Response to editorial on summer grant funding
I bring to your readers’ attention a very different and more accurate perspective than the one expressed in the recent editorial, "Give us your money, but not your rules" (February 7, 2018) regarding the Liberal government’s disputed policy on summer jobs. I believe that your own position, in a nutshell, can be aptly summarized from your editorial: “Does the Conference of Bishops (all unmarried males) really believe that any appeal to ‘freedom of religion’ trumps federal law? Where and when did we agree that our charters and legal heritage are subservient to religious beliefs? Do the bishops really believe all religious beliefs are superior to civil law?”
Those who oppose the Liberal government’s policy are not making the claims that you attribute to them. They are defending their Charter rights to freedom of religion, freedom of conscience, and freedom to criticize the current Canadian law—or lack thereof—on abortion.
This alternative and more accurate perspective on the Liberal summer-jobs policy was articulated clearly and convincingly by the Globe and Mail in a recent article and editorial. In the article in question, the Globe and Mail journalist, John Ibbitson (“Liberals must remember their values aren’t the only ones that count”; Globe and Mail, January 18, 2018) set the record straight, as follows:
“Thousands of student summer-job grants, along with a brand-new community-service program, have been rendered unavailable to organizations and people of faith, thanks to an obnoxious Liberal values oath ... “
Mr Ibbitson quoted Professor Jason MacLean, a law professor at the University of Saskatchewan ... that the declaration would probably not survive a Charter challenge “because it infringes the fundamental right of freedom of religion and conscience in a way that is not justifiable”.
On January 19, 2018, the Globe and Mail’s editorial was no less critical of the Liberal policy. The G&M editorial (“In Canada, abortion is a right. But so is criticizing it”), included the following excerpts:
“This year, groups that want money have to tick a box saying their ‘core mandate’ respects the right to have an abortion.
“That has set off objections from faith groups who feel that they are being compelled to express support for something they regard as immoral in order to qualify for programs they thought would be open to all Canadians. ...
“Mr Trudeau says [not in the application form] that groups who ‘have the explicit purpose of limiting and eliminating Charter rights will not be eligible for summer job grants. [And] most pro-life groups are not physically limiting anyone's access to it. ...”
I hope that in the interests of unbiased journalism, the Bulletin will print my letter. I read the editorials every week, despite my frequent disagreement with the negative position that Mr Ryan often adopts on things religious, especially Catholicism.
Robert J. Flynn