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Rex Murphy : Trans Mountain protesters are receiving government funding while religious charities have effectively been barred from such subsidies

April 27th, 2018 | by Richard Paul
Rex Murphy : Trans Mountain protesters are receiving government funding while religious charities have effectively been barred from such subsidies
Business and Finance
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Dr. David Suzuki speaks at a Special Chiefs Assembly / Conference on Climate Change and the Environment in Winnipeg, Tuesday, November 29, 2016. Some Manitoba chiefs took part in a ceremonial signing of The Treaty Alliance Against Tar Sands Expansion. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods ORG XMIT: JGW102

Dr. David Suzuki speaks at a Special Chiefs Assembly / Conference on Climate Change and the Environment in Winnipeg, Tuesday, November 29, 2016. Some Manitoba chiefs took part in a ceremonial signing of The Treaty Alliance Against Tar Sands Expansion. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods ORG XMIT: JGW102




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Rex Murphy: Grants to anti-pipeline activists a hammer blow to the heads of the unemployed

Trans Mountain protesters are receiving government funding while religious charities have effectively been barred from such subsidies

A woman demonstrates in support of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion outside the Alberta Legislature in Edmonton on April 12, 2018.David Bloom/Edmonton Sun

If you are an Albertan, or a Newfoundlander, or for that matter a person from any Canadian province or territory, who has been laid off and out of work for the past couple of years because of the downturn in the oil industry, and the fierce opposition to all efforts — pipeline construction — to revive it, the news that your federal government is funding summer jobs for professional groups whose only goal is to kill the oilsands forever, must be a hammer blow to the head.

I know lots of such people, who worked for a decade and more in Alberta, and find themselves these days filling out online resumes, traipsing to job sites, trying to work off debts, all the time shadowed by the sense of displacement and anxiety that goes with any period of long unemployment. In a brief phrase, which doesn’t carry the full misery of the situation, being out of work is a continuous anxiety and a despairing condition.

For these people, hearing that the Trudeau government is funding summer jobs for an organization called the Dogwood Initiative, whose only purpose is to kill the Alberta oil industry, through implacable campaigns against any and all pipelines from Alberta, can hardly have amounted to morning under the Christmas tree.

People rally in favour of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion outside the Alberta Legislature in Edmonton on April 12, 2018. David Bloom/Edmonton Sun

“Why is Mr. Trudeau funding groups whose goal is to make sure I don’t get a job in the industry I know?” was probably the first question that puzzled them. The second was probably: “Why is Mr. Trudeau, who promises that the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion will be built, giving money to a political organization to campaign and sabotage any and all efforts to get it built?” An equally perplexed thought might be: “My church can’t get a summer grant to hire a few students to clean up the parish graveyard, or to do some meals-on-wheels for a few old people, and a rich anti-oil activist group gets a handout to stage protests against oil. Does this make sense?”

These lads and lasses haven’t had much of a hopeful time of it. Over on the East Coast, which is almost perpetually plagued by endemic unemployment, there glowed for a while the promise of the Energy East pipeline.

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Energy East was whacked off the drawing board by ever-changing protocols on assessment and regulation, everything from “downstream” emissions and feminist “gender analytics” to the mystic carbon tax, while the product from the Middle East and elsewhere, the non-Canadian product, flowed via tanker to the port of Montreal unmolested by any of the regulatory burrs or global-warming-scare-inspired taxes. How come Nigeria gets a better deal than Alberta, some of them have asked. As they have also asked why Quebec got such a large say in the NO to Energy East, and found such jubilation — “a great victory” — in its killing. It must have given great satisfaction to the Dogwood Initiative, too.

Pasteboard figures would have put up a better fight

The unemployed engineers, carpenters, heavy equipment operators, scientists and safety officers, office staff, drillers and maintenance people, hardly shared that jubilation — actually they were dumfounded that whole governments thought so little about leaving them on the unemployment rolls. All without a groan of protest from the 32-member Atlantic Liberal caucus — pasteboard figures would have put up a better fight.

And that returns us to the summer job grant to Dogwood — whose existence has one explicit rationale — to stop the development of Alberta’s oilsands. Why is it getting a federal subsidy to fulfill that grim, ugly, anti-jobs ambition? Especially when so many real charities — charities that practice, you know, charity, not protest — chiefly religious organizations, have been barred from those grants.

The jobs these charities offer are mostly aimed at the truly poor, homeless and displaced — real charity work — but because they wouldn’t sign on to Justin Trudeau’s one-man edict that they have to forswear “anti-abortion” beliefs, they were culled from the list.

Churches and other religious organizations that oppose abortion have been refused government grants for summer jobs projects. Peter J. Thompson/National Post

No summer jobs for Catholics, Evangelists, any religion of any origin that holds the sanctity of life as high doctrine, if they do not abjure a cardinal element of their faiths. In other words, consent to lie, or give in to forced speech — a blatant and explicit violation of the guarantees of the Charter of Rights on free speech and freedom of religion. That same Charter that Mr. Trudeau regards as the second set of tablets brought down from on high — this time from Mount Royal as opposed to Mount Sinai — and evidently more binding than the first. Abortion is his shibboleth … you may not sit in caucus, run as a candidate, or apply even for summer jobs, if your views on abortion are not in full feminist 2015 concordance with his.

Then in an exquisitely deft turn, as supple as any acrobat in Cirque du Soleil, he proclaimed his fierce “dedication to free speech” to explain the funding of a political environmentalist activist group to work against his own government’s policy. (I’m bypassing entirely the interesting questions of whether protesting should even qualify as a “job” and why an organization that has $1.6 million in funds should siphon off money from taxpayers to fight against job creation.)

Forget the B.C. government, and the court references, and the high summits in Ottawa and Calgary. How do out-of-work Canadians, how do Albertans caught in a recession, their main industry under siege from the hyper-environmentalism of Ottawa and the mob of NGOs and self-declared climate saviours … how do these people feel when they see their own government underwrite and subsidize professional campaigns to keep them unemployed?

How do these people feel when they see their own government underwrite professional campaigns to keep them unemployed?

How’s this for a thought: In a different time, in different circumstances, many eminences in the Trudeau government would more likely be members or staff of Dogwood, or Sierra, or Greenpeace, than working in any way to oppose them. Ideologically and temperamentally, today, that’s the Liberal’s real home team. So, if it’s Dogwood or the local parish church looking for a grant, there’s really no contest.

So please, find something less saccharine and vapid than “free speech” to explain the obvious favouritism.

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