Taken from: The Record
In response to the Liberal government’s “value test” on the new Canada Summer Jobs Act, Joyce Stankiewicz of New Hamburg has initiated a federal petition with sponsorship from Kitchener-Conestoga MP Harold Albrecht.
At the time of the publication, the petition is close to 6,000 online signatures, after going live on Feb. 6.
“We want the number of people to sign as high as possible, because at the end of the day it’s about sending a message to our government,” said Albrecht.
“If people don’t like the way that it’s going, they have to speak up,” said Stankiewicz. “You deserve what you get when you say nothing.”
The message Stankiewicz, Albrecht, and nearly 6,000 other Canadians are trying to let Justin Trudeau’s Liberals hear is that of free speech and freedom of faith.
Changes were recently made to the Canadian Summer Jobs Act, a federal grant program that offers business and organization applicants financial aid to hire student workers for the summer season. Albrecht and many of his fellow Conservative MP’s were quick to notice an attestation made to the program, which stated that to be eligible, the job and organization must respect human rights in Canada, including values underlying those in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms as well as other rights.
The “as well as other rights” phrase and what followed did not sit well with many.
“Where do you draw the line in adding and enforcing other rights on top of the charter?” said Albrecht. “The core mandate of the charter is to respect all values, whether you personally believe in them or not.”
The attestation goes on to state that these other values 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.”
Albrecht says that he immediately received contact from concerned individuals and groups about this change in the program who didn’t want to take this value test, and many that were no longer considering even applying.
“The concerns here are about groups being forced to fit the ideologies of the Liberal party, how this affects services offered, as well as students therefore not being given employment opportunities,” said Albrecht.
In a January town hall, Prime Minister Trudeau responded to the criticism and confusion over the Summer Jobs Act, saying that the attestation does not mean religion and faith groups cannot apply for the program.
He then articulated that the change does intend to send the message that, “an organization that has the explicit purpose of restricting women’s rights by removing rights for abortions and for women to control their own bodies, is not in line with where we are as a government and where we are as a society.”
Stankiewicz says that as someone who ks pro-life and a Conservative, she was upset to hear that values like hers were being put to a test. She was one of many who reached out to Albrecht, who after holding a roundtable discussion with a number of local organizations, encouraged Stankiewicz to initiate a petition against the attestation that he would sponsor.
And while the petition does not enforce any change onto the Canadian Student Jobs Act when it closes on June 6, Albrecht does have a solution for how to address the issue.
“Remove this policy and just state what they will and will not support with funding,” he said. “We’re simply asking for more transparency. We all agree to stand by the charter, but to specify certain values adds confusion.
“Simply include limitations on anti-abortion organizations if that is the intention.”
Over the past five years, anti-abortion groups including Campaign Life Coalition and the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform have used the Canada Summer Jobs program to secure roughly $3.5 million in public funds.