Tolerance, rights, and getting along

January 29, 2018, 1:40 pm

John Gormley John Gormley

John Gormley is a broadcaster, lawyer, author and former Progressive Conservative MP whose radio talk show is heard weekdays from 8:30 am - 12:30 pm on 650 CKOM Saskatoon and 980 CJME Regina.


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau—who touts his diversity, tolerance and inclusion—has attracted diverse criticism over his latest stumble.

Pro-life and pro-choice organizations, businesses, charities, opposition parties, and religious groups from Christian to Protestant, Muslim to Sikh are unhappy.

The Liberal government has doubled down on its demand that Canada Summer Jobs applicants must check off an attestation box that their “core mandate” and the summer job they are providing respect a list of rights, including reproductive rights.

This is further detailed to include “the right to access safe and legal abortions.” If the box isn’t checked, no money, no summer students, regardless of the job the students are doing.

On the “reproductive rights” issue, this reasoning might hold if the government is paying an organization to provide healthcare or, specifically abortions, and the organization is trying to restrict access, which was prohibited in the 1988 Morgentaler decision of the Supreme Court of Canada.

But beyond that, any Canadian has the constitutional right to their conscience and expression to hold whatever view they want on abortion or any other issue for that matter.

It’s no one’s business—least of all government’s—to make your views a pre-condition to getting a grant to hire a summer student.

It is odd that in the name of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, designed to protect individuals from the State, that Mr. Trudeau is coercing people to agree with his government’s position on abortion rights.

This couldn’t be further from diversity, inclusion or tolerance.

And, as a trial convenes next week at the Queen’s Bench courthouse in Battleford, an important test lies ahead for Saskatchewan people.

Gerald Stanley will be tried on a charge of second degree murder in the killing of 22-year-old Colten Boushie, who was shot on Stanley’s farm 18 months ago.

Stanley is white. Boushie is indigenous. And this case has been a flashpoint for political and racial posturing, anger and vitriol, all of which gets in the way of reconciliation and a constructive conversation.

From racists making despicable comments about indigenous people to activist academics speculating on possible violence and comparing it to “a lava dome waiting to explode,” none of this moves us to progress.

The better view is that we’re all in this together—a journey best made respectfully and with maturity, tolerance and perspective.

Saskatchewan is never better than when we look to the wisdom of the past. Our province’s motto, “From Many People, Strength” is a good start.

So is a Cree proverb at the Saskatchewan Indigenous Cultural Centre: “Realize that we, as human beings, have been put on this earth for only a short time and we must use this time to gain wisdom, knowledge, respect and the understanding for all human beings since we are all relatives.”