The backlash against Trudeau’s “abortion attestation” for the Canada Summer Jobs Program goes international

By Jonathon Van Maren

Justin Trudeau’s decision to insert an “abortion clause” into the application process for the Canada Summer Jobs Program has resulted in what the prime minister has called a “kerfuffle,” and the backlash to his decision is continuing to dog the Liberals. The BBC reported on the story to explain why it was such a “controversial policy.” American news outlets and opinion commentators continue to discuss the story, and now even the New York Times has weighed in with the headline “Linking Youth Funding to Abortion Rights Spawns Backlash in Canada and Beyond,” noting that the Liberal decision “is inflaming a cultural battle and angering religious groups, opposition politicians, and even American conservatives.”

Commentators on both Left and Right have thus far been nearly universally critical of the decision. In the Globe and Mail, John Ibbitson wrote that, “This oath is not only offensive; on its face, it’s a clear violation of the very Charter rights that it claims to defend…The government should scrap the odious clause from the application forms where it has popped up, apologize to Canadians for violating their right to freedom of religion and come up with something that doesn’t place people in an intolerable moral conflict.” The Globe and Mail followed up with an editorial explaining that disagreeing with Canada’s abortion regime is a right, noting in part that, “The Charter protects their freedom to dispute the contents of the constitution and its interpretation by the courts. But Mr. Trudeau appears to have unilaterally decided that arguing against a right is as bad as infringing it. That’s chilling.”

The National Post published a devastating editorial headlined “Trudeau uses ‘alternative facts’ on abortion to discriminate against people of faith,” and explained how Trudeau and the Liberals get the facts on abortion wrong:

No legislation exists in Canada limiting abortion, nor is there anything in the Charter explicitly guaranteeing unfettered reproductive rights, despite the prime minister repeatedly suggesting that there is. Defending his government’s plan to deny a portion of federal funding to non-profit groups that might focus on campaigning for limits, any limits, on abortion, Justin Trudeau has repeatedly claimed he is merely defending Charter rights. “An organization that has as its stated goal to remove rights from Canadians, to remove the right that women have fought for to determine what happens to their own bodies, is not in line with where the Charter is,” he said this week.

Fact check: What permits unrestricted abortion in Canada is not a law, but the absence of one. There is an important difference. The Supreme Court struck down what it ruled were overly restrictive laws in 1988, and gave Parliament a year to come up with replacements. Parliament tried, failed, and gave up, apparently forever. The result is an enduring legal vacuum that successive governments have been all too happy to ignore rather than reopening a contentious and complicated debate.

Many Canadians have made their peace with the status quo. But we should still all be very uneasy with Trudeau’s peddling of his own “alternative facts” version of the arrangement and how Canada arrived at it. His government has, appropriately, been taking fire from across the spectrum over its new requirement for organizations seeking federal support for hiring summer students. 

Trudeau’s decision to target pro-lifers has actually resulted in an enormous number of people getting a crash course education on what the status quo in Canada actually is on abortion—a status quo polls say 80% of Canadians are unaware of. The National Post ended their editorial with a firm rebuke to Trudeau:

It is strange that the prime minister, a man who never misses an opportunity to talk about his respect for the rights of women, does not much value the rights of women of faith who might disagree with him about abortion. And it is no less than disturbing that he would use misinformation as a way to marginalize both women and men of faith. (That includes, we should point out, religious Muslims, another group the prime minister has until now been vocal about in offering his defence and respect.) The abortion facts on the ground are already all on the prime minister’s side. What more does he have to prove?

Rex Murphy also surfaced to take some eloquent shots at our prime minister, who must be wondering how a move to target pro-life groups has backfired on him so spectacularly:

Does anyone think Mr. Trudeau, more a stumbler than a specialist on the ethics front, is overreaching here? Just a jot or a tittle? Has he really not read the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, a document on most occasions he treats as believers of old reverenced the Sinai tablets?

Over in the Waterloo Record, Peter Shawn Taylor was equally critical, writing that, “You might obey all the laws of the land, take off your hat for the anthem and participate broadly in civil society. But for Justin Trudeau, that’s not enough.For our prime minister, loyalty also means swearing allegiance to the Liberal platform. And anyone who isn’t prepared to conform will find themselves denied basic opportunities that should be available to all law-abiding Canadians.” He finishes his column by quoting lawyer Barry Bussey:

“We are seeing the dark underbelly of the Liberal government,” says Bussey. “If you don’t agree with their view of the world, you aren’t eligible for government benefits. It is almost a communist mindset.”

It’s hard to disagree with that.

And finally, John Ivison in the National Post, who is himself pro-choice, expressed disbelief that Trudeau was still defending his position after a week of getting a shellacking in the press:

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.

There is, presumably, some nervousness among his advisers that a sustained impasse could hit political support in communities that have, hitherto, been enthusiasts.

