The following was recently written and circulated by John Barlow, Member of Parliment for Foothills in Alberta:
I want to bring to your attention substantial changes brought forward by the Liberal Government to the rules around which employers can qualify for funding through the Canada Summer Jobs program. These changes ostracize groups or individuals who disagree with the Liberal policy platform on abortion or LGBTQ2. Due to these changes, some applicants will no longer be eligible for funding and many students will not find work because of this discriminatory decision.
Under the new rules, organizations wishing to participate in the Canada Summer Jobs program will be required to attest they respect reproductive rights and gender identity and expression. As Canadians, I think we can all agree, protecting Human Rights is vitally important. However, while this declaration asserts reproductive and gender rights as a human right in Canada, it simultaneously abolishes the right to freedom of belief and opinion, which is guaranteed by Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The Liberals are basing funding decisions on whether or not you hold a certain belief, and whether or not that belief aligns with Justin Trudeau’s political policy opinion on abortion, gay marriage and transgendered rights.
This policy isn’t about supporting and promoting the activities or services an organization is engaged in within a community. This policy targets the personal beliefs of the individuals who run those organizations, and penalizes the organization and students as a whole for not aligning their beliefs with those of the Liberal Party.
Canadians are allowed to have different opinions from the governing party, that is what a true and free democratic country is founded upon. This new attestation in the Canada Summer Jobs program is the beginning of a slippery slope of prejudice and discrimination against Canadians for their religious beliefs.
I share the writing above not to support a political candidate or party but to draw attention to a policy which, if as described, will affect many of our churches across Western Canada. The moral considerations regarding discrimination has a couple different faces. Do we only want rulings that favour those who think like us? If a professing Christ follower understands the scripture as against discrimination of LGBTQ2 but reads it as standing against same sex marriage, is that person discriminating? Does the State have the right to command allowable religious beliefs? If diversity is essential for our culture today, does the more conservative end of the Church necessarily get the short end of the stick and marginalization? Polarization often brings an end to conversation.
Again if this is true and if maneuvers like this occur, what will it mean for the future of faith-based hospitals, summer camps, street missions, many food banks, or even general volunteerism?
I do not have immediate answers for every possible moral code violation and I admit political decisions can be difficult. I am for freedom of each one to practice their religion, but I am against hatred and unjust discrimination. My hope would be for more conversation before legislation. Let us pray for those in authority over us, for justice and for a proper approach to injustice on the many levels of our governmental rulings. If the eventual ruling is not quite as restricting as the MP implies, then I apologize now for the anxiety I may have fostered.
Your fellow-worker, Dennis