OTTAWA, December 15, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — A spokesman for Conservative leader Andrew Scheer says Canadians should be alarmed that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Liberal government is requiring employers to attest to their support of reproductive and transgender “rights” to receive summer job grants.
“Canadians should be very concerned that the government of Canada is basing its funding decisions on whether or not you hold a certain belief,” said Jake Enwright, Scheer’s director of communications.
“We’re also concerned that individuals who hold private convictions may, for example, no longer be able to help care for the disabled or refugees or provide day camps for children in need,” he told LifeSiteNews in a telephone interview.
Non-profit groups, small businesses, and public sector employers can apply for funding through the Canada Summer Jobs to create jobs for students from 15 to 30 years of age.
According to a government information package to all MPs, employers seeing funding through Canada Summer Jobs must now attest that:
both the job and the 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.
The Liberals are also making organizations that support the LGBTQ2 community a funding priority, according to the information package.
They are also focusing on employers that provide jobs for unrepresented groups such as indigenous youth, or jobs for women in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics sector, it said.
The new criteria will be posted online when the program opens December 19.
The Liberals made the change “to prevent Government of Canada funding from flowing to organizations whose mandates or projects may not respect individual human rights, the values underlying the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and associated case law,” states the information package.
“Additionally, these changes help prevent youth (as young as 15 years of age) from being exposed to employment within organizations that may promote positions that are contrary to the values enshrined in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and associated case law,” it reads.
“This change helps to ensure that youth job opportunities funded by the Government of Canada take place in an environment that respects the rights of all Canadians,” it stated.
But basing funding on a “core mandate” is not the same as not funding certain activities, which is what governments always have done and will do.
“If the government of Canada wanted to achieve a policy objective, it could simply do that by saying we will not fund people to do x, y or z,” Enwright said. “This is different.”
The policy “is not written to dissuade any type of activity, it’s talking about ‘core mandate’ and ‘core beliefs’,” he said.
The Charter of Rights and Freedoms “exists to ensure that the government does not discriminate against you based on your beliefs,” added Enwright.
“It’s your right not to believe in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, but it is a litmus test for the government of Canada to decide how to treat its citizens,” he said.
“It’s not the government’s tool for protecting itself, it’s your tool to protect you from the government.”
Formerly, it was up to individual MPs to assess and approve funding applications from groups in their ridings.
But after media firestorm in April year over revelations Liberal MP Iqra Khalid approved summer job grants to pro-life groups in 2016, Trudeau’s government decreed no Liberal MP would do so again.
Moreover, official word from employment minister Patty Hajdu at the time was that she would change the way the summer job program was administered to prevent pro-life groups receiving funds in the future.
Enwright couldn’t say how the Official Opposition plans to respond because the Conservative caucus is on Christmas break and won’t reconvene until January.
“We will be having a discussion as a caucus at the earliest opportunity” to decide “what next steps will be taken,” he said. “I don’t think this is an issue that will go away.”
“You should question the timing of this as well,” he told LifeSiteNews.