This winter, Justin Trudeau, the Prime Minister of Canada, has stirred up a lot of dust across the country with his insistence that an “attestation” be affirmed by applicants for grants to help pay for summer students. This is the first time such a ideological requirement has been part of the application process. The following is the wording from section 12.i. of the 2018 Canada Summer Jobs Application/Agreement as it appears on the government website:
“i. both the job and the organization’s core mandate respect individual human rights in Canada, including the values underlying the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms as well as other rights. These include reproductive rights and the right to be free from discrimination on the basis of sex, religion, race, national or ethnic origin, colour, mental or physical disability or sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression.”
Elsewhere on Canada.ca, we find this clarification of “reproductive rights:”
“The government recognizes that women’s rights are human rights. This includes sexual and reproductive rights — and the right to access safe and legal abortions.” Most Canadians are already aware that “reproductive rights” is code for “abortion rights.”
A wide range of Canadians has called on the Prime Minister to either reword the attestation or to get rid of it altogether as a condition for applying for grants to employ students this summer, to no avail. Many Christian camps and churches use federal government money to help offset the costs of summer student labour in fulfilling ministry objectives that have nothing to do with reproductive rights, or any other political agenda, in Canada.
More and more people are pointing out that the Prime Minister has overstepped the bounds of his authority in this regard, because Canada is one of the few countries in the world that does not have any law regarding abortion. So, theoretically, any woman can abort her child up to the day before its birth without legal ramifications. Note, however, that this is not because such a right is enshrined in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It is because there is no law specifically against a woman having an abortion for any reason at any point during her pregnancy.
The move by a democratically elected government to require ideological conformity should be challenged because it is forces citizens to adopt a policy which is dictated by a political party. (Different from obeying the law of the land.) Several pundits have observed that it is not unlike Rome requiring citizens to burn a pinch of incense to Caesar recognizing his divinity in exchange for freedom from harassment.
Action for Canadians
So what should Christians do in the face of such encroachment on their ability to apply for a grant?
1) Individuals and assemblies could write a letter of protest to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour Patty Hajdu (Patty.Hajdu@parl.gc.ca) to indicate concern regarding this overreach of power.
2) Organizations and churches which make use of the grant system to help pay for summer staff could apply for the grant in writing and make their own attestation to the effect that they support the rights granted by the Charter, but do not support the Liberal Party’s stance on abortion.
3) We can pray that God will protect and supply for the needs of churches and ministries that, in the past, have depended on grant money which is now unavailable.
4) We can double down on our prayer for the government and its ministers, who, though acting in a way that discriminates against all those who disagree with their moral agenda, are still worthy of our spiritual concern.
Action for nonCanadians
As a Canadian writing in a forum which has readers in other countries, I would ask our international friends to join us as we pray for the Canadian government:
• that God would move among its members for His glory and the good of the people (even unborn ones)
• that He would encourage the church, giving us boldness to speak where we need to speak against discriminatory policies, and
• that He would grant us solidarity among ourselves.