House of Commons Hansard #269 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was organizations.

Topics

Opposition Motion—Canada Summer Jobs ProgramBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

March 1st, 2018 / 4:25 p.m.

Conservative

Michael Cooper Conservative St. Albert—Edmonton, AB

Mr. Speaker, I speak in strong support of our Conservative motion calling on the government to remove the outrageous and unconstitutional Liberal values test that requires individuals or organizations applying under the Canada summer jobs program to sign an attestation that they subscribe to and support the principles and values of the Liberal Party of Canada as a prerequisite for funding. The members opposite can sugar-coat, downplay, and misrepresent the values test they have imposed, but make no mistake about it, in substance that is precisely what the government is calling upon individuals and organizations to do. This Liberal values test is wrong. It is discriminatory. It is mean-spirited. It violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

What it means is that churches and faith-based groups right across Canada are going to be denied funding under the Canada summer jobs program, churches and faith-based groups that have relied upon the Canada summer jobs program to do the many good works they do in communities across Canada. These groups, churches, and organizations have hired students to do things like helping refugees, feeding the hungry, and providing summer camps for kids. Not only that, thousands of students across Canada have gained valuable and practical experience. I would submit that, in many cases, it is more than just practical, hands-on experience because when we are talking about working with refugees, assisting and helping feed the hungry, or working with kids at a summer camp, that type of work for a young person, a student, can be meaningful, impactful, life-changing, and life-lasting. However, now that is at risk, thanks to the government's bigoted summer jobs attestation, a Liberal values test.

As a result, churches and faith-based groups are faced with a choice. They can sell out their principles and values by signing the attestation, or they can forfeit funding. This is not something abstract. This is not something academic. This is something real, and it is taking place right across Canada.

The hon. members opposite keep talking about the fact that there really is no problem here and applicants should just sign the attestation. I mean, who could disagree with the attestation?

I have a church in my riding that signed the attestation and sent a letter along with the application. They checked off the attestation indicating that they objected to the attestation and that they believed it contravened the charter rights that apply to them, including freedom of religion, freedom of expression, and freedom of belief. What happened to their application? It was rejected. It was sent back to them. So much for the words of those hon. members who say there is no problem here, because here is an example of a church that signed the attestation and had the application rejected.

It was hiring students for many years and had no problem until this Liberal values test. It was hiring students, and I am reading from its application, “to assist persons with disabilities, to assist newcomers to Canada, to assist indigenous peoples, to assist visible minorities, and to work with children and youth.” Thanks to the Liberal government's values test, its application was rejected.

Another organization in my riding has just given up. It said that it cannot, in good conscience, sign on to a values test that talks about a core mandate. It is not about accepting the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. That is not what the attestation says. It says a lot more than that. It talks about a core mandate, and it goes on. The organization said, “This is not our core mandate. We cannot sign off on that in all honesty. We have more integrity than that. We do not agree with it. It is not our values.” How many other organizations are like that? This organization runs a summer day camp for vulnerable youth. Nonetheless, despite the government's intolerant and bigoted values test, the organization is going to try to move ahead with the summer camp. However, it just does not know whether the summer camp for vulnerable youth will be there this summer. That is a real shame, and that is thanks to the current government.

The Prime Minister likes to talk a good game. As his usual self-righteous self, he speaks about diversity, inclusivity, and tolerance. However, actions speak louder than words. Time and again, the actions of the government are different from the words it speaks with respect to diversity, tolerance, and inclusivity.

The member for Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia—Headingley talks about the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Through this Canada summer jobs Liberal values test, the government has demonstrated that it has no regard for the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This is a government that has no regard for fundamental freedoms, the section 2 rights under the charter: freedom of religion, conscience, and expression. These are not just any freedoms but fundamental freedoms.

The Liberal values test is antithetical to inclusivity, diversity, and tolerance. It is antithetical to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It is antithetical to Canadian values. If the government meant what it said and did what it said, it would do the right thing and withdraw this bigoted, intolerant, unconstitutional, and Orwellian Liberal values test.

