Legal action pondered on Canada Summer Jobs attestation

  • May 30, 2018

OTTAWA – Several Christian organizations, including the Catholic Civil Rights League, are exploring legal options to fight the Canada Summer Jobs pro-abortion attestation.

“The League is actively in discussions with various groups contemplating our future steps,” said League president Phil Horgan. “We were pleased to see the groups such as the B.C. Civil Liberties Association intervene in support of Toronto Right to Life.” 

Toronto Right to Life Association is one of two legal actions against the federal Employment Minister for the mandatory attestation that the group’s core mandate supports the Charter and underlying values, including, as explained on the government website, a “right” to abortion.

A second lawsuit involves an Alberta family-owned business that is being represented by the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms. 

The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC) is looking at both those cases “as well as other possible challenges to the attestation,” said Julia Beazley, the EFC’s director of public policy.  “We are collaborating with the Canadian Council of Christian Charities and Christian Legal Fellowship on a legal strategy. The EFC plans to intervene in one or more cases.” 

The legal route is being explored just as an Angus Reid poll emerged showing Canadians are evenly split (50-50) on the fairness of the attestation requirement. When it comes to Canadians’ views on abortion, the poll showed 39 per cent want no laws on abortion, with a woman having a “right to the procedure at any time in pregnancy.”

Only 12 per cent of Canadian respondents want severe restrictions on abortion, while 49 per cent want some restrictions, such as limits on late-term pregnancies.

Horgan said the League is in discussions with other groups about legal action against the attestation, and is “considering its options as one of the groups denied funding” in 2017, before the attestation policy was put in place for 2018 applications. The Toronto Right to Life Association sued the federal government and won after it was denied funding in 2017 with no explanation. 

The Canadian Council of Christian Charities is actively raising money to support a legal challenge. 

Dozens of Catholic organizations, including cathedral parishes in two dioceses, did receive Canada Summer Jobs grants that the bishops have asked to be returned. 

However, the EFC has discovered a small number of groups that objected to the attestation did receive funding.  

“We’ve heard about more than 20 evangelical groups who sent in their applications with either alternative attestations or qualifying letters and were approved,” Beazley said.

“The only consistency is that these groups all checked the box, while still expressing their objection or qualification in some way,” she said. “However, there were many, many other groups who did the same and were denied.”

Beazley said this difference in treatment is potentially “divisive.”

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