To most of the outside world, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is the boyish heartthrob of the global, progressive left. He is the poster boy for what Angela Merkel, Emmanuel Macron and Jeremy Corybn stand for.
To a growing number of Canadians, and those in the rest of the world willing to look, Trudeau is being seen as an unenlightened despot.
At the core of the problem is that, for all his talk of diversity, Trudeau is a my way or the highway kind of fellow. Sure, he recently gave a commencement address to NYU that praised diversity of opinion, but did he mean it?
“Diversity includes political and cultural diversity. It includes a diversity of perspectives and approaches to solving problems,” Trudeau told the adoring crowd at New York’s Yankee Stadium.
It would be ideal to live in a country, in a world, where we practiced political and cultural diversity in the way he calls for. Yet he is practicing the exact opposite as he governs Canada.
I’ve been watching Trudeau crack down on those he disagrees with for so long I’m growing immune. He has done this by trying to change the rules in Parliament to stifle opposition; he has favoured media that are favourable to him like the state funded Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and more recently has stopped summer job grants to groups that don’t agree with him on abortion.
For years now the Canadian government has provided funds to organizations across the country to help give young students a summer job. Most grants didn’t pay for the job in full but it did help, especially not-for-profit groups like charities.
There was no political or religious test to get the grant, no shibboleth to determine who was worthy and who was not.
Then Trudeau took power.
After a media report of a crisis pregnancy centre getting a job grant, certain parts of Trudeau’s “feminist government” became angry. See, to Trudeau and those around him, being feminist means always supporting abortion no matter what.
Having a crisis pregnancy centre that held a different view, was simply too much.
Trudeau cut off grants to any group that would not sign an attestation that they supported “reproductive rights,” which include abortion. In Canada that actually includes abortion on demand, paid for by taxpayers, up to the time of birth.
Of course, many couldn’t sign off on such an attestation and they lost their grants.
We’ve been debating this change in the job grants for some time in Canada but I didn’t realize that it had spread much outside our borders until a friend sent me George Weigel’s piece on the matter.
Weigel used Waupoos Farm as an example of Trudeau’s style of dictatorship. Waupoos is a charity in Ottawa that gives underprivileged families a vacation on a farm complete with crafts, sports and swimming,. The only criterion, that you don’t make enough money.
It truly is God’s work. A bit of cheer and respite.
Weigel rightly points out the problems with Trudeau’s policy but also that church groups, like Waupoos, may have gotten a little too close to Caesar and Caesar’s coin than was good for them.
It’s a valid lesson for any church related group: don’t rely on Caesar. Yet I can tell you from experience that this is the smallest part of groups like Waupoos.
Yes, there are church “charities” that rely on the government for 75 percent of their funding but no one takes them seriously as charities, they are government service providers.
Waupoos is a place I know well.
Full disclosure: I’ve helped renovate some of the cottages on the farm, and my oldest daughter will work there a few days this summer on a very part-time job. We’ve even been what are called “host families.”
We have stayed at the farm to entertain, encourage and help the families getting the free vacation. In fact, I started one winter day in 2011 at the White House, covering a meeting with then President Barack Obama and Canada’s then Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and finished the day at Waupoos.
It was quite a contrast and a learning experience for me in being blessed.
That is where most of the labour for a group like Waupoos comes from, the tireless volunteers. The government help was nice; a grant is always welcome, until it is taken away.
In today’s society we will hear more and more about diversity and inclusion by the likes of Trudeau and unfortunately we will experience the opposite.
To Trudeau, and far too many people, diversity and inclusion only extend to those that agree with them.
Brian Lilley writes from Ottawa.