A step in the right direction
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.
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.
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.