By Michael Swan
TORONTO, Canada (The Catholic Register) – Despite a federal court ruling it was “reasonable” for the federal government to require Canada Summer Jobs program applicants to support abortion rights, pro-life groups say the decision still discriminates against those who defend unborn lives.
Campaign Life Coalition called the ruling “a terrible decision.”
In an e-mail to The Catholic Register Campaign Life national president Jeff Gunnarson labelled it “an affront to the principle of equality under the law, enshrined under Section 15 of the Charter.”
It amounts to “naked discrimination” against pro-life Canadians, he said.
“The judge has said that it’s OK for the government to discriminate against pro-life citizens who hold that life is sacred from conception and that preborn children deserve legal protection,” Gunnarson said.
Justice Catherine Kane ruled October 22 it was “reasonable” for the federal government to demand applicants to a summer jobs program declare they supported abortion rights in order to obtain funding in the case that pitted Toronto Right to Life against the Minister of Employment, Workforce and Labour.
While the attestation requirement – introduced in December 2017 but changed in 2019 after protests from religious and pro-life groups – infringed on the Charter-protected religious liberty rights of then Toronto Right to Life president Blaise Alleyne, the infringement strikes a reasonable balance between Alleyne’s religious liberty rights and the legitimate purpose of government policy, according to Kane.
The controversy began when the Canada Summer Jobs program imposed an attestation requiring applicants to agree that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms “recognizes that women’s rights are human rights. This includes sexual and reproductive rights – and the right to access safe and legal abortions.” For any application to be accepted for review, the applicant had to tick a box agreeing to this statement and endorsing the right to abortion.
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