Opposition Motion—Canada Summer Jobs ProgramBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

Liberal

Ken Hardie Liberal Fleetwood—Port Kells, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is really distressing to hear the hon. member across the way continue to confuse and inflame the situation by the constant reference to “values”. In the attestation, the word used is “mandate”. In conversations I have had with churches in my riding, I made it very clear that if there is nothing in their mission statements and vision statements that says they are deliberately in business to work against certain rights and freedoms that women and the LGBTQ2 community enjoy, they should have no problem ticking off the attestation, because that is not the business they are in. I also had a conversation with a Baptist minister and said that the chance of abortion or gay rights coming up at a soccer camp or a cooking class are zero.

Will the member start to take responsibility for using the word “values” incorrectly, when it is not mentioned in the attestation? Will he take responsibility for the fact that a lot of churches will not go ahead and run their summer camp programs because of the way he has deliberately misinterpreted what the attestation says?

Opposition Motion—Canada Summer Jobs ProgramBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

Michael Cooper Conservative St. Albert—Edmonton, AB

Mr. Speaker, in fact, it does say “values”. It also speaks about a core mandate and goes beyond stating that an organization adhere to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. What the hon. member is saying is simply false. Not only that, based on the experience of the church in my riding, it apparently is not even good enough to sign the attestation. In the case of that church, it was rejected out of hand on the basis that it simply expressed opposition to having to sign the attestation for a program that would have provided services to indigenous peoples, disabled Canadians, refugees, children, and youth. It is a real shame.

Opposition Motion—Canada Summer Jobs ProgramBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

Chris Bittle Liberal St. Catharines, ON

Mr. Speaker, we hear Conservative speaker after Conservative speaker mention a Liberal “values test”, and that seems like code. They do not want to come out and say pro-choice. They do not want the Canadian public to find out, so they are trying to embed this code, “Liberal values test”, which is the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It is shameful.

Knowing full well that nothing in this attestation limits anyone's access to freedom of religion or freedom of speech, how can the hon. member, who is a lawyer, stand in this House and suggest that this violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms?

Opposition Motion—Canada Summer Jobs ProgramBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

Michael Cooper Conservative St. Albert—Edmonton, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have no hesitation talking about what this attestation says, which includes a core mandate respecting reproductive rights. In a free and democratic society, there can be no religious or values test, and that is precisely what the government is trying to impose upon churches and faith-based organizations. The hon. member knows full well that many churches and faith-based organizations cannot, in good conscience, sign on to that, because at the end of the day, that is not part of their core mandate.

Opposition Motion—Canada Summer Jobs ProgramBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

Robert Sopuck Conservative Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa, MB

Mr. Speaker, the other two parties in this House always claim that they are progressive. I am reminded of what the great free market economist Friedrich Hayek said, that inside every progressive is a totalitarian screaming to get out.

This is why I am so proud to be a Conservative. In our caucus, there are people with multiple views. I happen to be pro-choice. Others happen to be pro-life. We have members who work with the LGBT community. Not once have I, as a Conservative MP, ever been coerced or told to change my beliefs. My beliefs and the beliefs of my friends and colleagues are accepted and cherished by all of us, regardless of what those beliefs are.

What is it about the Conservative Party that makes us so different from the totalitarians on the other side?

Opposition Motion—Canada Summer Jobs ProgramBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

Michael Cooper Conservative St. Albert—Edmonton, AB

Mr. Speaker, unlike those on the other side, we welcome Canadians to freely express their views. We value the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. We respect fundamental freedoms: freedom of religion, conscience, and expression. That is something the hon. members opposite seem to have a problem with.

How did we even get here? How did we even get to this point? There was no problem with this program until the government decided to drive a wedge and divide Canadians. It is politics at its worst.

Opposition Motion—Canada Summer Jobs ProgramBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

It is my duty, pursuant to Standing Order 38, to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Kootenay—Columbia, Health; the hon. member for North Island—Powell River, Access to Information; and the hon. member for Calgary Rocky Ridge, Housing.

Opposition Motion—Canada Summer Jobs ProgramBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:40 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, as always, it is a great honour to rise in this House and represent the people of Timmins—James Bay. I will be sharing my time with my colleague, my very close neighbour from the great riding of Abitibi—Témiscamingue.

