Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau defended his government’s funding of an anti-oil pipeline protest group on the grounds of “free speech” — even as that same government is denying funding to organizations that oppose abortion and the LGBT agenda.
During Wednesday’s question period in the House of Commons, Conservative Members of Parliament took the Liberal prime minister to task for his seeming hypocrisy.
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer revealed that through the Canada Summer Jobs (CSJ) program, the government is funding a $15-an-hour summer job with the British Columbia-based nonprofit Dogwood BC whose description includes “help[ing] ... stop the Kinder Morgan pipeline and tanker project.”
The Trans Mountain Pipeline is being constructed by energy firm Kinder Morgan. According to HuffPost Canada, “The idea behind Trans Mountain is to get Alberta’s oilsands bitumen to tidewater, opening up new markets for Canada’s oil beyond the U.S., its only real oil customer — a situation Trudeau says forces Canada to take a big hit on the price it gets.” Indeed, notes the website, “Trudeau has been unequivocal in declaring his government’s support for the project,” which has been stalled by both protesters and provincial governments.
Scheer pointed out the immorality of the government’s funding the pipeline’s opposition. “We are talking about taking tax dollars from people who are out of work in the energy sector and giving it to people who are trying to block a project in the national interest,” he said.
Trudeau responded, correctly, that Dogwood has received government funding for the same type of job for several years, including under his predecessor, Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper. In fact, Dogwood spokesman Kai Nagata told the National Post, “We’ve basically copied and pasted the same applications every year. I can’t recall anything changing on our side when the government changed.”
Trudeau accused Conservatives of trying to politicize the CSJ program, saying, “Unlike, apparently, the leader of the official Opposition, we believe in free speech.”
That was too much for Scheer, who retorted, “There is nobody who believes that the prime minister is committed to free speech when he punishes all those in this country who do not agree with his personal point of view.”
Scheer was referring to the Trudeau administration’s newly imposed requirement that all applicants for CSJ funding, whether employers or students seeking employment, attest that their “core mandate” respects “reproductive rights and the right to be free from discrimination on the basis of sex, religion, race, national or ethnic origin, color, mental or physical disability or sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression.”
Religious employers, many of whom hire students as summer camp counselors, balked at signing onto such a statement. The National Post reports that while the number of CSJ applications has changed little since last year, the number of rejections “skyrocketed over the attestation.” Writes the paper:
Neil MacCarthy, spokesperson for the Catholic Archdiocese of Toronto, said the free speech defense is a tough one to hear now from Trudeau. The parishes and charities in the archdiocese had applied for $1.1 million in summer jobs funding this year, but had their forms rejected over the attestation.
“We would expect that the principle of freedom of speech would apply equally to all Canadians on all issues,” he said. “The only consistency on this file seems to be inconsistency in the way it has been communicated, interpreted and implemented.”
Scheer’s exposure of Trudeau’s inconsistency failed to overcome the prime minister’s devotion to the cultural Left’s agenda, especially abortion rights. “The commitment that this government has made to stand up and defend reproductive rights and the rights of women at every single opportunity is one that sticks in their [Christians’ and Conservatives’] craw,” he declared. “We will not apologize for ensuring that women’s rights are protected across this country.”
While Trudeau’s actions are regrettable, the real problem isn’t the inevitable politicization of government funding but the fact that such funding exists in the first place and that Christian organizations have become dependent on it. “You cannot serve both God and money,” said Jesus. Christians in Canada — and around the world — will have to decide which master they are going to serve and then be willing to accept the consequences of that decision.
Photo of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: AP Images