May 03, 2018
PM hurts my head (x4)
By Hendrik van der Breggen
The Carillon, May 3, 2018
PM hurts my head (x4)
Recently Justin Trudeau defended his values test for the Canada Summer Jobs (CSJ) program with the following:
“The Liberal Party of Canada is the party of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and we will always stand up to defend Canadians' Charter rights. And organizations that cannot ensure that they will abide by the principles in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and indeed will work to take away Charter rights of Canadians, will not get funding from this government. I know that members opposite don't like that because it means standing up for women's rights and reproductive rights, but it also means we will be unequivocal in always standing up to defend the Charter rights of all Canadians.”
Head hurt #1
Though women have legal access safe abortions (when needed), it is not true that women have a carte blanche Charter right to abortion (whenever wanted).
In fact, in 1988 Canada’s then abortion law was struck down by the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) not because abortion is a woman’s right, but because there wasn’t equal access across Canada to therapeutic abortion committees. The SCC struck down the extant law and asked parliament to make a better law for women and unborn children, suggesting a gestational-age approach.
Again: The SCC did NOT say that abortion is a woman’s right. (Note: that X is legal does not mean we have a positive right to X, like legal marijuana doesn't mean we have a right to marijuana.)
Head hurt #2
The PM says CSJ program ensures “organizations that cannot ensure that they will abide by the principles in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and indeed will work to take away Charter rights of Canadians, will not get funding from this government."
Let's set aside head hurt #1 for the moment. Even if we grant that women have a Charter right to abortion (contrary to fact), and even if we grant that there are some organizations working to take away Charter rights (which is dubious), then the PM is cutting off an arm to fix a broken finger.
Think about it. The CSJ program prevents many charitable organizations that feed the hungry, help the homeless, and serve the poor from receiving funding. Why? Because they merely disagree with abortion.
Hence, these many charitable organizations are clumped among the few anti-abortion activist groups even though the charitable organizations are not anti-abortion activist groups.
Head hurt #3
This is a doozey, so, dear reader, brace yourself.
A deep philosophical problem arises from the PM's reference to the “principles in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms” to which the CSJ program asks employers to attest.
The Charter explicitly states this: “Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law.”
This means that for Canadians who believe God exists—and there are many—for them God’s revelations by Scripture or conscience trump government’s requirements for citizens to “attest” to whatever goes against these.
This also means that many Canadians believe God has given all humans—unborn children included—the right to life. In other words, these Charter-abiding Canadians cannot “attest” that they agree with “reproductive rights” when those include the right to kill a child.
One might ask, So what? It's this: at the get-go the CSJ program and its “attestation” requirement infringes on Charter section 15 rights—i.e., it infringes on the rights to equal benefit of the law—of those religious employers who take seriously Canadian law and its underlying God-related principles. Hence, blatant and unjust discrimination is built into Trudeau's CSJ program.
Significantly, it seems the only way for the PM to get around this is for him to think he is, or speaks for, God. But surely most Canadian Christians, Muslims, Jews, Baha'i's, Sikhs, and Hindus—and Atheists—would beg to differ.
Head hurt #4
Trudeau defends using the CSJ program to fund an anti-pipeline activist group: “we believe in free speech and we believe in advocacy.” Huh?
Bartender, may I have a quadruple shot of Tylenol please?
Hendrik van der Breggen, PhD, is Associate Professor Philosophy at Providence University College. The views expressed in this column do not always reflect the views of Providence.