As honoured as I am to stand here, I find it unfortunate to watch the Liberals and Conservatives use a program for giving young people opportunities as a proxy for a culture war and to see them talking about freedom and totalitarianism. The Liberals are using their full-progress agenda, when we are talking about organizations that do an incredible amount of work in each of our communities to help young people. That is the focus of what we should be dealing with here.

I want to say that the Canada summer jobs program in my region of Timmins—James Bay does extraordinary work. My riding is bigger than Great Britain, and as an MP, I am very involved in making sure that the program is accessible, right across the region, to ensure a balance so that communities in the far, isolated reserves of James Bay can have young people hired and that in the isolated farming communities, students who come home can get work. It is for the Franco-Ontarian community to make sure that all the cultural organizations have representation and for the great groups like the YMCA, the Heart and Stroke Foundation, and Science Timmins.

This is an incredible program. What I find very unfortunate in this debate is the undermining of that program, by both the Liberals and the Conservatives, and the undermining of people of religious faith who believe that they can access this program.

At the outset, for me the issue of a woman's right to choose is non-negotiable. It is a fundamental principle, but it is not the issue we tend to deal with when we are hiring for Canada summer jobs. However, there have been abuses, and I am glad to see that the Liberal government recognized that there were abuses.

In my riding, every year a group I never heard of before, called Priests for Life, got on the list to get Canada summer jobs. I had never heard of Priests for Life, so I checked them out on their website. They have an American flag. They have the White House. It is a militant, right-wing, anti-abortion organization. It should not be getting money for young people in my region. I looked it up to see what kind of work young people do. They actually have on their page a special link to Real Estate for Life. It is promoting real estate agents for life. Talk about the money changers in the temple. That is an organization that should never have gotten the money.

An abuse like that could have been easily fixed by the Liberal government stating that if an organization uses the funds to promote an extremist agenda, it will not be eligible. However, the Liberals, being Liberals, came up with a very ham-fisted response.

Call me cynical, but the Liberals love culture wars. They made a values test that was unnecessary for all the organizations that sign up. Now they are trying to do damage control by saying that they did not really mean that. The Conservatives, of course, love this kind of culture war and are jumping on it.

What is really concerning to me is that all the good religious groups that apply year after year are being given the impression that they are no longer eligible because of the abuse of the process by one, two, or three extremists groups across Canada that should never have been eligible in the first place.

I learned my politics in the church. I remember as a young kid the priests organizing for the grape boycott and learning about Cesar Chavez. Growing up we thought that like not eating fish on Friday, eating grapes was some kind of mortal sin, because there was a major international boycott to defend the farm workers. We learned that in our parishes. We learned about standing up for the poor. We learned about public service.

As I grew older, I continued my work. I was a youth leader in our church. The work we did in our church was helping kids from all backgrounds, kids who never went to church, kids of any faith who had no place else to go, and offering them summer events. I see in my region that faith groups are still doing that. That is good, important work. I want to say that we value that work. We value it across the faith spectrum of the groups that are doing social justice, the groups that are helping and encouraging young people. That is where we need to focus. We need to talk about the role Canada summer jobs can play in offering young people opportunities.

In a region as big as mine, we see youth outmigration as one of the fundamental problems facing our communities. If young people want post-secondary education, they have to leave home to go to university. Many of them are so loaded with student debt that coming home is not an option. Just as we lose our trees, just as our hydro leaves, just as our copper, our gold, and our nickel heads south to help Queen's Park, so do our young people.

It has been an fundamental principle for me in using the Canada summer jobs program to make sure that a young person in Matachewan gets an opportunity for employment, that young people in Timmins are able to get good work experience working with excellent organizations, like the Heart and Stroke Foundation, and that the kids in Fort Albany are able to save money, especially the ones who have to leave to go to school.

That is the kind of vision we have to have for the Canada summer jobs program. What we have seen from the Liberal government is a completely ham-fisted, over-the-top response that was completely unnecessary. In doing so, it has rattled public confidence in the Canada summer jobs program. I think it has unfairly politicized the Canada summer jobs program and made people in the faith community believe that they are not eligible and are going to have to go through some kind of bizarre test that the Conservatives are talking about to prove their worthiness. All that was needed was a simple check to make sure that those extremist organizations were not abusing the program. Shame on the Conservatives for telling the faith communities across Canada that they are no longer eligible.

