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Labour Minister holds the Liberal line on abortion and Canada Summer Jobs

Labour Minister holds the Liberal line on abortion and Canada Summer Jobs
From CBC - January 24, 2018

Labour Minister PattyHajdustrived Tuesday to return to the start of the furor over the federal government's Canada Summer Jobs program anda pitched debate about rights, beliefs, freedoms and the power of the state.

It all goes back to the application form through which organizations apply for federal summer jobs funding, and the new requirement thatapplicants must check a box affirming they respect the values set out in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms includingreproductive rights.Churches and faith groups have complainedthat their right to religious belief is not being respected and that otherwise valuable projects will go unfunded.

But the government, Hajdu said, had heard complaints that some groups, namely theCalgary-based Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform, were using the funds from federal grants to "create graphic pamphlets that featured aborted fetuses as a way to shame women about reproductive rights." Other summer jobs grants were going to camps that "refused to hire members of the LGBTQ community," she said.

The editorial boards of the Globe and Mail,National PostandToronto Starreprimanded the Liberals. Conservativeleader Andrew Scheeraccusedthe Prime Minister of "imposing" his values on faith groups. And a Liberal MP has publicly expressed his misgivings.

But Hajduis unmoved.

"In order for organizations to receive funding, they have to affirm that they will not actively work to undermine the rights of Canadians," she said in Toronto Tuesday.

Put that way, it seems simple.

ButHajduis still having to explain herself, soit obviously is not.

The Liberal line on abortion

It's clearlywithin the purview of the federal government to decide how public funds will be allocated, whether Liberal or Conservative. The previous Conservative government, for instance,refused to fund abortion services overseas. TheTrudeau government reversed that decision.

And the Liberals' tough stance on summer jobs is not without precedent. In 2014, Liberal MPs were told they wouldno longer be allowed a free vote of "conscience"on any bill or motion that sought to restrict a woman's access to abortion services.

There was outcry then, too. But the notion of a consciencevote is afuzzy concept.Members of political parties are typically bound by certain positions. The only individuals impacted by Trudeau's edict were those who sat, or hoped to sit, as Liberal MPs.

Handing out government grants to hire high school and university students for the summer months is proving more complicated.

'Not about beliefs or values'

The Liberals have struggled to land on an acceptable line between the use of funds for anti-abortion purposesand the use of funds by a church or religious organization that happens to believe abortion is immoral.

'The government's coercion'

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