Scott Hayward and Alissa Golob are the co-founders of It Starts Right Now, a pro-life political action committee.Canadian Catholic News

Attestation controversy a boon to pro-life activists organizing for next election

The controversy over the pro-abortion Canada Summer Jobs attestation has become a boon to pro-life groups already organizing for the 2019 federal election says a political organizer.

The battle is also moving into the courts, with the lawsuit on constitutional grounds filed against the government by Toronto and Area Right to Life scheduled to be heard in June. The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms will also be filing a lawsuit on behalf of a small business owner said the Centre’s president John Carpay.

It remains alive in the news media, as well, with National Post columnist Andrew Coyne writing March 27, “the primary effect of the government’s ham-handed attempt to banish abortion opponents to the margin of Canadian society has been to give them the most sympathetic hearing they have have had in years, even from a media that leans overwhelmingly in favour of abortion rights.”

Employment Minister Patty Hajdu

A report in HuffPost Canada March 26 said Employment Minister Patty Hajdu was willing to reconsider the language of the pro-abortion attestation for next year’s program, but a spokesman from Hajdu’s office told CCN in an e-mail March 27: “The attestation is not changing.”

Whether the attestation changes or not, “The damage is done,” said Scott Hayward, president and co-founder of It Starts Right Now, a pro-life political action committee.

“The trust has been broken between the Liberals and not just faith groups but those who don’t have the same extremist views they do on abortion,” Hayward said, noting the attestation also affected small businesses, municipalities and First Nations groups where owners, councillors and band leaders did not feel they could sign onto the Liberal’s “extremist views.”

While It Starts Right Now is a non-partisan organization, Hayward described the Conservatives’ targeted ads against Liberals who voted against Conservative motion March 19 to remove the attestation requirement for those groups engaging in non-activist charitable work as a smart move that parallels what his organization is doing. The attestation issue has opened doors for them

“This attestation issue has been one of the greatest gifts the prime minister has given us,” said Hayward. “It’s galvanized pro-lifers, particularly in ridings where MPs have voted against the Conservative motion.”

The attestation has given the political organizers access to faith and community groups that a year or six months ago would not have been interested in working with them, he said. “This has allowed us access to a number of people in key ridings. The federal Conservative Party is going the exact same thing from the looks of it.”

Campaign Life Coalition, (CLC) also a political pro-life group, however, is dismayed by the Conservative government’s strategy on the attestation, and had urged its supporters to contact their MPs and ask them not to vote for the March 19 motion.

“We felt the Conservative motion was a betrayal to the profile movement,” said Jack Fonseca, project manager and political strategist for CLC. “If you read the wording of the motion itself, it totally threw prolifers under the bus.”

“It gave tacit approval for Justin Trudeau to continue discriminating against pro-life organizations whether they are political organizations like Campaign Life or educational prolife organizations, like Toronto Right to Life and the many other educational prolife groups that do tremendous work to change hearts and minds on the rights of the unborn,” Fonseca said.

“This was a cowardly motion. It really represented a knife in the back for pro-lifers. We have nominated and helped to elect hundreds and hundreds of prolife MPs. It was not a good way to be treated.”

“It was a total wasted opportunity,” Fonseca said, noting that even liberal journalists made no exceptions when they attacked the pro-abortion values test. “They said it was wrong, full stop.”

“It was a really sad motion,” said Fonseca. “It shows that Andrew Scheer did not pick up an opportunity to advance the yardstick on prolife.”

“The motion could have been a little bit stronger,” said Hayward. “But overall the motion was a very good step in the right direction.”

“To say activist groups should not get funding applies to both prolife and pro-abortion activist groups,” he said.

Hayward urged prolife groups to “put your self-interest aside,” and recognize the other issues at play, such as the assault on freedom of speech, so that other prolife groups that are feeling the hungry, giving shelter to the poor and so on can receive government funding.

“The bigger issue is the government is trying to impose their extremist abortion views on everyday Canadians,” Hayward said, noting most do not share the extremist positions of the Liberals on abortion.

It’s not only the governing Liberals who are imposing extremist abortion views. The New Democratic Party disciplined the one MP who broke party lines and voted for the March 19 motion.

NDP MP David Christopherson

MP David Christopherson, who has served the Hamilton Centre riding for three decades, was stripped of his position as vice chair of the procedure and House affairs committee for voting with the Conservatives.|

“Canadians have a right to disagree with the law, recognizing they will respect it and will honour the law,” the pro-choice MP told Post Media. “You have the right to say anything you want about a law, and that attestation took that right away. I cannot condone

“I wrestled with it, of course. You don’t vote against your own caucus lightly,” Christopherson said. “To me, at the end of the day, that box took away Canadians’ right to disagree with the laws that they have to obey. I had a very strong, fundamental problem with that. And just abstaining wasn’t good enough.”

MP Scott Simms, the lone Liberal who defied the government whip to support the motion, said as yet he has not been punished for breaking ranks.

“There have been discussions with the whip but that’s about it right now,” Simms said. Asked if he risked not having his nomination papers signed to run as a Liberal in the next election, he said. “I don’t know. That’s up to the Prime Minister. It’s not my call. My call is to do my job.”

Simms, who is pro-choice, said he agreed with a change in policy that would deny funding to activist groups working to “deny the rights” of others.

“I don’t think this attestation is the way to get rid of that problem,” he said, reiterating that it was “insensitive” to non-activist groups doing charitable work.

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