Cuts Both Ways

Anti-abortion Conservatives have hilariously short memories

Editorial | by Stephen Whitworth

Look out: Justin Trudeau’s Liberals have attacked religious freedom! A new stipulation on a federal government summer job grant program requires employers to state they support (among other things) reproductive rights.

In other words: no student job grants for anti-abortion organizations.

Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer, who’s also Regina–Qu’appelle’s Member of Parliament, told reporters this change is an infringement on religious speech: “I believe that the federal government should respect the freedoms that Canadians enjoy to have different beliefs and that … imposing [the] personal values of Justin Trudeau on a wide variety of groups is not an appropriate way to go,” he said in a Jan. 12 CBC story.

Scheer’s concerns aside, the new rule ironically exists thanks to one of Trudeau’s own MPs. According to an April 17, 2017 iPolitics story, Liberal Member Of Parliament Iqra Khalid approved (mistakenly, her office says) a $54,000 student summer job grant for an anti-abortion group, the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform.

The CCBR is one of those deranged outfits that sends its minions out to street corners with gruesome, blown-up photos of mangled fetuses.¹ The Centre’s summer internships are for students who are “passionate for pre-born babies” and “want to spare them from being killed by abortion.”²

In other words, the CCBR wants to use government grants (or “my hard-earned tax dollars, as conservatives call them whenever they object to a government program) to pay its flying monkeys to wave gory placards at strangers.³


To be fair, reasonable-sounding arguments can be made against the new rule. After all, we live in a country that tolerates different views, and religious Canadians have an absolute right to believe abortion is somehow morally wrong even though that’s superstitious nonsense. (They also have the right to believe premarital sex is a sin, birth control is wicked, same-sex marriage is immoral, and the earth is 6,000 years old and flat.)

But religious Canadians don’t have a right to government job funding – especially when they belong to weird fetus cults that actively fight to restrict or ban abortion, a legitimate and necessary medical procedure.

Besides, Governments are allowed to set parameters on job programs. Why should federal grant money pay for attacks on Canadians’ hard-won rights?⁴

It might trample the CCBR’s freedom a little bit, but I’m okay with the government blocking funding to organizations that harass Canadians with horrible propaganda posters.

It could lead to interesting court battles but I suspect Canadian law isn’t likely to protect anti-abortionists’ “right” to attack human rights as a right itself.

Which brings us to the hilarious hypocrisy of this situation. As usual, conservatives are quick to complain about their rights being infringed upon but these same snowflakes seem to have forgotten all the right-wing abuse the rest of us had to put up with under their Prime Minister. Anti-abortionists think Trudeau is abusing his power? He’s got nothing on Stephen Harper, whose pro-fossil fuel government weaponized Revenue Canada to audit environmental charities, as well as muzzled scientists, destroyed their work and defunded their research.

And let’s not forget the Harper government’s cuts to women’s organizations and its refusal to investigate the crisis of missing and murdered indigenous women.

And let’s not forget the $400,000 Harper’s government pulled from Toronto’s Pride festival in 2010.

If Scheer was paying attention all those years when he was Speaker of the House of Commons, he’d know all about the selective use of government power for political purposes. He should be the last person surprised when the vocally pro-choice Trudeau government takes action to block federal job funding for Scheer’s radical anti-abortion friends.

The final twist in this drama is a chorus of outraged chirps by U.S. Republicans, Fox news hosts and Trump supporters condemning our prime minister. South of the border, the people who vote for lying, pussy-grabbing misogynists over qualified women candidates have made their feelings clear.

I suspect our prime minister can live without their support.

In the end, it’s all just another example of how 21st century conservatives can dish it out but they can’t take it.

At least the CCBR can take comfort that one Canadian political party is endlessly loyal to Christian extremists. Even if that makes Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives unelectable.

This column has been edited since publication.

  1. According to the CCBR’S website — feel free to Google it. Maybe not while you’re eating lunch.
  2. Ibid.
  3. And yet groups like the CCBR never back policies that would reduce abortion. Universal childcare, pharmacare and massively expanded affordable housing as well as a liveable minimum wage are all things that help women facing unplanned pregnancies. Sex education and free birth control would reduce those pregnancies, too. But you’ll never hear these outfits argue for things that might mean higher taxes, let alone any policy that could be seen as pro-sex. What a pack of jerks.
  4. Canada’s anti-abortion movement concedes a full abortion ban is a political impossibility in the short term. That’s why it uses a slippery-slope strategy: give parents a legal veto over their teen’s abortions (“We Need A Law”), outlaw late-term abortions and that kind of thing. Step by step, they’ll roll back women’s rights. It’s a smart, sneaky plan.