But such is the chauvinism on reproductive issues in Liberal circles, there is a refusal to believe in the legitimacy of any dissent from their orthodoxy.

There is a word for such behaviour – arrogance. It has killed Liberal governments in the past. It may do so again.

I wonder if Justin Trudeau regrets bringing up the abortion debate. He’s certainly finding out that there’s a lot more Canadians who disagree with the Liberals on abortion than he ever could have imagined.


For anyone interested, my book on The Culture War, which analyzes the journey our culture has taken from the way it was to the way it is and examines the Sexual Revolution, hook-up culture, the rise of the porn plague, abortion, commodity culture, euthanasia, and the gay rights movement, is available for sale here.

27 thoughts on “The backlash against Trudeau’s “abortion attestation” for the Canada Summer Jobs Program goes international

  1. Paul Dodds says:

    God works in mysterious ways and the Trudeau affair is yet another indication that the unborn are a live issue and that the Incarnation of Christ has present and eternal meaning.

  2. RogerLegacy says:

    The animal kingdom must stand back and watch in amazement at the atrocities committed by man, a species supposedly created above them. If God can design an entire universe, imagine the horrendous design of judgment and punishment He has designed for those who commit, turn a blind eye and who are silent at the butchering innocent babies. Mighty weapons and military have no power to self-destruct a country more than our own self-inflicted wounds of silence and approval….Forgive me my brothers for ranting, but this is so painful that I fear God’s patients and leniency; for it differs from our tolerance. The world needs a good shaking to the core….It’s just a matter of when for it has been scheduled. No one fears God because God has been watered down by a watered down Gospel that has drained its power. Love and Mercy is our disposition, not our plight. Salvation is our rescue and an evacuation to those who fear God and an injustice on our part for those who don’t. Today the Gospel message is sadly represented as an option to those who see the Cross of Christ as outdated, foolishness and morbid. “It is here” where the power of God lies, while we continue presenting a one-sided Gospel with no warnings of consequences.There’s no reverence; for there is no understanding in the One who allows us to stand up upon these two legs of bones wrapped in human flesh. Mankind must be reminded again of who is the Creator, and who are the creatures.

    • Wendy says:

      So basically you are saying if I had an abortion i am going to pay for it when I go HOME? Or am I going to hell? Does it matter that it was forced on me or am I always going to be a murderer in your eyes?
      I am definatley pro life but its judgemental Christian like you that keep me away from church. The word says judge not lest ye be judged. Take the plank out of your own eye!
      I love the Lord and I believe my Lord is compassionate unlike most Christians. I don’t agree with the Priminister but I dont agree with you either!

      • Jonathon Van Maren says:

        I didn’t say any of the things you just said in the column. I don’t believe those things, either. I didn’t say “murderer,” I didn’t say “going to hell,” and I’m not sure why you’re putting words in my mouth.

        • joel gray says:

          Jonathon, with respect, i believe Wendy is replying to Roger Legacy, not you. In particular, his line “If God can design an entire universe, imagine the horrendous design of judgment and punishment He has designed for those who commit, turn a blind eye and who are silent at the butchering innocent babies.” While i believe I understand where Mr.Legacy is coming from (a place of utter disgust at the killing of innocent lives), i must confess his comments, while lacking no magnaminous righteous religious thunder, nonetheless fail to nuance the grace, mercy and hope that Christ extends to those unfortunate mothers who, for whatever reasons, believed that they had nothing to offer to the precious person growing inside them (or, as in Wendy’s case, the decision was forced on them). Thank you for your article Jonathon. I do not always agree 100%, however i DO appreciate reading your angle 100% of the time, particulalry as it sharpens my own opinion on the subjects you deftly tackle. GBU.

      • Scott Drysdale says:

        Wendy – very clever of you to implment the bait and switch strategy….obfuscate the original debate and/or argument by interjecting an unrelated argument. Psychologists and Philosophers refer to that as a “QUARREL”…..very effective in confusing others…..especially males whose brains are less able to multitask concurrent arguments…

  3. Kirsti Olson says:

    Thank you for this article! As a Canadian woman whom is also a Christian and one who stands up for the unborn still in the womb, do my convictions and beliefs not matter? According to the Constitution of this country it does! Many young men and women risked and gave their lives so all could have this freedom and I will be forever grateful.
    Our current government is underming all of this and pushing their own agenda, if they get away with this what will be next? I urge Canadians to “wake up” and see what’s happening and fight for our country, cause if we don’t it will become one we won’t recognize.

  4. Naomi Pedersen says:

    Thank you for this article. As a mother of four adopted children, at least one of which was supposed to be aborted, I am offended that Justin would tie pro- abortion to funding. Even without the lovely unaborted children in my home, I do think that when governments start dictating how we must live and believe, that it is a time for citizens to make their voices heard. We do not want to become a country that is ruled body and soul by what ever Prime Minister (and in this case a dictator) feels is his own personal belief. We have seen enough, the collapse of such nations over the history of time. It is important that Canadians work hard to protect their rights.

