OTTAWA, December 6, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government has finally announced a change to a controversial condition of its summer jobs program, but pro-lifers say the “concession” still imperils the conscience rights and religious liberty of pro-life Canadians.
The Canada Summer Jobs Program offers money to groups that hire students for summer positions. Controversy erupted this year when Trudeau’s government added a requirement that participating organizations sign an attestation that their “core mandate” agrees with a variety of left-wing positions, including a “right” to abortion – regardless of whether the organization is involved in political advocacy against abortion.
Numerous non-political organizations have lost funds because they refused to comply, including a summer Bible camp in Alberta, a rural museum on the history of Port Hood in Nova Scotia, a small, family-owned agriculture irrigation business in Alberta, a Christian farm that provides free vacations to poor families, and the Catholic Archdiocese of Toronto.
Dozens of Christian, Jewish, and Muslim faith leaders have condemned the attestation as a “religious or ideological test,” and thousands of Catholics have written to the government in protest.
Next summer the government will stop requiring applicants to affirm their “core mandate” is pro-abortion, the Canadian Press reports. Instead, it will ask applicants to verify that the specific job seeking funding does not infringe on “sexual or reproductive health” access, or otherwise restrict Canadians’ “rights.”
Trudeau has repeatedly insisted that the attestation merely enforces fidelity to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, but the charter does not reference abortion directly or indirectly. It does recognize “fundamental freedoms” of “conscience and religion,” however, as well as “freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression.”
“They felt this was about their values and beliefs and not about the jobs and the performances of the students in particular roles and we took that to heart,” Labour Minister Patty Hajdu claimed. “We’ve been working on making sure we do what we intended to do, which is to stand up for the rights of Canadians…but that we also work closely with faith-based groups and others so that they can see how they themselves would fit into this program.”
“This is a program about quality jobs for kids, so we shouldn’t be asking kids in any circumstance to do work that would put them into a position to have to undermine or restrict the rights of others,” she continued. “That’s not the kind of job experience we would want young people to have, especially for, often times, their first” job.
Other changes to the program are that young people filling the jobs no longer have to be students, and can be anywhere from 15 to 30 years old.
But while organizations will no longer be asked to specifically sign a statement that violates their beliefs, pro-life leaders say the conditions still impose a heavy burden on pro-life consciences.
“From the way the media is describing it, it will still ask the employer or non-profit group to attest that ‘the job’ the student is being hired for ‘will not undermine or restrict reproductive rights,’” Campaign Life Coalition Director of Political Operations Jack Fonseca told LifeSiteNews. “If that or similar wording is part of the new attestation, no genuine Christian believer can sign it […] because it indirectly gives your assent to the false idea that killing babies in the womb is a genuine ‘right.’”
“There is no authentic right to kill preborn children, no matter what the government, the courts or the law say,” he explained. “For a religious leader or Christian Church to indirectly affirm that they believe abortion is a right, would be a scandal and a betrayal.”
Fonseca also explained that the requirement “still imposes a direct values test” on employers who are still satisfying the program’s original purpose. “So long as the students we hire are learning valuable job skills in office administration, marketing, technical writing, computer skills, graphic design, and the many other transferable job skills learned by working for us, what business is it of Trudeau’s?” he asked.
Fonseca suspects that this latest move is meant to “pre-empt a backlash at the ballot box by Christian voters and those of other faiths,” because the prime minister “knows that he made the mistake of showing his teeth to people of faith last year when he introduced the pro-abortion/transgenderism loyalty oath.”
“But religious leaders must not be fooled,” he warned. “Trudeau is still every bit the enemy of the cross. He has fully transformed the Liberal Party into a hate group against Christians, and while this tweak to the Summer Jobs program is designed to look like a reprieve from anti-Christian discrimination, believe me, it’s only a temporary gesture that will be retracted should he win another term in 2019.
“Should he hold onto power in 2019, I guarantee you that we will witness the expansion of the pro-abortion & transgenderism loyalty oath into many other federal programs,” Fonseca predicted.
Critics of Trudeau and the summer jobs attestation have also objected to the program giving $88,270 to fourteen Planned Parenthood affiliates in 2018, and more than $20,000 to an Islamist group that calls for the “eradication” of the “American empire” and “Israeli Zionists” the year before.