OTTAWA — The official opposition Conservatives are opposing the Trudeau government’s plan to exclude faith groups from Canada Summer Jobs funding.
The program provides financial assistance for groups seeking to hire summer students, but the Trudeau government is demanding that recipients of the money first declare that they do not oppose full access to “reproductive rights,” or abortion on demand, as part of their “core mandate.”
The Conservative motion will be presented to the House of Commons for a vote early Monday evening. It demands that “organizations that engage in non-political non-activist work, such as feeding the homeless, helping refugees, and giving kids an opportunity to go to camp, should be able to access Canada Summer Jobs funding regardless of their private convictions and regardless of whether or not they choose to sign the application attestation.”
At a news conference Monday morning, Conservative Member of Parliament Garnett Genuis called the Liberal decision to exclude faith groups from funding as “the Liberal values test.” He said the motion was a “culmination of the consultation” that the official opposition conducted with organizations affected by the exclusion.
“Groups across this country were totally blind-sided by this policy and our response was to listen to groups affected by this policy,” he told reporters, adding that “because of their personal consciences, because of their convictions, they simply could not check the box.”
Genuis said the result has often been not just a restriction of activity but a cessation of it. “These groups are not able to receive the vital support to provide services in their community: services like supporting refugees, like helping seniors, like helping kids go to camp,” Genuis said.
When asked by The Daily Caller if the Conservative motion would enable the opposition to address the lack of any abortion law in Canada, Genuis said “the motion is not about abortion,” insisting that it was only about denying Canadians their freedom of conscience.
But Debbie Duval, the Ottawa spokeswoman for the Campaign Life Coalition, Canada’s largest pro-life organization, says the Conservative motion should be about abortion and should not just reference “non-political, non-activist” groups because that means pro-life activists will remain targeted by the Liberal policy. “We haven’t broken the law; we shouldn’t be excluding from funding either.”
She told The Daily Caller that Conservative leader Andrew Scheer needs to be “a little more Trumpesque, a little more courageous” when he attacks the Liberal government for marginalizing pro-life and faith groups.
“This issue was gift-wrapped for him and he hasn’t attacked the government with the force that he needs to,” she said, predicting that “this is not the end” of government policies that target social conservatives. “Some people won’t wake up until the government requires an attestation [for abortion] before they get their old age pension,” Duval said.