Parliament to Vote on March 19 on the Canada Summer Jobs Program

This entry is part 15 of 22 in the series Canada Summer Jobs.

The Opposition Conservatives surprised many today by using their Opposition Motion in the House of Commons to address the Canada Summer Jobs issue. The federal government has struggled to keep this controversy under wraps. But the story will not die. There is too much at stake, as I explained in several pieces over the last few months in the Canadian Lawyer Magazine, the Winnipeg Free Press, and the ipolitics.ca website.

You will remember that just before Christmas the federal government announced that it will no longer grant Canada Summer Jobs (CSJ) funding to employers unless they attest that they are in favour of government ideology on social policy. The attestation says:

both the job and my organization’s core mandate respect individual human rights in Canada, including the values underlying the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms as well as other rights. These include reproductive rights and the right to be free from discrimination on the basis of sex, religion, race, national or ethnic origin, colour, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.

Many Christian charities have decided that they cannot attest to this statement as it is worded for a number of reasons. First, it is vaguely written, being open to a number of interpretations; second, it appears to suggest that charities are responsible for applying the Charter in their workplace as if they were government actors, which they are not; third, it introduces a new values test for government support. No one should ever have to agree with government opinions in order to access government programming.

Not only religious groups have voiced their opposition; many across the political and social spectrum also recognize the problem. As Paula Simons, of the Edmonton Journal noted on January 17, 2018:

“I’m a pro-choice feminist. But I find myself deeply disturbed by a new federal rule that says any small business or not-for-profit group applying for a Canada Summer Jobs grant must first “attest” to their support for legal access to abortion. Where does that leave groups like Catholic Social Services or the Mennonite Centre for Newcomers or other faith-based social service agencies that do vital work in our communities? And where does that leave respect for the Charter itself? I support a woman’s right to control her body. But I also support freedom of conscience, of religion, of thought.”

The government sought to alleviate opposition by issuing “Supplementary Information”. However, this did not satisfy the criticism because their definitions only created further confusion while keeping the attestation in place.

The motion before the House of Commons today, which will be voted on March 19, states as follows:

That, in the opinion of the House, organizations that engage in non-political non-activist work, such as feeding the homeless, helping refugees, and giving kids an opportunity to go to camp, should be able to access Canada Summer Jobs funding regardless of their private convictions and regardless of whether or not they choose to sign the application attestation.

During today’s debate the government continued to insist that they are not seeking compliance with beliefs, but rather activities. They argue they are concerned with the actions of those organizations such as the Canadian Centre for Bio-ethical Reform that display pictures of aborted fetuses and distribute anti-abortion literature door-to-door.

The government fails to recognize that regardless of how the government has reinterpreted the attestation, religious communities still maintain that they cannot and will not “check the box.” They cannot separate their beliefs from their activities. In essence, the government is saying, “Trust us and tick the box. We will not discriminate against you if you are not doing what the CCBR are doing.” That is precisely the problem. The failure to remove the attestation has meant a loss of trust for many who oppose.

Michael Cooper pointed out that while the Prime Minister talks “diversity, inclusivity, tolerance — actions speak louder than words. Actions are different than their words. They have no regard for fundamental freedoms.” He called on the government to “Do the right thing and withdraw this bigoted test.”

Ted Falk pointed out that “Political leaders need to make peace with diversity.” That includes the religious community which may not have the same view as the government.

Mona Fortier countered that, from the government’s perspective, “Taxpayer’s money should not be used by organizations that would undermine rights of women to make their own choices.” She noted “We extended the deadline by one week. Under represented young people — indigenous, immigrants, minority languages, LGBTQ2 — all have the right to be included.”

Similarly, Brian May claimed “There is a lot of misinformation on the CSJ, but there are strong supporters of the attestation.” He explained, “CSJ requires the job and organization respect the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Our duty is to preserve our values and values underlying the Charter.”

Identifying the central issue at stake, Harold Albrecht argued, “No one has the right to prevent others to practice their beliefs, especially the government. Think about the loss to our community because groups could not sign the attestation.”

Kevin Sorenson asked, “With all due respect, what’s next? Now it is about . If we do not line up with the government, what’s next?”

