Religious groups in Maple Ridge will be asked to conform to the federal government’s views on abortion and other rights and freedoms in order to get federal funding, charges former Conservative Party candidate Mike Murray.
Murray said the government’s “values test” is being attached to employment grants.
He worked on the Canada Summer Jobs file when he was constituency assistant to former MP Randy Kamp, and said there are numerous Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows churches and faith-based groups that apply for funding.
“They have to go against their conscience, or they will not get funding,” said Murray, who ran for the Conservatives in the last federal election. “I think that there are a lot of faith organizations or religious groups who feel [Prime Minister Justin] Trudeau is putting a value test on them.”
At issue is an attestation applicants must agree to when they apply for funding under the Canada Summer Jobs program.
The funding overview states: “The government recognizes that women’s rights are human rights. This includes sexual and reproductive rights — and the right to access safe and legal abortions. These rights are at the core of the Government of Canada’s foreign and domestic policies.”
Canada Summer Jobs applicants are required to attest that the job and the organization’s core mandate respect human rights in Canada, including those in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
“These include reproductive rights and the right to be free from discrimination on the basis of sex, religion, race, national or ethnic origin, colour, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation or gender identity or expression,” says the program guide.
Murray, who is pro-life wonders why abortion is being tied to funding for youth groups and camps and catholic organizations?
He said freedom of religion, thought and expression are guaranteed under the Charter of Rights, and the government can’t punish people whose values differ from theirs.
Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows MP Dan Ruimy said the government is not asking anyone to change their views. However, Ottawa is making it clear it does not intend to fund students working to promote a pro-life lobby.
He said the government would also not fund a student working for an anti-immigration or anti-LGTBQ organization or cause, either.
“Would you want to see the federal government support that? No,” he said. “There has to be some criteria.
“What are you doing with the student? That’s what matters,” he added.
“People want to make it about abortion, but it’s about following the Charter of Rights. There’s federal money being given out – you have to abide by the Charter of Rights,” Ruimy added.
“Nobody is saying you have to change your opinions or your views.”