“The attestation is not going to change,” Amarjeet Sohi, MP for Edmonton Mill Woods, told more than 80 people at a town hall on the Canada Summer Jobs issue held at Mill Woods Assembly.Chris Berthelot, Grandin Media

Outrage won’t sway Liberals on jobs attestation: Sohi

Applicants for summer job grants have to sign pro-abortion attestation, says Edmonton MP

Liberal MP Amarjeet Sohi faced hard questions and cries of outrage from frustrated constituents, but he defended his government’s controversial Canada Summer Jobs attestation.

Amarjeet Sohi, MP for Edmonton Mill Woods

“The attestation is not going to change,” Sohi, the MP for Edmonton Mill Woods, told more than 80 people at a town hall at Mill Woods Assembly church. “If that is the core mandate of your organization, to discriminate, to deny women the right to an abortion, then you will not qualify for funding.”

Leaders from the Catholic, Jewish and Muslim faiths across Canada – including Edmonton Archbishop Richard Smith and the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops – say the Trudeau government’s new requirement for Canada Summer Jobs funding is an attack on religious freedom.

Organizations are expected to attest that their “core mandate” supports Charter and reproductive rights, including the right to an abortion, as well as the government’s gender ideology.

Political and faith leaders say that amounts to an attack on their religious freedom.

“This attestation is unacceptable. In effect, it simply excludes any Catholic parish, organization or charity from funding for hiring a summer student,” Archbishop Smith wrote in a recent letter to Catholic parishes, charities and organizations.

Allen Verbeek

“In checking this box, they’re getting us to affirm that we will silence our right to our conscience, our religious beliefs,” said Allan Verbeek, a vice-president at The King’s University, a Christian institution in Edmonton. “They either don’t get that or choose to ignore that.”

Refusing to sign the attestation will mean that an application for funding will be denied. The Edmonton Archdiocese stands to lose between $10,000 to $20,000 earmarked for hiring staff at Catholic youth camps.

Others are in a similar position.

Ryan Waine

“We’re blessed to have camps and do camps and be able to continue this summer, but our future is in question,” said Ryan Waine, who is concerned Mill Woods Assembly youth camps are at risk.

Kieran Verghese, who also attends Mill Woods Assembly, says the government’s attestation requirement has had an unintended consequence.

“Now they put this in place, it’s at a point where now we feel as if we’re discriminated against.”

Ironically, even some who support the government’s social agenda say the attestation goes too far.

Neil Singh

“You shouldn’t force faiths to sign something they don’t believe in. It’s not good policy,” said Neil Singh, who is pro-choice and supports the government’s gender ideology. “In that way it becomes discriminatory.”

Sohi defended the attestation, noting faith groups are still eligible for funding—provided their activities don’t directly involve challenging Charter or reproductive rights. And Prime Minister Justin Trudeau himself reiterated his support for faith groups during a visit to Edmonton last month.

Garnett Genuis

Nevertheless, Conservative MP Garnett Genuis, a Catholic, told the town hall that the attestation needs to be reworded or removed entirely.

“This attestation and the rhetoric around it is deeply disparaging to faith communities and the good work that they are doing,” said Genuis, the MP for Sherwood Park-Fort Saskatchewan.

Genuis’ fellow Conservative MP, Karen Vecchio, has put a motion forward in the House of Commons to allow “non-activist, non-political” organizations to access Canada Summer Jobs funding without signing the attestation.

Asked how he would vote on March 19, Sohi avoided a direct answer, saying that it’s the government’s responsibility to defend people’s rights. Sohi serves in the Trudeau cabinet as minister of infrastructure and communities.

Aleena Zelman

Aleena Zelman, who attended the town hall, said she hopes Sohi will realize the gravity of the outrage.

“It raised a lot of important questions for Sohi, because I don’t think he quite understands the perspective we are coming from,” said Zelman, a Christian.

“He needs to learn more of why this is so upsetting to Christians or people who believe in this.”

Genuis said concerned Canadians should contact their local MP about the motion, saying that despite the current Liberal majority, the upcoming vote on the attestation may be a surprise.

“There really has been a groundswell around this issue, so people providing that additional contact will make a difference.”


8 thoughts on “Outrage won’t sway Liberals on jobs attestation: Sohi

  1. If the core value of the group applying for government money is discrimination toward certain types of people or if the core value is against reproductive rights for women…then they need to look at their core values and decide why they are anti choice and pro discrimination. Even if they think that is a “Christian” stance, it is the law of the land: reproductive rights and anti discrimination…not all Christians are discriminatory or anti choice..

  2. There is no way our government should add this “abortion on demand for funding for summer jobs. What gives the government the right to push their beliefs? I’m thankful that in 1969 my mother chose to keep me, as abortion was not an option. In today’s world I would not be here.

  3. I don’t understand why they would leave themselves open for OHRC tribunal cases which would result in the obvious loss of tax payers money to whomever wanted to challenge their exclusion based upon religious rights. It’s an open and shut case. So now alls one has to do is apply for the grant and when rejected take it to the OHRC tribunal. Just use your own paralegal instead of the court appointed one to ensure a fair representation. Does anyone else see this?

  4. The govt must remember that they are our employees and should respect
    Everyone’s rights not just a few. They are playing politics in order to get votes.
    We will vote for who respects our rights. No more dictatorship and secular views.They will be fired!!

  5. Albert Bandura’s theories speak to modelling behaviours. He conducted research on “Moral Disengagement”. The Liberal Government and its elected members are masters at this. However, we may be assuming that the “Honourable” members had morals from which they disengaged. It may sound extreme, but this government’s alleged “morality” appears to be of the quality seen in serial killers, terrorists and genocidal maniacs. Tragically, they appear to have little or nothing to draw on, even if they wanted to model moral behaviours.

    It cannot distinguish between good and evil. Therefore, black is white and white is black. If we look at history, every major dehumanizing act was (and still is) deemed to be “good”. If politicians sell their souls to Satan for the price of power, they may have nothing to support them at their Death, Judgement, Heaven, Hell. It is then that in a final despairing flash, they come face to face with eternal reality.

    1. Yes. And the attestation Is an example of government acting as if the have the power to create reality rather than serve authentic human nature, i.e., that a human being Is not killed during an abortion, and for women to be equal to men someone must die. The other problem Is the misogyny whereby the government promptes the idea that a man can be as good of a woman as a woman. Only an authentic humanism makes a defence of a woman’s true equality possible.

  6. I believe this is a form of dictatorship by the Liberial Government. Where is our freedom of speech? We all pay taxes from which funding is obtained. Why are there strings attached to these monies? A form of blackmail as I see it by the Liberal Government and PM Justin Trudeau.

  7. Another telling moment came when Minister Sohi, obviously frustrated, told the audience to stop telling him how to spend “the government’s” money. Based on the immediate, angry response of the audience, he realized his faux pas and tried to correct it by saying that he meant the taxpayers’ money but the cat was already out of the bag.

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