Playing the morals card

There are ongoing arguments about which political party has a lock on ‘Canadian’ and ‘family’ values. I would argue none of them – values are personal, not corporate.
The latest example was Prime Minister Trudeau and his government’s requirement that all organizations applying for subsidized summer students must check a box that says they concur with reproductive rights, e.g. abortion.
His reasoning was reproductive rights is a ‘Canadian value’.
But it’s not a Canadian value, it’s a Canadian’s right under the Constitution.
It is just wrong when a Prime Minister or a government attach their personal values to public money.
There are untold thousands of religious organizations in this country that provide a great swatch of social services abdicated by governments.
In particular, senior’s housing at all levels of care, supports for the homeless, new immigrants and refugees, food banks, youth-at-risk programs, homes for battered women, summer camps, international agencies in third world countries, to name just a few.
Religious organizations run primarily with volunteer Boards of Directors and in many cases a core of volunteer workers.
Subsidized student summer jobs are critical for the financial sustainability of many of their important social programs. For Mr. Trudeau to withhold summer student funding to organizations that assist the most vulnerable because of his personal values is incomprehensible.
If, on the other hand, a religious organization said they would not accept any client that had had an abortion or were transgender that becomes a Human Rights issue.
It’s not just the Liberals who have trouble separating personal values from human rights.
Former Prime Minister Harper tied his ‘family’ values to funding health initiatives in third world countries. In 1994 he cut funding to those organizations helping the world’s most vulnerable if they also provided abortions.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon opined at the time, “The UN doesn’t support abortion as a form of family planning, but in places where it is legal, it should also be safe”. In fact, a United Nations Strategic Development goal is to “deliver a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every child birth is safe and every young person’s potential is fulfilled”.
Ironically, Harper with a majority government could have withheld funding for abortions in Canada, but wouldn’t even entertain the idea because it would personally hurt his re-election!
Therein lays the problem of subscribing ‘Canadian’ or ‘family’ values in politics—they too often become situational morals to achieve desired political outcomes.
It is often argued politicians should leave their morals at the door. I would argue it’s not about bringing your morals into politics; but it’s the motivation behind playing the morals or ‘values’ card that make people cynical and distrustful of politicians.
The best attribute a politician can bring to their job is compassion. Empathy doesn’t even cut it. The words of Shane Sinclair, a nursing professor at the University of Calgary, got my attention. “Empathy biases us towards those we think deserve it, whereas compassion is unconditionally non-judgmental.”

B.P. Schimke
ECA Review

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