According to a new clause introduced by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, pro-life Christians will be barred from federal funding unless they support a woman's right to an abortion. Conservative Christian applicants for the youth summer jobs program, which provides grants to not-for-profit employers in order to encourage the hiring of students, must betray their conscience in order to qualify for federal funds.
"I have met Justin Trudeau three times," said Pastor Steve Long, a Canadian Baptist minister. "Sadly my last meeting with him in his office was very disappointing. He told [...] me that evangelical Christians were the worst part of Canadian society."
The truth is that Trudeau's enmity toward Christians is not solely against evangelicals. The abortion clause has been met with much concern by a growing number of faith-based communities in Canada. Father Niaz Toma, a Chaldean Catholic priest, said his community of Iraqi Christians won't be able to apply for the grant and has referred to the attestation as a persecution of his people.
"We will never compromise our faith for the sake of grants to be received from the Canadian government," said Father Toma.
The Trudeau government has exhibited a history of irreverence toward Christian beliefs, such as when Trudeau himself was photographed wearing a Christmas sweater depicting the Last Supper with party emojis. Trudeau also came to the defense of his newly appointed governor general accused of mocking religious people who believe that "divine intervention" played a role in the formation of life on Earth.
While these actions are certainly disrespectful, Canada under Trudeau has become a very unwelcome place for Christians who flee from persecution in the Middle East. When former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper prioritized Christian and religious minorities for refugee status because they were targeted for extermination by ISIS, Trudeau called this policy "disgusting."
"When the genocide against Yazidis and Christians by ISIS took place, the Canadian government under Harper immediately sent Canadian forces to their rescue," said Steve Maman, affectionately known by many as "the Jewish Schindler" for rescuing over 140 Yazidi and Christian women forced into sex slavery by ISIS. "Prime Minister Harper and his Defense Minister Jason Kenney had traveled together to the Kurdish territories and pledged $140 million in assistance."
Harper also coordinated with CYCI: The Liberation of Christian and Yazidi Children of Iraq, Maman's foundation to assist Yazidis in Greece and the Kurdish territories. It was Harper who also launched Canada's Office of Religious Freedom, in order to monitor religious persecution and protect freedom of religion internationally. Shortly after taking office, Trudeau closed the agency. Trudeau also withdrew Canada's fighter jets from bombing operations against ISIS.
"Over 30,000 Syrian refugees were brought to Canada in an expedited manner and found themselves immediately taken care of by the Trudeau government," said Maman. "Despite Canada recognizing the genocide of Yazidis, the fact that the Trudeau government offered to help only 1,200 Yazidis speaks for itself. And absolutely no help was offered to the Christian victims."
It is clear that Trudeau does not hold the highest regard for Christians, whether inside or outside of Canada. But what is deeply concerning is the praise he offers to ISIS jihadists who return to Canada. In a year-end interview, Trudeau expressed his belief that Canadian nationals who join ISIS can be rehabilitated into "powerful" voices against radicalism in Canada.
Unlike the United States, Trudeau plans on welcoming back ISIS fighters with open arms. One rehabilitation project that was allocated $367,000 CAD uses "art-based pedagogy and poetry to empower the broader population in understanding how [ISIS] is using and abusing religious interpretations." Canadian Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale confirmed that there are at least 60 ISIS terrorists currently in Canada.
Rather than seeking to "rehabilitate" ISIS fighters, Trudeau should instead show a little more compassion to their victims. By being exclusionary toward Christians, Trudeau has made Canada less tolerant and less safe for all of its people.
Bradley Martin is a Senior Fellow with the news and public policy group Haym Salomon Center and Deputy Editor for the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research.