A step in the right di­rec­tion

The Glengarry News - - The Opinion Page - STEVEN WAR­BUR­TON B.C. Catholic Mea culpa. The Glen­garry News

About a year ago, I used this space to crit­i­cize the Lib­eral gov­ern­ment for dis­crim­i­nat­ing against re­li­gious groups want­ing to take ad­van­tage of the Sum­mer Jobs Grant. At the time, the Lib­er­als said they would only pro­vide fund­ing to or­ga­ni­za­tion whose “core man­date re­spect in­di­vid­ual hu­man rights in Canada, in­clud­ing the val­ues un­der­ly­ing the Cana­dian Char­ter of Rights and Free­doms as well as other rights. These in­clude re­pro­duc­tive rights and the right to be free from dis­crim­i­na­tion on the ba­sis of sex, re­li­gion, race, na­tional or eth­nic ori­gin, colour, men­tal or phys­i­cal dis­abil­ity or sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion, or gen­der iden­tity or ex­pres­sion.”

That an­nounce­ment up­set a lot of re­li­gious groups who be­lieve that abor­tion is tan­ta­mount to mur­der. They didn’t want to bow down to Ne­buchad­nez­zar – so to speak – by check­ing the “we agree” box on the fund­ing ap­pli­ca­tion. They weren’t silent about it ei­ther. They rose up and told the gov­ern­ment that they are do­ing valu­able work in their com­mu­ni­ties and that they shouldn’t be pun­ished be­cause of their pro-life stances. And the gov­ern­ment lis­tened. They changed the at­tes­ta­tion. Now, ap­pli­cants just have to check a box say- ing they won’t deny any­one their rights. There’s a clar­i­fi­ca­tion that says you can’t get fund­ing if you’re just go­ing to use the money to hand out anti-abor­tion lit­er­a­ture, but that’s an ac­cept­able com­pro­mise. It’s not against the law to dis­trib­ute such lit­er­a­ture – nor should it be – and I don’t think I’d be all that thrilled know­ing that a pro-choice gov­ern­ment is sub­si­diz­ing that any­way.

Not ev­ery­one in my camp feels this way. Alissa Golob, co-founder of a pro-life group called RightNow, says the gov­ern­ment has made the prob­lem worse. quoted her as say­ing: “Now the gov­ern­ment is go­ing one step fur­ther by say­ing that if you’re per­son­ally pro-life as an or­ga­ni­za­tion or in­sti­tu­tion, that’s fine, as long as you shut up about it. But if you act on those be­liefs, you’re not even el­i­gi­ble to ap­ply. They’re pur­chas­ing si­lence from those they don’t agree with.”

Well, ac­tu­ally, you don’t have to shut up about it. You may have to zip your lip when you’re do­ing your job, as most of us must do, but if a con­tro­ver­sial topic should arise in the break room or around the camp­fire, you are free to speak your mind. The gov­ern­ment has not crim­i­nal­ized free speech.

So I take a mo­ment to thank the Lib­er­als for chang­ing the at­tes­ta­tion. It’s a step in the right di­rec­tion.

My bad

I took some rib­bing from North Glen­garry’s newly sworn-in coun­cil over my fail­ure to at­tend their in­au­gu­ra­tion last Mon­day. I wound up go­ing to North Stor­mont in­stead. Last month, I promised that coun­cil I would at­tend, think­ing I could find some­one to at­tend the North Glen­garry in­au­gu­ra­tion that night. I was un­able to. I was left with a ter­ri­ble dilemma: Break a prom­ise or aban­don my beat.

Ob­vi­ously, I chose the lat­ter. My bad. There were jokes about how I owed them noth­ing but good cov­er­age for an ex­tended amount of time. Yep. may start re­port­ing on some North Stor­mont sto­ries, but I as­sure our read­ers that the bulk of our ma­te­rial will be Glen­garry-cen­tric. I can do that by re­mem­ber­ing where my pri­or­i­ties ought to be.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

STORE DIV­I­DENDS: Rev. John No­ord­hof of St. An­drew’sKnox United Church and Op­por­tu­nity Knox Store, presents a $800 cheque to Cadet War­rant Of­fi­cer Sec­ond Class Gian­lucca Mac­chi­ago­dena of the 253 Claude Nun­ney VC Royal Cana­dian Air Cadet Squadron in South Glen­garry.

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