The Bangor Sawmill in Meteghan River, Nova Scotia is one of Canada’s only remaining active water-powered sawmills. In the midst of their day-to-day operations, the sawmill has opened it’s doors as a museum open to the public over the last 20 years.
During that time, the sawmill has received funding from the Canadian government to hire high school students to lead tours during summer operating hours. However, a new requirement announced by Prime Minister Trudeau last year has led to the decision by Bangor Sawmill officials to close the museum.
The “abortion clause” dictates that any Canadian entity receiving government funds must sign an “attestation” of support for abortion as well as issues related to gender and sexuality. Trudeau tried to assure skeptics of the law that it would only apply to organizations that directly worked with those specific issues. However, the Bangor Sawmill representatives say that in order to get the money they needed to open for the summer they had to sign the clause.
They refused. From CBC News:
Gerald Comeau, a former Progressive Conservative MP and a retired senator, is a member of the board that runs the Bangor Sawmill Museum. He has been volunteering with the museum before it even opened its doors.
In order to get the grant money required to keep the museum open this year, the museum board needed to agree to the clause.
Comeau says that “the museum takes absolutely no position whatsoever on abortion.”
Colin Fraser, the region’s parliamentary representative claimed that the attestation was simply a harmless way of confirming none of the jobs asking for government funds would violate the government mandates. However, Comeau and other staff members were having none of it.
As the change was made under the Liberal Government, CBC’s Maritime Noon asked Comeau about the politics of the decision not to sign. He said there are no politics involved in it because, to him, abortion is an individual decision.
“If you support abortion, or don’t support abortion, that’s your opinion. It should not have anything to do with politics.”
Comeau said that if the government wishes to target anti-abortion groups, it should do it by targeting those groups specifically.
He worries it will send a message to volunteers that they have to “sacrifice their principles in order to get funding from the government.”
In an email, he called the museum a historical treasure that deserves to be saved.
The museum will not be opening this summer at a minimum.