30 April 2018

Check the box and take the cash: Trudeau and Canada's summer jobs program

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government is well over halfway through its statutory four-year mandate, and the prime minister continues to cause controversy by imposing his contestable interpretation of Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The provocations began with his parliamentary caucus before the 2015 federal election, when he proclaimed that he would no longer permit pro-life candidates to stand for a seat under the Liberal label. This action produced a dilemma for pro-life Liberals, such as the Honourable John McKay, who had previously served under the convention that controversial moral issues, if raised in the House of Commons, would be settled by a free vote so as not to coerce members into violating their consciences. Trudeau, in effect, unilaterally changed this convention, making “reproductive freedom” for the first time a nonnegotiable element of the federal Liberal program.

In January of this year, the government announced that federal funding for the Canada Summer Jobs program—which subsidizes wages for small business, government entities, and nonprofits that employ young people who are full-time students—would be available only to groups that accept its reading of the Charter. At issue was the expectation that organizations applying for funding sign the attestation at the end of the application form, including these sentences:

Both the job and my organization’s 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.

13 April 2018

Overlords and underdogs

Bishop Lesslie Newbigin
No one can read the Bible without recognizing that God is concerned for the plight of the oppressed. The first five books of the Bible tell the story of God delivering his people from oppression in Egypt. So central is this story for both Judaism and Christianity that it has been cited as prototype for God’s deliverance of his people at several stages in the biblical narrative. Nevertheless, we need to be cautious in our use of oppression and liberation as political categories, because they can lead us astray.

Reformed theologians in particular have emphasized that the Bible is not simply a collection of pious ancient writings but a unified story of God’s redemptive acts in history, culminating in our salvation in Jesus Christ.

As we read the Bible through this redemptive-historical lens, we will recognize that, yes, God hates people oppressing others but that the primary form of oppression from which he liberates us is that of our own sinful nature. Indeed, it is sin against God and neighbour that fuels every other form of oppression.

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can be contacted at: dtkoyzis@gmail.com