Trudeau or Nothing
Canada Summer Jobs Program attestation hurts students
By: Kevin Geenen
If you have been paying attention to the news throughout the past month, then you will know that Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party of Canada added a discriminatory attestation to the Canada Summer Jobs Program.
The attestation is a values test that is discriminatory to those who hold a pro-life position or those who simply wish to remain silent on the issue of abortion. Employers are caught up in the middle of this dilemma. They risk signing the attestation while denouncing their values – or not receiving necessary funds at all. Many students worry that they will be unemployed during the summer months.
Viewpoint discrimination is not new. It has been happening at universities across Canada in attempts to silence pro-life students. For example, the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa passed a motion last November stating that: “No resources, space, recognition, or funding will be allocated to enhance groups/individuals with the primary/sole purpose of pro-life activities.”
Ruth Shaw, Executive Director of National Campus Life Network, says that it all started in 2006 when “there was a massive turn against pro-life clubs” in the policies and actions of various university administrations.
“This censorship became normalized, paving the way for others,” she says. The federal government is following suit by censoring summer jobs.
On a positive note, the deadline for applications to the Canada Summer Jobs program was extended to Feb. 9, meaning that there is still time for people to lobby the government about the discriminatory clause. Lobbying can come in the form of signing a petition, sending an email, or sharing your story.
Perhaps the best option for employers is to check off the attestation, but cross out the parts that infringe on the organization’s beliefs. Another option that groups are using is adding a footnote or additional sheet clarifying where they stand on both abortion and gender expression.
The attestation itself states that “Canada Summer Jobs applicants will be required to attest that both the job and the organization’s core mandate respect individual human rights in Canada, including the values underlying the Charter of Rights and Freedoms as well as other rights. These include reproductive rights…” The attestation then defines reproductive rights as “the right to access safe and legal abortions.”
Essentially, the Government is saying that, if groups want to receive funding, they must support abortion.
The Government published “Supplementary Information” on its website on Jan. 23, clarifying the wording of the attestation. The “Supplementary Information” says that an organization’s values and beliefs alone do not constitute ineligibility.
However, values manifest themselves through words and actions (for if they did not, then we would question whether one holds their beliefs with any importance). That is why no pro-life organization can sign the attestation.
After the “Supplementary Information” was added, nearly 90 religious organizations, including the Canadian Council of Imams, Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, Canadian Council of Catholic Bishops, and the Jewish Shaarei Shomayim Congregation sent a joint letter to the Liberal Party calling on them to “amend the guidelines and application process.”
Prime Minister Trudeau defended the attestation by falsely referring to abortion access as a “Charter right.”
“An organization that has as its stated goal to remove rights from Canadians, to remove the right that women have fought for to determine what happens to their own bodies, is not in line with where the Charter is or where the government of Canada is,” said Trudeau.
Let’s be clear: there is no Charter right to abortion, but there are rights to freedom of conscience, religion, belief, opinion, thought, and expression.
If we want to live in a democratic society, then this type of discrimination must be eradicated. Although, the media attention is nice.
Blog post author Kevin Geenen is a political science and communications student at the University of Ottawa. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.