As a member of Parliament, I take my work on the Canada summer jobs program extremely seriously. I am involved with Service Canada in laying out what the priorities are for our region. For me, it is the importance of isolated, rural communities; making sure that people get good experience in the non-profit sector; and the work of cultural organizations in our region, particularly in a rural, francophone region. These are organizations that play a vital role.

It is my role as an MP to be part of that. It is my responsibility as a member of Parliament to make sure that we are getting the maximum amount. By the way, we get record funding year after year in Timmins—James Bay. I just want to say that we are making sure every year that the maximum dollars that are eligible come into our riding and are best used.

This is the conversation we need to have. I would implore the Liberal government to realize that their ham-fisted responses are not the best way to solve things that could be solved in a straightforward manner and to reassure Canadians. I ask my colleagues in the Conservative Party, as well, to stop the fear game. Faith communities of all faiths are still very much a central part of helping in public service, of ensuring that young people get opportunities, and of doing the front-line work making our communities better and safer and giving young people hope.

This is our fundamental role, giving young people a belief that Canada is a land of opportunity and giving them a reason to hope. We can use the Canada summer jobs program in such an important and valuable way. I am here to say that we will work as New Democrats to defend the Canada summer jobs program and keep it from the nasty culture wars the Liberals and Conservatives love to engage in whenever they get the opportunity. Shame on them for using the Canada summer jobs program to fight their proxy wars.

Opposition Motion—Canada Summer Jobs ProgramBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:45 p.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, I was disappointed to hear my colleague say shame on the Conservatives for telling faith groups that they did not qualify. I can assure my colleague that it was faith groups and non-faith groups that approached us, as members of Parliament. They were very concerned about this attestation, which demanded that they sign a statement, which, in their conscience, they could not sign. Do we have freedom of belief, freedom of religion, and freedom of conscience, or do we not?

It is disappointing to hear my colleague say that. Could he just clarify what he means, when a person with strong convictions on any topic is forced to deny those beliefs simply to get government funding? Is that not the very definition of hypocrisy?

Opposition Motion—Canada Summer Jobs ProgramBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, we are talking about programs that service young people. That is what our focus has to be. The fact that those programs have to be committed to a vision of inclusion, I have no problem with.

This is a fundamental question. What we have seen from the Conservatives today is that they are saying that signing is an issue about the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, that it is an attack on the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. That to me is illogical. They have also suggested that their solution would be to simply say that it is a charitable organization. Well, I am sorry but just because one gets charitable status does not mean that one should get money to help young people. I would not give it to the Fraser Institute, although God knows how it managed to get charitable status in the first place.

Then I heard the Conservatives suggest earlier today they thought that with the charitable status, they could start going after groups for their charitable status. Whoa, who invented that? It was the Conservatives who attacked groups like Environmental Defence, and attacked PEN, the international organization representing the rights of imprisoned authors. They were being attacked by the Conservatives under the CRA for what they said was political meddling.

I think that the Conservatives have used this as a proxy war to fight with the Liberals. Let us stay focused on the need to ensure that young people have access to good opportunities in the summer.

Opposition Motion—Canada Summer Jobs ProgramBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, the member across the way is confusing in terms of where the NDP actually might be on the issue.

A great deal of thought went into the application process. The Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour came up with the proposal which received great support from a wide spectrum of stakeholders. In fact, at the time when it was announced, the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley, an NDP member of Parliament, said that, no, it was terrible, but within hours, of course, he had changed his mind and said it was a good thing.

Now, when I listen to the member across the way, he is adding to the confusion. What is the NDP position on it? Is the NDP saying that what the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour has done by incorporating the attestation is a positive thing, or does the NDP believe that it is a negative thing?

Opposition Motion—Canada Summer Jobs ProgramBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, being that my hon. colleague has to make stuff up about what my colleague from Skeena—Bulkley Valley said I would suggest is indicative of basically his entire political career in the House where he acts as sort of the Liberal version of Ezra Levant on a daily basis.

