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 Justin Trudeau / Flickr

OTTAWA, April 26, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has defended Canada’s new pro-abortion summer jobs grant attestation, arguing that his government’s pro-abortion values take precedence over the beliefs of program participants.

The Canada Summer Jobs program provides additional funds for groups that hire students for summer positions. It’s projected to fund almost 70,000 student jobs this summer, but this year controversy has arisen because it now requires participating organizations to sign an attestation that their “core mandate” agrees with a variety of left-wing positions, including a “right” to abortion.

Conservative lawmakers challenged Trudeau on the matter during a House of Commons question period Wednesday, the National Post reports.

“There is nobody who believes that the Prime Minister is committed to free speech when he punishes all those in this country who do not agree with his personal point of view,” Conservative leader Andrew Scheer said.

“The commitment that this government has made to stand up and defend reproductive rights and the rights of women at every single opportunity is one that sticks in their craw,” a defiant Trudeau responded. “We will not apologize for ensuring that women’s rights are protected across this country.”

Unimpressed with Trudeau’s statement, the National Post’s John Ivison responded, “We believe in free speech and advocacy, says Justin Trudeau in Question Period. Except when we don't agree with what is being advocated, he doesn't say.”

Trudeau’s government claims that the provision only refers to the actions participants engage in, and does not require them to change their beliefs. But faith-based organizations still fear it renders them ineligible.

The Catholic Archdiocese of Toronto, for instance, says the attestation is the reason why their application for $1.1 million in summer jobs funding this year was rejected. Overall, 1,561 applications have been rejected this year, as opposed to a mere 126 in 2017.

“We would expect that the principle of freedom of speech would apply equally to all Canadians on all issues,” archdiocesan spokesman Neil MacCarthy said. “The only consistency on this file seems to be inconsistency in the way it has been communicated, interpreted and implemented.”

Even some pro-abortion members of Parliament have called the attestation a step too far. New Democratic Party MP David Christopherson said it “took away Canadians’ right to disagree with the laws that they have to obey,” while Liberal MP Scott Simms called it “an insensitive measure to those who felt strongly about this, whether they were pro-life or pro-choice.”

Simms was the only Liberal MP to vote against the attestation. Last week, Trudeau punished his dissent by revoking his chairmanship of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, and the post’s $11,900 salary along with it.

“Trudeau is so obsessed with ensuring that the maximum number of children are killed by abortion, that he’s prepared to slay even the conscience rights of his own MPs,” Campaign Life Coalition senior political strategist Jack Fonseca responded last week. “Shame on the Liberals.”

In January, 87 Christian, Jewish, and Muslim leaders signed an open letter calling on Trudeau and Employment Minister Patty Hajdu to abandon the attestation, calling it a “religious or ideological test or conditions to receiving government benefits or protection” that was incompatible with the “promise of a free and democratic society.”