NDP criticizes way Liberals added abortion rights criteria to jobs program

OTTAWA — The federal NDP is joining the criticism of the Trudeau government’s decision to force groups applying for summer-job grants to affirm their respect for a woman’s right to have an abortion.

“I can remember Stephen Harper doing something similar at the other end, where he was denying funding to aid groups who worked overseas that didn’t hold his personal (anti-abortion) beliefs,” NDP ethics critic Nathan Cullen said Wednesday.

“Whenever a prime minister does this, it’s dangerous. If it wasn’t right for Mr. Harper to do it when he was in power, it’s certainly not right for Mr. Trudeau to do the same thing in another direction when he becomes prime minister.”

The Liberals recently introduced the new requirement for the Canada Summer Jobs program, which has provided grants to employers for years to help subsidize the cost of hiring students for summer work. It stipulates that an applicant must affirm that both the job description and the group’s core mandate respect human rights, including reproductive rights.

But the move has sparked outrage from churches and other faith-based organizations, who say they are being forced to choose between their spiritual values and funding that helps run programs that have nothing to do with abortion.

Employment and Social Development Canada issued a clarification Tuesday, indicating that the core mandate concerns the primary activities of the organization, not its values or beliefs.

The clarification has not calmed all fears. A coalition of different organizations is scheduled to release Thursday a statement signed by 80 religious leaders, institutions and other groups calling on the government to revise the policy.

The Canada Summer Jobs program created nearly 69,000 temporary jobs last year.

Speaking on the sidelines of a two-day caucus retreat in Ottawa, Cullen said the NDP has heard from many groups worried about the policy, and that the real test should be whether the funding goes to summer jobs that have a positive purpose.

“There are many community groups who are faith-based who apply and receive summer grants who do amazing work, that don’t proselytize or promote any issues that would be hard for Canadians to hear,” he told reporters.

“If there are Charter (of Rights and Freedoms) questions, that’s a totally separate conversation. We have a charter, it’s enforced by the courts and the police. Let it do its job. Otherwise, it seems like meddling.”

Cullen was adamant in a follow-up interview that the NDP remains firmly committed to a woman’s right to choose, and that any groups whose main purpose is to infringe on that right should be banned from federal funding.

“I think the way that (the government) explained this and I think the way they rolled this out was either unintended or not properly done,” he said.

“To define properly what this needs to be in terms of who can apply and who can’t is an important question for the government, and I don’t think they’ve done a good job of that. That’s my criticism.”

Federal Conservative leader Andrew Scheer used his own party’s caucus retreat in Victoria, B.C., to echo his previous attack on the Liberal summer-jobs funding policy.

“They claim to be tolerant, open and accepting and celebrating diversity,” he said, “and then they make community organizations submit to the Trudeau values test before they receive any federal funding.”

Just Posted

Rollover on Hwy 2 near Red Deer

Driver sustains minor injuries

City of Red Deer gets ball rolling on annexing more land

”It’s important we look ahead,” says Mayor Veer

Walmart melding online and in-store shopping

South Red Deer Walmart recently underwent six months of renovations

Video: Windows smashed at three Red Deer businesses

Red Deer RCMP arrest man after vandalism spree

NHL stays with status quo as Canada pot legalization looms

As Riley Cote took and delivered countless punches over more than a… Continue reading

Paul Stanley: Kiss farewell tour could include ex-members

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — It won’t be all night, but former members… Continue reading

Judge tosses Stormy Daniels’ defamation suit against Trump

WASHINGTON — A federal judge dismissed Stormy Daniels’ defamation lawsuit against President… Continue reading

Canada open to growing trade with China now that USMCA is a done deal: PM

TORONTO — Canada is open to doing more business with China now… Continue reading

Pot shop raids “highly unlikely” on Wednesday: head of police chiefs

VANCOUVER — Police departments across Canada are fully prepared for marijuana legalization… Continue reading

Campers will be able to smoke cannabis at campsites in Canada’s national parks

Parks Canada says visitors should do their research on cannabis before going… Continue reading

U.S. pot firms urge Trump to deny Canadian producers’ ‘competitive advantage’

WASHINGTON — An American cannabis producer is warning President Donald Trump that… Continue reading

Automated cars could kill wide range of jobs, federal documents say

OTTAWA — More than one million jobs could be lost to the… Continue reading

Most Read