Good evening and welcome to this special extended edition of Perspectives Daily.
There is a storm brewing here in Canada, a political storm of sorts, that involves a grave violation of Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The main offender in this case, is none other the Canadian Federal Government.
The Liberal government under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, is denying access, to a public benefit based on religious beliefs and consentience objection. In essence, the government is insisting that you either agree with their so called “values” or you simply don’t qualify for a public benefit.
The Canada Summer Jobs program is a federal program that gives wage subsidies to employers, so they can hire summer students. It is a great program. It created almost 69,000 summer jobs for students last year, giving them opportunities they wouldn't normally have.
Now however, before receiving any federal funding under this program, employers must confirm a declaration that they are in of support of certain values determined by the Liberal government including among other things, “the right to access, safe and legal abortions”. A right which incidentally, doesn’t exist in the Canadian Charter.
So it’s not surprising that this move by the government, has sparked outrage from the Catholic church and other faith communities who rightfully claim that they are being forced to choose between their spiritual core-values on one hand, or funding that helps run summer job programs, (most of which have absolutely nothing to do with abortion), on the other.
Now here in Toronto, Cardinal Thomas Collins, the Archbishop to Toronto participated, in a press conference, on January 25th, along with other prominent faith leaders, to release an inter-faith statement and to discuss the impact, the new funding rules will have, on faith-based organizations, and the community as a whole.
The statement itself, signed by over 80 religious leaders was a call for the government to amend the guidelines, so that religious organizations can stay true, to their communal identity and beliefs. Here is what the Cardinal had to say on the matter.
Many of the other speakers also called upon the government to accommodate the “diversity of values and beliefs” in Canadian society. They expressed concerned with what the policy could be turned into in years to come.
Now the deadline for applications into this program, ends on February 2nd and Trudeau is stubbornly holding his position, which means, that it is most likely, many worthy employers will lose access to subsidies leaving many kids across Canada out of a job is summer.
I had a chance to talk to Cardinal Collins, one-on-one, after the press conference, to asked him about what happens next, whether it’s too late, and if the fight for change will continue on, after the February 2nd deadline.
And as usual, it's the kids that inevitably suffer from the folly of our mistakes and, become the collateral damage of our uncompromising stubbornness. And suffer they will. Students like Luca, Elijah and Christina, camp counsellors at St. Benedict’s Summer Daze program, who like many kids this summer, will suffer the consequences of the government's unwavering position.
The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops responded to this issue with a statement early January, that wisely pointed out that, "there will be unfortunate consequences on the ground: summer camps will be forced to close; the services of numerous non-profit organizations will be reduced; valuable opportunities for apprenticeship will be lost”.
And it looks like they are right. It seems that this summer, the effects of this infringement on our Charter of Rights and Freedoms, will be felt in Catholic dioceses, and organizations, as well as, in many other faith communities across Canada.
Now what of the prime minister in all this? For his part, Trudeau has arrogantly dismissed this whole issue as a “kerfuffle,” and he’s still insisting, that employers agree with his Party’s position on abortion & reproductive rights, before giving funds to create summer jobs for kids like Luca, Christina and Elijah.
Though it’s really not a surprise. After seeing our Prime Minister previously order conformity on his, “resolute pro-choice stand", on abortion from his entire caucus, (or face banishment from the Liberal party), can we really expect any flexibility on any position that differs from his?
I guess we’ll have to wait and see and pray for a miracle.