Charities gear up to sue the Trudeau government

By Jonathon Van Maren

As always, Rex Murphy’s comments are pure gold—and he has now weighed in on the revelations that Justin Trudeau’s government is funding anti-pipeline activists (claiming that they will not withhold funding from an organization just because they disagree with its advocacy) while denying funding to groups that refuse to sign off on the abortion attestation they inserted into the Canada Summer Jobs Program. Murphy must have been salivating as he sat down to harpoon this latest hypocrisy:

No summer jobs for Catholics, Evangelists, any religion of any origin that holds the sanctity of life as high doctrine, if they do not abjure a cardinal element of their faiths. In other words, consent to lie, or give in to forced speech — a blatant and explicit violation of the guarantees of the Charter of Rights on free speech and freedom of religion. That same Charter that Mr. Trudeau regards as the second set of tablets brought down from on high — this time from Mount Royal as opposed to Mount Sinai — and evidently more binding than the first. Abortion is his shibboleth … you may not sit in caucus, run as a candidate, or apply even for summer jobs, if your views on abortion are not in full feminist 2015 concordance with his.

Then in an exquisitely deft turn, as supple as any acrobat in Cirque du Soleil, he proclaimed his fierce “dedication to free speech” to explain the funding of a political environmentalist activist group to work against his own government’s policy. 

As commentators continue to express nearly unanimous disbelief at Trudeau’s overtly deceitful triangulations, the situation continues to worsen for the Liberal government as new lawsuits emerge to keep the story front and center. It turns out that when Employment Minister Patty Hadju claimed that her office had “heard a whole bunch of complaints” about pro-life groups receiving funding, there were only six—and all but one of them were form letters from the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada, a tiny organization run part-time by Vancouver abortion extremist Joyce Arthur. From the National Post:

The legal battle over the government’s Canada Summer Jobs attestation is only just beginning, as the allegations pile up in one case while other groups who were denied funding prepare their own Charter challenges. New documents in an ongoing Federal Court challenge were filed on Friday, with the Toronto Right to Life Association arguing the government’s evidence shows it conducted itself in bad faith. The case already includes an affidavit filed by a senior public servant that reveals for the first time how the government considered multiple options before choosing the attestation. Toronto Right to Life is further alleging the government has withheld documents, and is seeking access to legal opinions and other memos prepared around the attestation.

Third-party groups are also joining the fray, with the B.C. Civil Liberties Association seeking to join the challenge against the government, and the pro-choice Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights already approved as an intervenor on the government’s side. Meanwhile, now that the funding decisions have been made, a floodgate on litigation could open from rejected groups. To qualify for grants this year, applicants had to sign an unmodified attestation saying both the job and the organization’s “core mandate” respect reproductive rights, as well as other “values underlying the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”

A small irrigation company near Brooks, Alta., filed a Charter challenge on Thursday arguing their rejection over refusing to sign the attestation was illegal on numerous grounds, including as a violation of their right to freedom of conscience and as an unlawful attempt “to subject private entities to the legal obligations of the Charter.” The challenge is being sponsored by the Alberta-based Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms.

Christian organizations are also preparing their cases.

“We are definitely in discussion with legal counsel and we have twenty-plus charities right now that are wanting to be part of a legal challenge,” said Barry Bussey, legal affairs director for the Canadian Council of Christian Charities. “We are basically looking at the various options as to what is the best road forward…I would anticipate that in the coming days we will be making some decisions.” 

…In looking to join the case, the B.C. Civil Liberties Association says it won’t be arguing the government doesn’t have the right to set funding priorities.

“Instead, the BCCLA would take the position that the mechanism the (government) chose to employ in this case — the attestation of holding certain beliefs — would, in the BCCLA’s view, attach an unconstitutional condition that is unrelated to the program.”

As an aside, the B.C. Civil Liberties Association is a pro-choice group. They simply recognize what nearly everyone has recognized since Trudeau triggered this “kerfuffle”: That creating an ideological test to determine whether an organization is eligible for a government program is a dangerous precedent.

After all, if the Conservatives tried the same thing, I’m sure the thunderous outrage from the Liberal side would stretch on for months.

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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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