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Public transit is now part of the culture war
Public transit is now part of the culture war
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Public transit is now part of the culture war 

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Mussolini notoriously made the trains run on time, but if you’re pro-life, don’t bother trying to make the buses do the same.

I must admit that I’m still not clear where exactly abortion and municipal transit policy intersect, but for a group of activist city councillors in Ottawa, they apparently do.

Seven such councillors tried to block the appointment of Michael Olsen to the city’s transit commission. The disqualifying factor was that he believes what millions of Canadians do—that abortion is wrong.

He revealed as much in a questionnaire he filled out for a pro-life group while running as a Catholic school board trustee last year.

It shouldn’t come as a shock that a Catholic believes in a core Catholic belief. But that just shows how ingrained in the left the expectation of ideological unanimity is.

The narrow vote confirming Olsen’s appointment came only after he received more scrutiny and debate than I suspect any transit commission appointee has had in the history of such boards.

The same fervor wasn’t even applied to the three people appointed alongside Olsen, who were unanimously approved without any similar inquisitions.

The charge was led by Coun. Shawn Menard, who said he wanted Olsen’s nomination reviewed because of his “past expression of interest and advocacy” with pro-life groups.

The ideological discrimination was so overt that the city’s clerk and solicitor warned it was likely a violation of Olsen’s Charter-affirmed right to freedom of expression.

Unless Menard was prepared to deny bus rides to women on their way to abortion clinics, I’m hard-pressed to come up with an example of how he even could impose a pro-life agenda on Ottawa’s transit system, which he’s expressed no desire to do.

His years of working as a public servant in various federal government departments suggest his views on abortion haven’t impeded his ability to do his job. And no one questioned his qualifications to serve as a transit commissioner.

Under today’s left, even privately held beliefs are fair game. We see this in the social media mob’s response to anything deemed wrongspeak. It’s also seeping into politics and government.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau barred pro-life candidates from running under the Liberal party banner in the 2015 election. As party leader, he certainly had the prerogative to make such a call, though I believe it was the wrong one because it was clear he wanted to eradicate pro-life thought from far beyond his own party’s caucus.

He proved this when he made community groups and religious institutions opposing abortion ineligible for Canada Summer Jobs program funding.

My own church had to decide between lying about its beliefs on the government attestation or shutting down its longstanding day camp program. It chooses the latter.

What happened to Olsen is the logical extension of what Trudeau did with Canadian not-for-profits. If organizations are not suited to receive government money because of their beliefs, why should any individual?

The left would love nothing more than for people with Olsen’s beliefs, despite how common they are, to have no place in the public service, or even the public discussion.

By trying to make an example out of people like him, the left hopes anyone who believes what he does will keep their mouth shut about it. In time this creates the illusion that far fewer people hold these views than actually do.

Before long, opposition to abortion—or any issue that goes through the same treatment—sits in a box in the corner with a scary biohazard label on it, as do the people holding those beliefs.

It widens the chasm between average Canadians and the oft-cited elites in public service, politics and media, from whom we’re supposed to take the lead on what to think.

Though the Ottawa inquisition was unsuccessful, it will not be an isolated example.

Unless we want ideological homogeneity from everyone in leadership positions, we need to stop each of these attempts dead in its tracks.

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