If he is confused and is worried that he cannot understand, the fact is I said very clearly that it was appalling the ham-fisted way the Liberals responded to something that could have been a simple check. That would be what good government would be. However, the reason the Liberals want to do that is so that they can engage in a culture war with the Conservatives, and they have a culture war.

What we are doing as New Democrats is working in our ridings reassuring religious communities that, yes, they could still get this funding and to not get caught up in the dumb games being played by the Liberals because of their ham-fisted response or the fearmongering of the Conservatives.

Opposition Motion—Canada Summer Jobs ProgramBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.

NDP

Christine Moore NDP Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, to understand today's motion, we need to understand how the Canada summer jobs program works and especially how members of Parliament are involved.

This is a program that helps young people by giving them job opportunities. The purpose is not to replace a worker who would have done the work anyway. It is perfectly clear that when employers apply for funding, it is for a project that will not happen if they do not get the money. For example, an employer cannot hire a young person to do the work a municipal employee would have done. The employer has to prove that the job would not exist without the funding. The purpose of the program is not to replace existing workers by giving their jobs to students. I think that is key to understanding the program. It really is about special projects.

The first phase of an MP's involvement is identifying their riding's priorities. For example, in my riding, I will be focusing on projects related to agriculture and agri-food, projects that support people who are suffering, and projects that promote tourism. Those are the priorities I chose for my riding. I reassess regularly. I also chose to add projects that promote physical activity. It really is up to MPs to set priorities.

If members do not know which priorities to choose, they can get help. For example, Employment and Social Development Canada can tell MPs what their ridings' priorities were in the past. That is the first phase of an MP's involvement: setting priorities. Projects that are directly related to priorities identified by MPs get a few extra points added to their score. That, in a nutshell, is the first part of members' involvement in the program.

Next, officials carry out a detailed analysis of all projects. They use the scoring guide to award points to every project. Once all projects have been scored, MPs receive the list of recommended projects and the list of projects that were not recommended because their score did not qualify them for funding.

MPs are asked to review this list with Canada summer jobs officials. They can ask questions about the applications, such as what exactly the project was about and where the individual would work. They can request additional information about the projects to have a good understanding of how much was allocated and why. If they disagree, they can ask for changes. For example, they can ask that additional hours be allocated. If they strongly disagree with a project, they can even ask that it not receive funding. The fact that the project was changed at the request of the MP and the reasons for the changes are clearly indicated. The proponent will be informed.

Thus, if projects do not respect the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, MPs already have an opportunity to intervene without the changes that the Liberals tried to make. We can ask what the project entails and what organization is sponsoring it. I believe it is important that we make an effort to find out, especially when we receive lists of projects where the business is identified by its business number. I do this all the time when I review my list. I ask a lot of questions because the business number does not tell me the exact nature of the business. Even without the Liberal changes, MPs can intervene to ensure that the projects are good ones and that they will help young people improve their skills. If necessary, we can intervene if we believe that changes should be made.

It is important to fully understand that, because we are now in a situation where some members may have shown a lack of judgment by favouring organizations whose mandate and work ran counter to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Thanks to a lapse in judgment by certain members, the decision was made to apply a clumsy systemic solution that worried many organizations, because the solution was poorly explained and it was unclear where it was coming from.

I think it is sad that we have ended up in this situation, because this program does a lot of good in our communities. We had some leeway. It could be said that this has scared off organizations that might be of a religious nature, but that were nevertheless working on the ground to help people.

In my riding, for example, there is a religious organization called La Fabrique de La Reine, which submitted a project for a religious interpretive museum. A museum was created in the church with all the traditional Catholic objects of the past, and visitors learn about what they are. This is really a tourism project, since no one is even being asked to promote religious values. The project is related to religion, of course, but it is much more about history and tourism. Because of the misinformation that followed the change in the program introduced by the Liberals, this organization may have misinterpreted what it was about.

When people commit an error in judgment, it is worth asking whether the solution is to make systemic changes to a program that was working fine, or whether any changes could have been implemented less clumsily.

