Trudeau widely mocked for claiming to support freedom of expression

By Jonathon Van Maren

As I wrote last week, the Conservatives are having a field day in the House of Commons after discovering that Justin Trudeau’s Liberals are funding an organization that exists almost solely to stop a project the Liberals have been promising loudly will definitely get built—the Kinder Morgan pipeline. In fact, the funding from Trudeau’s government is going specifically to pay an organizer to get people to protest the pipeline in order to halt the project. Trudeau, visibly frustrated that he was being called on his hypocrisy, triggered outrage and gales of laughter in Parliament when he snapped that, “we will not remove funding from advocacy organizations because we as a government happen to disagree with them!”

Unfortunately for Trudeau, a quick survey of the reaction to his hilarious attempt to take the moral high ground on freedom of speech shows that nobody is taking him very seriously—and that no one believes he actually has any commitment to protecting such freedoms. Here’s Rob Breakenridge of Global News:

It is true that this [environmentalist] group has previously received Canada Summer Jobs program grants, money that was doled out while the Harper Conservatives were in power. And yes, there were pipelines to be scuttled then, too. But to cite that previous funding as a defence of the Liberals’ current approach is to rather miss the point.

As we’ve seen in recent days, the Conservative Party is no fan of Dogwood or the idea of the group being on the receiving end of any federal dollars. Yet the Conservatives did nothing to block or deny those while they were in power. Why, it’s almost as though there was no political litmus test for the summer jobs program back then…The issue isn’t so much that Dogwood has once again secured federal funding. It’s that those same grants are now being denied to groups who have previously received it. The Liberals have set a political threshold for saying, “no.” So it’s fair to criticize them for not only that approach, but the fact that their net has ensnared charities and summer camps, yet not the avowed enemies of a multi-billion-dollar piece of needed energy infrastructure.

Yet in the House of Commons this week, the prime minister had the gall to defend the grant to Dogwood on the basis of free speech, proclaiming that “We will always support the right of Canadians to express themselves.” If only that were true…

The Liberals can’t have it both ways: they can’t justify the denial of funds to a cohort of groups on the basis that they’re undermining the government’s efforts and values while simultaneously defending the funding of other groups that also undermine the government’s efforts and values. The Liberals needlessly politicized this program and have only themselves to blame for this untenable mess. They either need to scrap the attestation or scrap the program altogether.

And then there’s John Ibbitson over in the Globe and Mail:

The Trudeau government refuses job grants to students who would have worked at summer camps and soup kitchens, but happily gives money to students to organize pipeline protests. The government has an explanation, but it doesn’t matter. Your jaw dropped when you first heard about this. That matters.

The summer jobs flap is simply the latest act that’s bound to alienate voters who are Conservative-Liberal switchers − who, by the way, decide elections…Liberal strategists believe that, to win elections, they must have progressive policies that will keep NDP-Liberal switchers on their side. And Mr. Trudeau is, by nature, strongly progressive on social issues.

But Liberals don’t lose elections to New Democrats. They lose to Conservatives. 

And Licia Corbella in the Calgary Herald:

The Mustard Seed Street Ministry — and thousands of other faith-based organizations like it — got zero Canada Summer Jobs funding from the federal government to help feed, house, clothe, train and love Alberta’s most vulnerable and poor citizens experiencing homelessness.

Many faith-based organizations were denied funding from the federal program owing to them refusing to sell their souls for a few pieces of silver. Trudeau and his government insisted that to qualify for a grant to hire university students, the applying organization had to sign an attestation stating that the organization’s core mandate respects “reproductive rights.”

As Steve Wile, CEO of The Mustard Seed, says, the Christian aid organization has never had to take a stand on abortion before because its core mandate is to minister to tens of thousands of poor and addicted people in Calgary, Red Deer and Edmonton. Nevertheless, the wording of the attestation made it impossible to sign, since it required applicants to essentially agree with the federal Liberal party platform on abortion.

Last year, The Seed received federal funding to hire 17 students to work across Alberta. This year, The Seed got nothing. As a result, the organization only hired six students, partly from $30,000 that came in from church folk following news coverage of the attestation controversy.…

Naturally, the House erupted at Trudeau’s Orwellian answer. When the Speaker settled everyone down, Trudeau continued saying: “On the issue of this particular advocacy group, it is important to highlight that it was also funded under the Harper government.”

Trudeau’s own words prove the opposite of what he constantly tries to say about the former Harper government. Citizens’ access to government programs was not based on the beliefs of the recipients. It’s the federal Liberals who are doing that, something that has been condemned even by pro-abortion groups.

“We will not remove funding from advocacy organizations because we as a government happen to disagree with them,” Trudeau said. Naturally, the House went ballistic at that comment and the PM’s use of divisive identity politics. 

“Mr. Speaker, what the prime minister just said will come as a great surprise to the member for Bonavista-Gander-Grand Falls-Windsor,” said Scheer, referring to Liberal MP Scott Simms, who lost his committee position after voting against his own government’s stance on summer jobs grants.

I wonder if Trudeau or his Liberals have noticed that nobody is buying what they’re selling. They have been attempting to blunt the criticism of their abortion attestation by painting pro-life groups as beyond the pale and insisting that they are champions of the Charter, but it has all been to no avail. It has been months since the story broke, and with the exception of handful of abortion activists, everyone is still disgusted with the move—and many long-time political watchers are predicting that it will hurt Trudeau in 2019.

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For anyone interested, my books: The Culture War, Seeing is Believing: Why Our Culture Must Face the Victims of Abortion, and How To Discuss Assisted Suicide, are available for sale here

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