In 2015, Justin Trudeau made headlines and history when he became the first Canadian prime minister to make public his mandate letters to the newly appointed cabinet ministers. Each letter contains some standard text about the expectations for all cabinet ministers as representatives of the Trudeau government before outlining some priority areas of responsibility unique to each department, and in some cases other ministers to work with on particular projects. For example, in 2015, then justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould and health minister Jane Philpott were mandated to work together to legalize both euthanasia and marijuana.
On Dec. 13, Trudeau publicly released a new set of mandate letters to all members of the cabinet he announced in November. Letters to several ministers caught the attention of pro-life leaders.
Campaign Life Coalition national president Jeff Gunnarson told The Interimthat the mandate letters demonstrate Trudeau’s “extreme commitment to his abortion agenda, radical feminism, and promotion of homosexualism.” He noted that at least six ministers were given mandates to expand abortion or promote the LGBQT agenda, including some of the most important portfolios.
In the mandate letter to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Trudeau instructed David Lametti, who replaced Wilson-Raybould last January, to amend the Criminal Code to ban the practice of conversion therapy “and take other steps required with the provinces and territories to end conversion therapy in Canada.” Conversion therapy seeks to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity through psychiatric or religious counseling.
In June, Lametti, along with Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor, and special advisor to the prime minister on LGBTQ issues, Randy Boissonnault, sent a letter to provincial and territorial ministers of health and justice to ban conversion therapy, which they labelled “shameful” and “cruel.” They wrote, “We are concerned about the harmful effect of the message that someone’s sexual orientation is abnormal, and that it can and should be changed.” With the summer recess and fall election campaign, the government took no further action. The mandate letter suggests the government may act soon on this file.
British Columbia NDP MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert, who is openly gay, tweeted his support of the direction given to Lametti: “Great to see the federal government has heard the loud request from LGBT+ Canadians, and many allies to ban conversion therapy in all provinces and territories across Canada.”
Kristopher Wells, a professor in the department of child and youth care at MacEwan University in Edmonton, an advocate of anti-conversion therapy, said he was “very pleased” to see Trudeau making such a ban a priority. “This is a real opportunity for Canada to show leadership on the world stage when it comes to passing the strongest legislation in the world,” Wells said, “to clearly demonstrate that conversion therapy has no place in our society or civilization.”
Campaign Life Coalition’s Jack Fonseca told The Interim banning conversion therapy would “take away a patient’s right to get help for unwanted same-sex attraction.” He said that opposition to getting the help of a psychotherapist to resolve unwanted same-sex attraction is rooted in the progressive ideology that there is a gay gene or homosexual are “born that way.”
Fonseca also said the law could interfere with spiritual counselling for same-sex attraction, infringing on the religious rights of both religious leaders such as priests, pastors and imams, and adherents who are struggling with same-sex attractions.
Trudeau also directed Lametti to “lead an immediate and inclusive process, supported by the Minister of Health, to work with provinces and territories to respond to the recent court ruling regarding the medical assistance in dying framework.” Last September, a Quebec court struck down the provision of the law that restricted euthanasia to those whose death is “reasonably foreseeable” and the Trudeau government did not appeal the decision. Lametti opposed the government’s euthanasia bill when he was a backbench MP because he thought it was too restrictive. Dr. Heidi Janz, chair of the Council of Canadians With Disabilities’ end-of-life committee, said “The disability community is very concerned about the decision by government not to appeal.” The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition wrote to Lametti in October to encourage him to appeal the decision within the 30-day deadline, but it was ignored.
The Quebec Superior Court gave the federal government until March 2020 to amend the law. The government could seek an extension. Lametti told the Canadian Press he expects the government to meet the deadline.
While not in the mandate letter, the 2016 euthanasia law requires a review of the law by June 2020. Pro-euthanasia activists, as well as Lametti, hope to broaden the law to include permitting advanced directives so patients can dictate the terms of their demise after they have lost competence, allowing so-called mature minors to be euthanized, and opening the assisted-suicide regime to individuals with mental illness.
In his mandate to the Health Minister, Trudeau told Patty Hajdu, “In order to realize and protect women’s sexual and reproductive health rights, ensure that Canadians have access to the full suite of reproductive services and medications across the country.”
CLC’s Gunnarson said he is concerned with the “opened-ended and absolute” wording to Hajdu, noting that the “full suite of reproductive services and medications across the country” sounds like Ottawa will be pressuring provinces to increase access and fully fund both surgical and chemical abortions, “a clear infringement on provincial jurisdiction.”
The Health Minister was also instructed to work with the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Bill Blair to “implement strict regulation of cannabis” while also promoting “responsible usage.” Hadju should also work with the Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth, and in partnership with Canadian Blood Services and Héma-Québec, to build on existing progress to implement a behaviour-based model of donation to eliminate the blood donation ban for homosexuals men.
Other directions given in the mandate letters touch upon life and family issues. Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, was told to “introduce a 15 week leave for adoptive parents, including LGBTQ2 families.” Bardish Chagger, Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth, was told to “continue the work of the LGBTQ2 Secretariat in promoting LGBTQ2 equality, protecting LGBTQ2 rights and addressing discrimination against LGBTQ2 communities” and fund “LGBTQ2 organizations to hire staff, expand services and reach more people.”
On the foreign policy files, Karina Gould, Minister of International Development, was told to, “increase Canada’s collaboration on innovative financing with new and existing partners in civil society and the private sector, including through the continued implementation of initiatives that the Government has introduced … and ensure they are fully aligned with Canada’s feminist approach to development.”
Maryam Monsef, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development, was told to “support the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of International Development in continuing work on gender equality abroad, including working with the G7 Gender Equality Advisory Council and on global feminist initiatives.”
Gunnarson said these directives presumably include the ten-year, $7 billion commitment to fund and promote abortion globally. “Despite all his talk about the middle class, Trudeau’s mandate letters demonstrate that among the most important priorities of the Prime Minister and his government is the promotion of an extreme, left-wing social agenda.”
In the boilerplate section of the mandate letters to all ministers, Trudeau wrote: “We are committed to evidence-based decision-making that takes into consideration the impacts of policies on all Canadians and fully defends the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. You will apply Gender-based Analysis Plus (GBA+) in the decisions that you make.” Gunnarson said that abortion is not a Charter Right and that if the Liberal government were truly committed to evidence-based decision-making, as it claims, it would acknowledge the harm that abortion causes both women and preborn babies.