Cuts Both Ways

Anti-abortion Conservatives have hilariously short memories

Editorial | by Stephen Whitworth

Look out: Justin Trudeau’s Liberals have attacked religious freedom! A new stipulation on a federal government summer job grant program requires employers to state they support (among other things) reproductive rights.

In other words: no student job grants for anti-abortion organizations.

Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer, who’s also Regina–Qu’appelle’s Member of Parliament, told reporters this change is an infringement on religious speech: “I believe that the federal government should respect the freedoms that Canadians enjoy to have different beliefs and that … imposing [the] personal values of Justin Trudeau on a wide variety of groups is not an appropriate way to go,” he said in a Jan. 12 CBC story.

Scheer’s concerns aside, the new rule ironically exists thanks to one of Trudeau’s own MPs. According to an April 17, 2017 iPolitics story, Liberal Member Of Parliament Iqra Khalid approved (mistakenly, her office says) a $54,000 student summer job grant for an anti-abortion group, the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform.

The CCBR is one of those deranged outfits that sends its minions out to street corners with gruesome, blown-up photos of mangled fetuses.¹ The Centre’s summer internships are for students who are “passionate for pre-born babies” and “want to spare them from being killed by abortion.”²

In other words, the CCBR wants to use government grants (or “my hard-earned tax dollars, as conservatives call them whenever they object to a government program) to pay its flying monkeys to wave gory placards at strangers.³

Gross.

To be fair, reasonable-sounding arguments can be made against the new rule. After all, we live in a country that tolerates different views, and religious Canadians have an absolute right to believe abortion is somehow morally wrong even though that’s superstitious nonsense (they also have the right to believe premarital sex is a sin, birth control is wicked, same-sex marriage is immoral, and the earth is 6,000 years old and flat).

But they don’t have a right to government funding – especially when they belong to weird fetus cults that actively fight to restrict or ban abortion, a legitimate and necessary medical procedure. Why should federal grant money be allowed to fund attacks on Canadians’ hard-won rights?⁴

It might trample the CCBR’s freedom a little bit, but I’m okay with the government blocking funding to organizations that harass Canadians with horrible propaganda posters.

It could lead to interesting court battles but I suspect Canadian law isn’t likely to protect attacks on human rights as a right in itself.

Which brings us to the hilarious hypocrisy of this situation. As usual, conservatives are quick to complain about their rights being infringed but these same snowflakes seem to have forgotten all the right-wing abuse the rest of us had to put up with under their Prime Minister. Anti-abortionists  think Trudeau is abusing his power? He’s got nothing on Stephen Harper, whose pro-fossil fuel government weaponized Revenue Canada to audit environmental charities, then muzzled scientists, destroyed their work and defunded research.

And let’s not forget the Harper government’s cuts to women’s organizations and its refusal to investigate the crisis of missing and murdered indigenous women.

If Scheer was paying attention all those years when he was Speaker of the House of Commons, he’d know all about the abuse of power for political purposes. He should be the last person surprised when the vocally pro-choice Trudeau government takes action to block federal job funding for anti-abortion radicals.

The latest twist in this drama is a chorus of outraged chirps by U.S. Republicans, Fox news hosts and Trump supporters condemning our prime minister. South of the border, the people who vote for lying, pussy-grabbing misogynists over qualified women candidates have made their feelings clear. I suspect our prime minister can live with this.

In the end, it’s just another example of how 21st century conservatives can dish it out but they can’t take it. At least the CCBR can take comfort that one political party is endlessly loyal to religious extremists, even if that makes it unelectable.


  1. According to the CCBR’S website — feel free to Google it. Maybe not while you’re eating lunch.
  2. Ibid.
  3. And yet groups like the CCBR never back policies that would reduce abortion. Universal childcare, pharmacare and massively expanded affordable housing as well as a liveable minimum wage are all things that help women facing unplanned pregnancies. Sex education and free birth control would reduce those pregnancies, too. But you’ll never hear these outfits argue for things that might mean higher taxes, let alone any policy that could be seen as pro-sex. What a pack of jerks.
  4. Canada’s anti-abortion movement concedes a full abortion ban is a political impossibility in the short term. That’s why it uses a slippery-slope strategy: give parents a legal veto over their teen’s abortions (“We Need A Law”), outlaw late-term abortions and that kind of thing. Step by step, they’ll roll back women’s rights. It’s a smart, sneaky plan.