That line of questioning was taken up by Lisa Raitt who suggested what could be next. She noted that the CRA’s application for registered charitable status is quite extensive. A charity’s application to be registered already entails screening of purposes and activities to ensure that they are not contrary to Canadian public policy. She then queried if the CRA already does such a review, why this attestation? In her view, the attestation requirement is about changing the Canadian public policy so that eventually the government will force registered charities go through a similar test.

When I posted Raitt’s comments on my Twitter account I was interested to see that one pro-choice advocate confirmed that, indeed, Raitt is on the right track.

They also provided a link to the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada’s policy paper wherein they call for the removal of registered charitable status of charities that do not support abortion.  As the paper points out:

Almost all anti-abortion groups are religiously-based and motivated, because the anti-choice viewpoint is fundamentally a religious doctrine. Some counselling groups proselytize openly (often to unsuspecting and vulnerable clients), even though they obtained their charitable status on claims of being “educational” or engaged in “research” or “family/crisis counselling.” In fact, most Canadian anti-abortion counselling centres with charitable status are explicitly Christian.

Given the fact that the federal government is highly attuned to the demands of the pro-abortion community, this latest call for the removal of registered charitable status for religious communities that have an “anti-abortion” position has got to be taken seriously. This forms part of the reasoning which compels CCCC and other religious groups to push back against the CSJ attestation requirement. In short, the attestation is but the thin edge of the wedge.

On March 19 the House of Commons will continue this debate and a vote will be called. In the meantime, there is much work to be done. You can contact your local Member of Parliament requesting that he or she vote in favor of this motion, because through this motion the country has an opportunity to let its voice be heard. The result will directly impact the lives of students and public benefit programs that charities, non-profits and small businesses have been unable to carry out thanks to the attestation requirement. To find out who your Member of Parliament is and how to contact them go to http://www.ourcommons.ca/parliamentarians/en/constituencies/FindMP

Series Navigation<< URGENT: Watch Live Now Debate at the House of CommonsCanada Summer Jobs Motion is Defeated But The Issue Remains Very Much Alive >>

Thoughts on Parliament to Vote on March 19 on the Canada Summer Jobs Program

  1. Harold Jantz

    It is curious how those who view themselves as progressive suddenly become the more virtuous ones. They are now more virtuous than people deeply committed to their faith, more virtuous than those who stand in a long tradition of teaching, more virtuous than those who refuse to bend to innovations in law. Not only are they more virtuous, they also believe it is appropriate to force the less virtuous to bend to their new sense of virtue.

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  2. Jeffrey Stephaniuk

    What is next if you don’t agree with the government? Exclusion from funding as in Saskatchewan for not signing into the carbon tax. As for the summer jobs attestation, as you mention, the interpretation is not settled. It is based on the lie that the life of a human being is not ended in abortion, and that, as Ted Byfield has written, someone must die in order for women to be equal to men. The other foundational lie, in the context of equality of women with men, is very misogynistic: That a man can be as good of a woman as a woman. The problem isn’t about what one is struggling with in one’s individual life, but non elected ideologues and compelled speech of government gutting the very foundation of life in a democracy, which must be governed by a common human identity and not elitist advantages with the rest of us subservient to them.

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  3. Ian McKerracher

    I wonder what would have happened if the government had chosen another provided service with attestation. Last year, we were given a free pass to the national parks. What if that service was subject to this kind of scrutiny by our government? What is the difference, if any, of one government service and another?

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  4. Helen Snell

    I truly believe our government is definitely on the wrong path, forcing individuals and organizations to sign something they do not believe in if they want to be able to get a grant to allow our young people summer jobs. It is just so wrong. Where is our freedom of choice? It appears to be only one way and it is NOT one of freedom. Dictatorships and communist countries make you do this but I am so disappointed it has reached Canada.

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  5. Ted Scheniman

    If this passes, what is next? Will it be the use of school gymnasiums, community centres university facilities or arenas? Where does it stop, or does it?

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    1. Kathy Blackstaffe

      It already happened in Nanaimo a couple of years ago. City Council cancelled a presentation at our publicly owned convention centre a week before the meeting because the presenter had chic fil a as an advertiser in the states. Public outrage caused them to apologize and reimburse the participants but it will keep progressing until people get tired of fighting back and then the “ progressives” win.

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      1. Ian McKerracher

        To put this into one perspective, consider a scenario where the federal government offers us some of our money back to us for some other program, say, free access to the federal parks for a year. In order to access our money that they have taken (to redistribute that wealth supposedly, we have to sign their attestation forms.