The Canada summer jobs program is really about the work, not the organization. In other words, no points are given for what is not on the form. We do not evaluate the organization, we evaluate the work. For example, tourism is one of my priorities, and if a tourism business wants to hire someone to cut the grass on its property, it will not get many points because that kind of work is not directly related to tourism. It is just maintenance work, and work like that does not enable young people to acquire specific skills.

What we want is to select projects that will really enable young people to develop specific skills. For example, we select projects that are directly related to the established priorities. Take tourism, which is one of my riding's priorities. If the project involves setting up an exhibit about women who have changed the history of Abitibi—Témiscamingue, that is really a tourism-related project, because the person involved will develop management and research skills and will have to do advertising and set up the exhibit. That is the kind of work that really helps people develop skills.

It is extremely important to understand that the program is centred on the task and the work completed. Obviously, it is important to verify the organization you are dealing with.

That brings me to another problem that was created when the Conservatives were in power. A lot of positions were cut in various regions. Applications addressed to Canada summer jobs used to be processed in Abitibi—Témiscamingue by my constituency employee who was working for Service Canada at the time. His position was cut when the government decided to bring the Canada summer jobs application processing back to Laval. Now Laval reviews the projects and makes the decisions. At the end of the day it is the member of Parliament who has the final say, of course, but Laval reviews the project that may or may not be good for Abitibi-Témiscamingue.

That is also very problematic because people unfamiliar with the region cannot identify the organizations that might be a bit shady.

Opposition Motion—Canada Summer Jobs ProgramBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I was a bit surprised by the response I received from the member for Timmins—James Bay when I posed a legitimate question with respect to the debate today. It is important we make it clear.

The Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour has done a fantastic job in expanding the student summer jobs program and working with different stakeholders to bring forward an attestation, which is being fairly well received. I also understood that it was received relatively well by New Democrats. I can recall the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley initially criticizing the government on it, but within hours apologizing for his criticism.

The member's colleague, who sits two or three rows in front, just finished saying the Liberals were playing a dumb game, implying that it was a bad thing.

I am interested in knowing what the NDP's position is on what is required through the application process. Does that party have a problem with the attestation in particular?

Opposition Motion—Canada Summer Jobs ProgramBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

NDP

Christine Moore NDP Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, the problem I have with the attestation is how it was introduced, the lack of information about it, and the confusion it has caused. The lack of clear information created a panic. This was not the smartest way to introduce such a measure. It caused confusion within our organizations.

As for the minister's performance, a decision was made to double the budgets, but it came at the last minute. We appreciate the change, but did not have enough time to inform organizations that more money was available and that they should apply. Therefore, all projects have been accepted. Projects that received only seven points, in other words very weak projects that would not give someone much in the way of skills, have been accepted because we did not have time to advise the organizations doing good work that more money was available and that they could hire more than one employee if they applied again. Since the budgets were increased at the last minute, we did not have time to do our job and tell people that there were additional employment opportunities and they should submit more applications.

Opposition Motion—Canada Summer Jobs ProgramBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

NDP

Richard Cannings NDP South Okanagan—West Kootenay, BC

Mr. Speaker, my colleague's speech was a great description of what the Canada summer jobs program was and how MPs interacted with it.

All of us here work very hard every year, going through those lists to ensure that many young Canadians get good jobs in the summer. We really appreciate the program but we do have problems with it. Every job that my riding received last year had a maximum of nine or ten weeks, which excluded all university students. We had problems like that.

I was glad the member for Timmins—James Bay mentioned the good work that faith-based organizations do. We have a lot of those groups in my riding and I volunteer with a lot of them in the summer. I am so impressed.

Could the member expand on that aspect of this debate?

Opposition Motion—Canada Summer Jobs ProgramBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

NDP

Christine Moore NDP Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, indeed, there are many religious organizations or organizations with religious affiliations that offer very good jobs in service of the community. These communities are open to all candidates, even if they hold different beliefs.

We must focus on the work the youth are being asked to do. There are different organizations, but we must focus on what these people will be asked to do. If we have any doubt, in looking at the recommendations, it is our job as members of Parliament to clarify, before we sign anything, whether the work in question will violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. We have a duty to intervene and to say that it is inappropriate for the organization in question to receive funding.