6 thoughts on “Cuts Both Ways”

  1. When the Cons passed their “Religious Freedom” bill it was intended to empower Evangelist intolerant nutcases to pursue their crusading agenda to force their religious views down everyone’s throats. It’s what religious extremists do. I applaud the Feds for not allowing them any of “my tax dollars” to fund religious quackery.

  2. Speaking of tax dollars, mine or yours or theirs, it strikes me that most of the complaining outfits whether they be nut jobs like you highlight here or the Catholic church in IIRC the maritimes, are all non tax paying entities and as such have absolutely no right to hold out their collective hands for some of said tax monies. I find this an aspect of this matter that has been completely ignored.

  3. I will begin stating for the record that I am a moderate on this issue although this statement will immediately be ignored since neither side of this issue recognizes moderation or mitigation.

    For starters, these alleged “reproductive rights” do not exist. Are they in the Charter of Rights? No. Are they in the Saskatchewan Human Rights Code? No. They are not documented anywhere. They are asserted as a “right” only in the minds of the pro-choice movement.

    R. v. Morgentaler did not rule that women had a right to unlimited abortion on demand. It stated that the previous abortion laws were an excessive infringement on the right of personal liberty. The court invited parliament to draft new laws that were not an excessive infringement. Bertha Wilson, the most feminist of the justices (and first woman S.C. justice ever) stated unequivocally that a woman’s right to personal sovereignty was not unlimited and that the state had a legitimate interest in the well-being of the fetus.

    The current imbalance in Canada is demonstrated by the contrast with every other Western country, including those social democratic paradises in Scandinavia so beloved by the left. All of them have abortion laws that are perfectly reasonable and moderate except to the frothing-at-the-mouth fanatics in both the Canadian pro-choice and pro-life movements. All Scandinavian countries have abortion on demand up to 12 weeks and thereafter only on approval by a doctor under special circumstances (e.g. fetus not viable or danger to mother’s life). Denmark even requires mothers under 18 to obtain parental consent.

    All of these countries have had these laws in place since the 70s with no evidence of any “slippery slope”. What it takes for such laws to be stable in the long term is for both sides to step back, quit frothing for a second and give some grudging acknowledgement that the other side actually has a frickin’ point. And that won’t happen if both sides run around screaming about infringement on their “rights”, real or imagined.

    As for hilariously short memories, it’s worth reminding that, while they certainly had their faults, under the Conservative government, Foreign Affairs was vocal in condemning homophobic policies abroad and made a special effort to welcome LGBT refugees from Iran. Further, Jason Kenney (yes, that Jason Kenney) while Immigration Minister ordered an update to the citizenship guide to include the phrase “Canada’s diversity includes gay and lesbian Canadians, who enjoy the full protection of and equal treatment under the law, including access to civil marriage.” which somehow the Liberals forgot to get around to doing.

    Cherry-picking is an easy rhetorical game, Stephen, but it does nothing to further reasonable discussion.

  4. Reasonable discussion isn’t reasonable when access to abortion is under attack.

  5. Speaking of slippery slopes … is having a discussion about regulating abortion the same thing as attacking access to abortion? That certainly seems to be the rule whenever someone expresses a view that varies even mildly from pro-choice orthodoxy.

    But let’s get back to the main issue which has slippery slope questions of its own: where does ideological interference into non-ideological programs end? Canada Summer Jobs has one objective – to create jobs for students. It’s not meant to create jobs only for students who agree with the Liberal agenda. So, no, as you rightly note, the organizations do not have a right to receive government funding but they do have a reasonable expectation to be judged on their merits according to the objectives of the program and not on the basis of artificial ideological parameters.

    Your article also focused exclusively on explicitly anti-abortion groups (I expect because they were an easy propaganda target) and ignored the concerns raised by Catholic churches, summer Bible camps etc. – perfectly reasonable organizations, not “weird fetus cults”, but who nonetheless are having trouble promising something that the government has absolutely no right making them promise.

    Finally, for the record, moral reservations about abortion, especially late term abortion, is not just some “superstitious nonsense” believed only by religious kooks. Plenty of agnostics, atheists and other moderate people believe that as well for logical, not kooky, reasons. But, again, I’m beating my head against a wall since the pro-choice movement believes that anyone who disagrees with them even slightly is evil and insane. Great way to have a conversation.

  6. Depends but usually yes. Not the same level of attack as standing outside a clinic harassing patients, obviously.

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