In 2018, the Ministry of Employment imposed an attestation requirement in its application for Canada Summer jobs funding for students. Unless those who applied said that they agreed with abortion, their application would fail on the face of it.
Toronto Right to Life ("TRTL") is a charity dedicated to the sanctity of life. Its President, Blaise Alleyne, a dedicated Catholic, refused to say that he supports abortion when he filled out TRTL’s application for summer student job funding. TRTL supports the sanctity of life and further, supports the Charter rights to freedom of expression and religion. It believes that all Canadians have the right to share their beliefs and opinions, and that no one should be punished, in opposition to their conscience, because they don’t believe the “right” things in the government’s opinion.
As a consequence, the application was denied and TRTL commenced a lawsuit against the Ministry. During the course of the litigation, the Ministry disclosed that the attestation requirement was added to the application process because pro-choice lobbyists contacted the government to urge it to punish anyone who holds a belief in support of life.
Up until now, compelled speech has been foreign to Canada because it accepted that it is detestable in a functioning democracy. Yet, without blinking, the Liberal government boldly imposed the attestation. While the government revised the attestation in the following year, it has not backed down in the litigation against Toronto Right to Life. This case came before the Court June 22, 2021, we now await a decision.
It has been crucial that Toronto Right to Life fight this battle on behalf
of other groups and individuals like it, so that every individual in Canada is protected from the state dictating what it must say in order to be treated equally.
The knife slices both ways. In future, should another government take power, will members of the Liberal government be content if that future government chooses to punish individuals because they support abortion? Charter protection is not just for some Canadians, it is for all Canadians, whatever their opinions on abortion.