TORONTO—The federal government’s requirement that churches and their agencies sign an attestation endorsing abortion as a human right before receiving summer job funding violates Canadian human rights in the same way Christian human rights have been violated throughout the Middle East, Conservative leader Andrew Scheer told about 300 people gathered for the annual Christians in the Middle East Benefit Dinner Nov. 17.

The attestation is “a violation of our human rights,” Scheer said to a round of applause during his surprise appearance at the Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA) event.

“We cannot have the government force people to violate their conscience just to access government funding,” said Scheer, who was in town for the Ontario Progressive Conservative policy convention. “A Conservative government will drop the attestation.”

Scheer followed up that promise with a vow to reopen the Office of Religious Freedom within Global Affairs Canada if the Conservatives win the 2019 election.

“When we see people persecuted by things like blasphemy laws, Canada has to do more to protect those people,” Scheer said in reference to the eight-year imprisonment of Asia Bibi, a Catholic mother of five, in Pakistan.

Bibi’s death sentence for blasphemy was struck down and her conviction overturned by Pakistan’s supreme court in October, but Bibi is in hiding as threats to kill her circulate among Islamic extremists.

Catholic Register