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  6. Jerry Morgan

    May our Lord forgive the government of the day for their lack of respect for our freedom of speech and religion.

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  7. Virginia Hoover

    They should remember the diversity of taxpayers. The considerable percentage of us who are anti abortion do not want to see our taxes restricted to funding only organizations that are working against us.

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  8. c ryan

    First of all, I like to mention that the CCCC has an agenda here.
    And I agree that our government should not be funding your religious agenda.
    It has done if for to long and look what and where it got us.
    I understand you need to raise funds ,and polarizing this issue and misinforming your unenlightened followers are great way divide and bring in funds.
    Shame on you .
    WWJD. ???????

    Reply
    1. Barry W. BusseyBarry W. Bussey Post author

      Cyril thank you for your post. I appreciate your comments. While I would agree that we have an agenda – I do not agree with your characterization of our agenda. First, our agenda is to live in a country where there is a favourable legal, political and social environment for all of our 3400 members to continue their ministry of help and assistance to the Canadian public. Second, when our government overs a program to the public – it cannot then say that only those who agree with its social policies on moral issues will be entitled to participate. Third, we call upon all to recognize that this approach of government sets a dangerous precedent. It justifies the use of power for ideological ends. We have seen in our earth’s history that such an approach is dangerous to our general welfare.

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      1. Anthony Eisses

        Well said Barry. Thanks for standing up for the freedoms in this country which are continually being challenged.

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    2. Ian McKerracher

      Mr. Ryan,
      There is a gap in your reasoning that I would be interested in hearing how you justify. There are many studies that show Christian organizations providing up to $10 of social services for every tax dollar they are allowed to keep or are given by various levels of government. How do you suggest that these social services are funded? (talking about agendas)

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    3. Darren

      So c ryan your ok with revoking freedoms as long as not your freedom. That the charter only applies to,sum.

      Reply
  9. Ed Sharpe

    I never thought I would see the day that the Federal Government of Canada would punish individuals or organizations who do not agree with its social agenda. Obviously, I was wrong. This is stuff right out of the Dark Ages (read your history books). Shame on all those who proposed and support this archaic policy.
    I hope we all remember this during our next election.

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  10. Tim W Callaway

    Here’s hoping the government’s seeming intransigence prompts a long overdue conversation among the devout regarding the difference between being “pro-birth” and being “pro-life.” As Ontario ex-pat theologian, Ron Sider, (Eastern University/suburban Philly)so capably articulated years ago in his book COMPLETELY PRO-LIFE, there is a considerable difference between maintaining solely an ideological position on this topic and engaging the multi-faceted co$t of being more than merely “pro-birth.” Here’s hoping this moment in Canadian political history prompts some deeper thought on this component of the debate than most of the comparatively superficial, partisan protestations I’ve encountered to date.

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  11. David Chamberlain

    If history has taught us anything, it is the fact that once we allow our democratic voice to be minimalized and pushed back to allow whatever those in power dictate, this form of government becomes a dictatorship. Clearly this is the stance of this present government.
    It has allowed the killing of elderly people, the killing of innocent babies, and the blending of sexual identities.
    No longer is this country based on a code of ethics and absolute moral standards, and those who oppose the degeneration of these ideologies, are punished.
    This line of thinking is no different than the totalitarians who imposed their will upon the masses regardless of what the masses believed or felt was right.
    This truly is a horrifying step into authoritarianism. If we allow this, then we might as well turn a blind eye to everyone the government decides to persecute, because they no longer feel there is value to their lives.

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  12. Carmen Gauvin-O'Donnell

    Well in my case, asking my MP to vote will be irrelevant since she belongs to the Liberal Party and it demands that she be pro abortion in the first place, so there’s no way she’ll vote in favour of the motion. What a world.

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    1. David Baldock

      While you are likely correct in your assumption, that your Liberal MP is unlikely to personally vote in favour of the opposition motion, it is still important for all Liberal MP’s to hear from their constituents on this issue, regardless of where they fall on the debate. Your MP represents you and you have the right and responsibility to communicate with them when you find their party acting in ways you disapprove. It’s intimidating, I agree, to voice disagreement with an elected representative, but in Canada we do have that right. Failing to exercise that right takes us one step closer to losing it, so I encourage you to at least send an email so your opinion is noted.

