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Most everyone has read an editorial or an opinion piece attacking the federal government’s summer jobs program for excluding organizations that are pro-life — like the Roman Catholic Church. It has caused outrage in many quarters. We should be grateful that it is more than the usual orthodox suspects who see the injustice in this warped decision.
But what I believe most everyone is missing is that this is an enormous step towards an anti-religious tyranny. Religious believers have been marginalized on many fronts but this decision formalizes what has been piecemeal. The very government charged with protecting the rights of all Canadians is the culprit.
Essentially, in order to get grants to offset the cost of hiring students an organization must check a box on its application declaring its core mandate does not conflict with the government’s position on abortion. Students hired by parishes are usually involved in maintenance work such as painting buildings or grounds-keeping. Our charities hire students to work at summer camps or all types of other work that has nothing to do with abortion.
In the National Post, columnist Kelly McParland summarized the situation this way: “Justin Trudeau has a profound respect for Canada’s charter of rights, not surprisingly given his father’s role in introducing it. Too bad he doesn’t seem to understand it.”
In an interview in the National Post, Trudeau said he would look at ways to work with different groups to make the new rules fairer. In other words, he may recognize that banning the entire Catholic Church and other Christians and people from many other religions may be draconian. But his comments were vague. Like many infuriating politicians, he replied without answering the question.
At this point, whether he changes his mind or not is no longer the point. The damage has been done. This decision marks a complete break from the so-called pluralistic society the Liberals say they adore.
This government has declared that it despises pro-lifers and will not tolerate the religious principles that in many cases guide their lives.
In truth, the Liberal Party decision to ban pro-life candidates was odious enough — but once in power, they should feel they have a duty to protect all our sacred right to free expression.
I would imagine that before this decision on summer jobs was made some Liberal sage predicted that many of the nation’s churches, mosques and synagogues might take umbrage with such an exclusionary policy. Then in response, others might have said or thought, “The hell with them. Who needs those people and their archaic ideas? How can anyone think abortion is not good for society?”
What this means for Catholics and our brothers and sisters who answer to a higher law is that you are no longer full citizens of Canada. You have now been put into a second-class category. You will still be required to pay taxes and obey the laws of the land like a full citizen but your rights end there.
It has been a long time since our views were taken seriously but this summer jobs decision means we are no longer worthy of the same respect as other citizens.
Trudeau’s employment minister, Patty Hajdu, put this spin on the jobs decision.
“In terms of church groups that are concerned that this may invalidate them from funding, in fact, my perspective is that it won’t, as long as their core mandate agrees with those hard-won rights and freedoms that Canadians expect us to stand up for,” she said.
Frightening how things have changed: Canada had been considered a haven for those seeking religious freedom.
But somehow other groups seeking their own rights have elbowed us out and we have been found wanting because we dare to question the direction Canada is heading. Our opinions are seen as poison.
We are living in a world in which even the smallest groups waving the puniest of banners are now worthy of respect and rights. The transgender “community” and the new pronoun “community” have now become the vanguards of freedom. We, on the other hand, in our millions, are now the outliers.
This is no longer about any one issue. It’s about whether we have a real place in this society or whether we are just pests that our government tolerates.
Anyone who does not take this seriously is in denial.
Tyranny takes two: one to shout out orders and the other to meekly accept them. It is time to yell back.
(Lewis is a Toronto writer and regular contributor to The Catholic Register.)