The Post Millennial Embrace progressive cultural values when you hire a student, or we won’t show you the money, says federal government

The Post Millennial - Wednesday January 10th, 2018

Do what we say or fail in competition 

The Canada Summer Jobs (CSJ) program subsidizes employers who hire full-time secondary and post-secondary students, aged 15-30, for summer jobs, to the tune of between 50-100% of their hourly minimum wage. The Liberals have doubled the number of placements each year; today about 70,000 students work for non-profit organizations and small businesses with 50 or fewer employees. CSJ is a win-win for both employers and students.

In the past, local MPs used their own discretion to decide which groups would be given priority to receive CSJ funding. Groups such as Campaign Life Coalition, Life Site News, Priests for Life, and the Canadian Centre for Bioethical Reform used to receive funding. But they won’t anymore.

In 2018, for the first time, a requirement has been added to the application process that will doubtlessly prove an insuperable obstacle for faith-based program employers.

Now, eligibility will demand that CSJ applicants “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.”

Further paragraphs on the issues that are especially dear to our government’s present-day heart home in on “the right to access safe and legal abortion,” and “the right to live according to their gender identity and express their gender as they choose, free from discrimination,” because our government “is committed to protecting the dignity, security, and rights of gender-diverse and transgender Canadians.”

Compelled Action

The government defends this compelled attestation as a means of preventing government funding “from flowing to organizations whose mandates or projects may not respect individual human rights.”

Let’s stipulate at the outset that the government is not obliged to fund any and all employers who request a CSJ subsidy. The government is free to decide for itself if certain businesses or organizations are inherently out of bounds for funding as employers to whom the government wants to deliver students. The porn industry, though a legal business, springs to mind as one good example. Programs run by political parties might be another. As well, the government is and should be free to provide more dollars proportionately to industries they wish to encourage, such as tourism or mining, than to others, such as marijuana production.

But if the government is giving funds to not-for-profits and charities as a whole, it should not discriminate against those run by pro-choice and LGBT activist groups, and faith groups that are in general pro-life, and who believe the response to children who present as trans should be the “mental health model” rather than the “affirmation” model implied as the default in the government’s wording. None of these groups seek to overturn laws by revolutionary means. These are opinions the members of this group hold.

These points of view may run counter to prevailing cultural perspectives, and certainly to values espoused by the Liberal party, but actually to withhold funding on that account is in effect a punishment for what a government of all Canadians considers to be thought crimes.

Those affected by the CSJ decision are not taking it lying down. The Toronto Right to Life Association, for one, has announced it is taking the federal Liberal government to court over its decision.  “Trudeau is using the Canada Summer Jobs Program to compel and coerce Canadians to renounce their deeply held religious or moral beliefs, in exchange for federal funding,” said Jack Fonseca, spokesperson for Campaign Life Coalition, in a statement posted online. He is right.

Real Danger

There is a greater danger in this “compelled speech” precedent. The CSJ attestation initiative will, after all, affect only a limited number of Canadians, who happen also to be those least-respected by our cultural elites. But once the principle of government-compelled speech as a pre-requisite for funding becomes a reality, might it not seem to the government a good idea to apply the principle in a much wider arc?

One lawyer of my acquaintance mused about the slippery slope of ideological coercion the government may have embarked on. “How,” he asked me, “is this requirement for the summer jobs program different from stipulating that in order for seniors to get their CPP cheque, they must tell the government that they support abortion and the LGBTQ agenda?” At one time, I would have laughed at such an idea. But given Bill C-16 (which compels ideology-constructed speech), and this new CSJ directive, I am not laughing at all.