  5. Sandy Sider says:

    This form that Trudeau is making young people fill out to get a summer job goes against all that Canada stands for. Freedom. Please don’t do this to our youth who are needing summer jobs to help pay for their education.

  6. Doris says:

    I didn’t think we lived in a dictatorship country, but obviously if we dont stand up for our rights thats what it looks like its coming to. Not allowed to agree or disagree with others beliefs without being penalized or discriminated against. Wow just blows my mind. God help us.

  7. Tony says:

    It is sad when those in leadership force their own isms on the rest of the population. Using the power of money to force desperate organisations to give up their own values is unforgivable. It is unacceptable for government to dictate moral values to diverse religious communities. When leaders think they are above their people, it’s time for them to vacate office.

  8. V.Enns says:

    I’m in a Latin American country where the ruling party recently had the Supreme Court rule their opposition party unconstitutional. Our Justin hasn’t visited Parliament much in a long time: Perhaps he soon will show up in order to tell our “progressive” judges to muzzle those whom he too, funds irritating.

  9. Dr. Murray says:

    Sadly, while the issue is mainly reported on as a political, moral or religious matter, the greatest tragedy may be the people without voices who are impacted by this debacle. I’m thinking specifically about children and people with disabilities who might not benefit from summer programs because of the problems associated with the CSJ attestation. I work for SU Canada in Pickering Ontario, a not-for profit agency that runs summer sports camps for +2000 children of all ethnicities, religions and abilities (we also work with about 100 children with disabilities). In the past the CSJ has provided supplementary funding for us to hire 16 university students who get trained to be sports coaches and camp directors (last year we worked in 32 communities in Southern Ontario). Tragically, this may not happen this year because we can’t simply sign the attestation clause. Why? Because the clause could be interpreted as compelling grant applicants to hold specific beliefs to qualify. Note, we respect and abide by the Charter. But the ‘bigger matter’ for SU Canada, and other faith-based organizations, is our rights under the Charter itself. The ‘bigger matter’ then becomes larger than any one of the issues alone, and our understanding is that we cannot sign the attestation as it is because it’s in conflict with the fact that the Charter grants us freedom of religion as guaranteed in s. 2(a), i.e. our freedom to hold whatever beliefs we choose on these matters (as protected under the Charter). So please consider the issue, not just as one of beliefs or rights, but also as one that has a face to it – that of a little girl with cerebral palsy and her family who are in tears because she may not get the joy of being involved in this year’s summer sports camp (with all the benefits of the inclusive programming provided by SU Canada) because the government refuses to discuss, change or remove the problematic elements of the attestation.

  10. Herbert Stead says:

    How dare Mr. Trudeau inject his pro choice abortion stand as a requirement to get a job with Canadian Government. I am a Canadian that believes in the protected rights of the unborn.
    The charter of rights does not recognized the unborn. These are real people in the development of life.
    Without them, there would be no life. Shame on you , Mr. Trudeau, you should defend the rights of all the unborn.
    A note of interest, there has been 59,000,000. Abortions in the US alone since 1973 to 2014,
    the population of Canada twice.

    • Ivan Kirsch says:

      My thoughts exactly. The government has gone to Court for rulings on other matter and backed down when the Courts ruled against them

  11. Jack W. Schenk says:

    Mr. Trudeau is starting to show his real colours. We have the start of a “socialistic dictator” on our hands. The political situation in Canada is becoming very grave to say the least. What will be happening next?

  12. FC says:

    Our PM also hasnt read the law! Guilty of breaching 4 points of law and the Liberals voted against holding him accountable! Hr touts women’s rights but says its “islamophobia” to have law preventing female genital mutilation, beating your wife, and other barbaruc practises! Canadians arr wondering if there is any connectionbetwern what he spews from his mouth and what he does.

  13. Scott Drysdale says:

    To all readers of this article and especially those who took the time to comment………don’t be too harsh and in-your-face with the liberal voters or there will be a backfire effect…..digging in their heels without thinking the issue thru in a logical manner……..that way many of them will see the light and shift away from Liberals or opt for a new liberal leader……assuming there will still be a country after this juggernaut is taken away from the helm.

  14. christopher says:

    Nothing new here . Goebbles made actors sign a pledge to not support Jews in any way otherwise they would receive no government funding. This was the beginning of the perseceution against the Jews.

    • Albert Kuyerhuis says:

      Re Christopher’s comment about Goebbles (a Hitler henchman in Nazi Germany), refusal to sign the Nazi pledge for the culture chamber went beyond government program funding. It served more like a ‘closed shop’. Without the pledge NO EMPLOYMENT.

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