Canadian prolife group not faulted by Elections Canada investigation

Participants in the 2019 Canadian March for Life, held May 9, 2019 in Ottawa. Credit: Christine Rousselle/CNA.

Ottawa, Canada, Aug 16, 2021 / 16:20 pm (CNA).

A pro-life organization opposed to euthanasia did not violate Canadian elections law, nor was the organization ever informed as to what they were accused of doing illegally.

The group RightNow, which describes itself as an organization that “exists to nominate and elect pro-life politicians by mobilizing Canadians on the ground level to vote at local nomination meetings, and provide training to volunteers across the country to create effective campaign teams in every riding across Canada,” was accused by Elections Canada of violating the Canada Elections Act. 

“When the Commissioner of Elections Canada advised us that RightNow was being investigated for alleged violations of the Canada Elections Act, we advised her that we would fully cooperate with her investigation and asked for details on which of our alleged activities violated the Act,” said a statement from RightNow published Aug. 12.

“Despite asking for specifics on multiple occasions, the Commissioner never provided details of the allegations against us or the nature of their investigation,” they said. “For months, our legal counsel wrote the investigator to encourage him to proceed with his investigation and to provide the requested details. Our legal counsel did so most recently on April 6, 2021.”

Elections Canada first began investigating RightNow last year. 

After RightNow’s lawyer requested that the investigation be advanced, “the Commissioner responded by advising that the investigation into RightNow was closed.”

 “The Commissioner still has not provided details or specifics as to how it was alleged that RightNow violated the Act,” said the organization. “We take that to mean that there was no basis for the investigation and that our coordination of pro-life volunteers seeking to support pro-life candidates is a permitted activity under the Act.”

The Canada Elections Act governs various aspects of Canadian elections, including the schedule of elections, eligibility for candidates, and rules regarding third party advertising and partisan activities. 

Abortion is legal throughout the entirety of a pregnancy in Canada, and there are no federal laws regarding the legality of abortion in the country. Following the 1988 Supreme Court of Canada decision in the case R v Morgentaler, Canada’s parliament was instructed to write some sort of abortion law. They did not. 

Prior to the Morgentaler decision, women in Canada who wished to have an abortion had to get approved to do so by a “Therapeutic Abortion Committee.” The Morgentaler decision eliminated this requirement and clarified that a woman has a right to an abortion under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. 

In 2018, many pro-life organizations sued after they were denied access to funding from the Canada Summer Job Grants program. 

The Canada Summer Job Grants program has funded an estimated 70,000 summer jobs for secondary school or college students, granting small businesses, non-profit organizations, and religious employers the money to fill positions such as camp counselors or landscapers.

Under the grant application’s new clause, non-profits and for-profit organizations had to check a box affirming their consistency with Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms, relevant case law, and the Canadian government’s commitments to the human rights it recognizes. 

These included “women’s rights and women’s reproductive rights, and the rights of gender-diverse and transgender Canadians.”

The rule was eventually adjusted.

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