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‘Kerfuffle‘ for Christian Camps 

Summer camps may need to reduce staff or cease operation due to the Liberal government’s recent funding requirements. (PHoto: kali9 / iSTOCK)

(Staff)  NUMEROUS FAITH GROUPS AND CHARITIES across the country are condemning the Liberal government’s new requirement that employers seeking access to funds from the Summer Jobs Program must support abortion. The program subsidizes around 70,000 student jobs every year.

In the online application form for the federal program, which helps employers hire summer students, applicants will need to tick a box that, for many, forces them to choose between their beliefs and government funding.

They must sign an “attestation” declaring that they support abortion as a human right, plus the controversial theory of gender identity. This is a problem for faith-based organizations, non-profits and small business owners whose core values include the protection of pre-born children.

Applicants are required “to attest that both the job and the organization’s core mandates will respect… women’s reproductive rights.” This means that faith-based employers who believe that human life is sacred must renounce their belief that abortion is immoral in order to access the government program.

It also requires applicants “to attest that both the job and the organization’s core mandates will respect… sexual orientation, gender identity or expression,” and “the rights of gender-diverse and transgender Canadians,” which means that traditionally-principled business owners and non-profit organizations must renounce their belief in biblical sexual morality in order to be eligible for the government grants.

Critics point out that Canadians are allowed to hold different political beliefs than the government of the day and that they should not have their funding cut off because they disagree with the government.

There are concerns that if the government is permitted to discriminate under this government program, the precedent will be set to allow discrimination in other government programs such as pensions, welfare, Export Development Canada financing, etc.

“The Trudeau government is engaging in ideological coercion by demanding that employers who believe killing children before birth is wrong, attest that they support so-called ‘reproductive rights’,” said Jim Hughes, national president for Campaign Life Coalition. “For the government to deny federal funds to pro-life employers for their summer students, while encouraging grants for pro-abortion organizations, is directly discriminating against millions of Canadians.”

“Trudeau is using the Canada Summer Jobs Program to compel and coerce Canadians to renounce their deeply held religious or moral beliefs, in exchange for federal funding,” said Jack Fonseca, spokesperson for Campaign Life Coalition.

CLC has launched a petition, which, at press time, has garnered 7,268 signatures.

Between Dec. 17 and Jan. 3, more than 115 churches, businesses and ministry organizations have emailed the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada saying that they consider the changes to the Canada Summer Jobs grant program to be unfair.

The EFC said on their website: “Thousands of churches and organizations across Canada are religious charities which operate legally under provincial human rights codes. In carrying out their work, they benefit the communities in which they are located and our nation as a whole. Such charities foster vibrant social networks, spark volunteerism, and foster community resiliency, providing a religious rationale for activities like poverty alleviation and caring for those who are vulnerable. Although these positive ends are experienced by many in the community regardless of faith, they are offered out of a religious context, with a religious rationale.

“…we are concerned that this [attestation] requirement could mean that churches or Christian summer camps, for example, will be ineligible to receive the grant if they wish to hire only students that share their religious beliefs.

“These changes in eligibility could impact a wide range of Christian ministries, organizations and programs. But even more seriously, we believe it is a violation of the guaranteed freedoms of religion, thought, belief, opinion and association offered by Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms, especially the provisions under Section 2.”

While Prime Minster Justin Trudeau has referred frequently to a woman’s right to abortion, there is nothing in the Charter explicitly guaranteeing unfettered reproductive rights. 

Speaking at a town hall meeting in Hamilton, Ont., Prime Minster Justin Trudeau dismissed what he referred to as the “kerfuffle around the Canada Summer Jobs Program.” He clarified, “we are specifically going at organizations that have the explicit and mandated purpose of removing rights that women have long fought for.”

Yet even the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada, the pro-choice group that originally urged the government to cut off funds to pro-life activists, now says the government should back down and remove the attestation requirement on the funding application, so that religious groups can access the program. 

As John Ivison, a columnist for The National Post, remarked, “It’s clear Trudeau has overreached. He has achieved something few statesmen can boast about – unity among Jewish, Muslim, Hindu and Sikh organizations, albeit 100 per cent in opposition to him.” 

No law exists in Canada limiting abortion, not even late-term abortions – typically defined as occurring after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The Supreme Court struck down what it ruled were overly restrictive laws in 1988, and gave Parliament a year to come up with new legislation. Parliament tried and failed so there now exists a legal vacuum but no social consensus on the divisive issue. 

The application deadline for the Summer Jobs Program is Feb. 2nd.   TAP

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