Opposition Motion—Canada Summer Jobs ProgramBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Before I recognize the hon. member for Lethbridge in resuming debate, I will let her know there are only about five minutes remaining in the time for the business of supply this afternoon, but I will get her started just the same.

Resuming debate, the hon. member for Lethbridge.

Opposition Motion—Canada Summer Jobs ProgramBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, again and again, we watch as the government puts itself before the people of Canada, which is the exact opposite of why a federal government exists. It is the exact opposite of why any government exists.

Government is in place to serve the people of the country, and in this case, a very vast country, composed of people from different ethnic backgrounds and religious or faith backgrounds. People from different countries all over the world come to Canada and call it home. The government has decided it is going to create an attestation statement within the summer jobs grant application. That attestation statement is incredibly discriminatory in nature toward Canadians and the diversity that exists within our country.

Let me explain more.

The purpose of the grant is to hire students to take on jobs for the summer. In order to apply for the grant, organizations now have to sign off on a values statement the Liberals have dictated to them. There is no choice in the matter. Institutions, organizations, and businesses that apply for the grant do not get to say no, that they do not agree with it, but that this is how they are advocating for the rights within the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Instead, they have to sign off on the values the Liberals are imposing on them, which I is a direct attack on their charter rights of religious freedom, rights of conscience, freedom of belief, freedom of expression, and freedom of assembly. They are no longer granted these rights under the current government. Instead, they have to sign this statement that is ascribed by the Liberals, as if they are the values held by every Canadian. That simply is not the case.

Many organizations being brought under attack by the Canada summer jobs attestation are in fact faith-based organizations. However, there are others as well. Let me talk a little about these faith-based organizations.

Many organizations in my riding of Lethbridge, Alberta will be impacted. I have heard specifically from 15 that are being denied funding by the government, which equates to close to 100 jobs in my riding. Young people from the college and the university in Lethbridge will no longer be able to find those jobs this summer because of the government's ideals that are being propagated.

I will talk about a few of them.

One of them is SABC, a summer camp for kids. It brings in kids from indigenous communities and children from homes where they are perhaps underprivileged or just have a hard time making ends meet. They bring kids in from the foster care system. They also bring in kids from all sorts of homes all over Alberta. Those children get to go to camp and enjoy all sorts of activities and care. It is an amazing time of their lives. Without the Canada summer jobs grant, that opportunity has now been taken from SABC.

SABC is hearty and it will find other ways to make it happen, because the people are compassionate and passionate about serving Canadian children, specifically the children in my province. They will move forward, but with no help from the government.

Another organization in my riding offers services with regard to the housing insecure and homeless. This organization does tremendous work feeding, clothing, caring for the needs of those individuals. This organization will be rejected funding based on this attestation statement.

Another organization in my riding does incredible things to care for refugee families, particularly Syrian refugees. It has done phenomenal work. It would normally hire several students over the summer to continue that work. It will no longer be able to do that.

Another is The Mustard Seed in Calgary. Three hundred young people will be denied an opportunity for employment because of the attestation statement.

The government talks a lot about compassion, dignity, and preserving diversity, but that is a lot of talk and there is no action to back it up. At the end of the day, if we want to raise our young people to function within society with compassion and increase their civic engagement, then we have to be willing to facilitate that. One of the ways we do that is through the Canada summer jobs grants. What better way than putting their boots on the ground and helping the homeless or being able to work with children at a summer camp? These are acts of compassion. These are our Canadian values.

The government has tried to paint these organizations into a corner. It has tried to force them to sign off on a values statement, which these organizations simply cannot sign in good conscience. That is a breach of their charter rights.

Opposition Motion—Canada Summer Jobs ProgramBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

It being 5:15 p.m. it is my duty to interrupt the proceedings and put forthwith every question necessary to dispose of the business of supply.

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Opposition Motion—Canada Summer Jobs ProgramBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Opposition Motion—Canada Summer Jobs ProgramBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Opposition Motion—Canada Summer Jobs ProgramBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Opposition Motion—Canada Summer Jobs ProgramBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

All those opposed will please say nay.