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  13. Ken Roth

    It is one thing to require that we as citizens allow certain behaviours, like those who want abortions and those who chose the LGBQ lifestyle, but it is another thing to demand that we agree with or attest to the values they are espousing to make those choices. In a democracy we need to find a balance of allowing differing behaviours and yet allowing freedom of conscience to disagree with those behaviours. We allow that freedom when it comes to religious beliefs or political persuasions, but the present government does not appear prepared to allow this freedom when it comes to various life-style choices. If we allow the government to freely follow this ideology, our nation will become less free as a democracy.

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    1. Ian McKerracher

      What you are saying is the textbook definition of a “progressive”. It is certainly NOT enough to have a dislike for something. It must be banned everywhere to actually be of any consequence. There may be some; a limited few, in my Evangelical Christian demographic, who believe the same sort of way. The vast majority of religious people though have no desire for a theocracy. Not so the madness that has overtaken what was once called The Left. Tyranny is the only avenue left to push their agenda and I believe that it is going to end quite badly for all concerned.

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      1. Tim W Callaway

        What/whose textbook do you have in mind for your definition of “progressive,” Ian? Ken’s use of expressions like “those who chose (sic) the LGBQ lifestyle” and “life-style choices” excludes him from what most have in mind today when they identify with the “progressive” component of Christianity. Regardless of one’s own perspective on the matter, I believe it’s accurate to say that most “progressives” in the latter sense do not view someone’s homosexual orientation as a “life-style” or a “life-style choice.” Rather, it’s a part of who they are as a human being.

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        1. Ian McKerracher

          and the progressive part is that there is an assumption that those who disagree not only are wrong but should be sanctioned in some way. The Progressive part is that normalization of the LBGT dogma needs to run apace even though there is good evidence that it is not much of a help for them to escape the depression, suicidal tendencies, and the other physical issues that arise form their pursuits. Progressive is anti-science and should be seen as such.

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  14. Diane Ullrich

    This amendment limits women’s choices to those of the government. Pro-Life is a choice. It should be recognized!!

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  15. Florence Pope

    I agree with Ken Ross in comment #12. Will Canada be a democratic country in 5 years from now? Not if everyone is bullied into agreeing with these sorts of statements. As he said it’s one thing to tolerate change but to be forced to agree with something we believe is unethical and downright wrong is another.

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  16. Ellen Tree

    I don’t see why it matters where a church or a Christian group stands on abortion in order to qualify for assistance. This is supposed to be a free country.

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  17. Mark Glaab

    Many Christians voted for Justin Trudeau. Perhaps it does make a difference who we elect as our leaders. The most important reaction you have to anything the government does is your vote … use it!

    Reply
  18. Ruby Bretz

    I hope this does not pass This is discrimination dictatorship.We are supposed to be tolerant .Our Nation will not succeed until Christians and Jews have same freedom other organizations have. We do share Jesus with others now but like Russia is that coming to our Nation? Jesus is The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the World.

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  19. Jane Stuebing

    I know of one religious organization, that runs summer camps across Canada. They make all their employees and volunteers sign a pledge stating that only the marriage of one man and one woman is acceptable. Even divorced people must be especially approved. They make LGTB staff resign and they certainly don’t allow others to apply. This is blanket discrimination. I don’t want my tax dollars supporting this. Obviously they have the right to their beliefs, but they should be internally fund raising. Tax dollars must be in keeping with the laws of the land.

    Reply
    1. Ian McKerracher

      I think that is the point. The government cannot go against the Charter rights of an organization just because you don’t like them. Your desire for the “laws of the land” to be upheld is counter to the initiative of the Liberals. I also want those laws to be upheld. AND I am not convinced that the organization that you mentioned actually exists.

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  20. Lan

    If the government is asking religious organizations to agree to their policies like abortion, before allowing us access to their programs and funding, can we also ask them to collect tax only to people who agrees all to their policies? If this passes, registered Charitable Organizations will be next in line to be required to attest to agree to all their public policies like abortion before they can be recognized.

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  21. Mac Jewell

    This amounts to a type of blackmail and extortion to force a pro-abortion attestation on people who’s religious convictions are not respected and in order for us to sign such a document we would have to renounce our beliefs and be limited in our freedom to practice our faith according to God and not government dictates. After all I thought we are a democracy not a Communist state!

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