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42nd PARLIAMENT, 1st SESSION

EDITED HANSARD • NUMBER 269

CONTENTS

Thursday, March 1, 2018




House of Commons Debates

VOLUME 148 
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NUMBER 269 
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1st SESSION 
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42nd PARLIAMENT 

OFFICIAL REPORT (HANSARD)

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Speaker: The Honourable Geoff Regan

    The House met at 10 a.m.

Prayer



ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

[Routine Proceedings]

  (1005)  

[Translation]

Interparliamentary Delegations

    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1), I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, two reports of the delegation of the Canadian Branch of the Assemblée parlementaire de la Francophonie.
     The first is respecting its participation at the meeting of the Cooperation and Development Committee of the APF, held on Réunion Island, France, from March 2 to 4, 2017.
    The second is respecting its participation at the meeting of the APF parliamentary network on HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, held in Rabat, Morocco, on November 21 and 22, 2017.

[English]

Committees of the House

Liaison Committee 

    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 107(3), I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the seventh report of the Liaison Committee, entitled “Committee Activities and Expenditures: April 1, 2017--December 31, 2017”.

[Translation]

Procedure and House Affairs  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 54th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs. The Committee advises that, pursuant to Standing Order 91.1(2), the Subcommittee on Private Members’ Business met to consider the items added to the order of precedence on Monday, February 5, 2018, and recommended that the items listed herein, which it has determined should not be designated non-votable, be considered by the House.
    Pursuant to Standing Order 91.1(2), the report is deemed adopted.

[English]

Petitions

Canada Summer Jobs Program  

    Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to table a petition signed by many concerned constituents who are calling on the government to remove the discriminatory attestation requirement from the Canada summer jobs application.
    The attestation prevents youth across the country from gaining invaluable work experience because of beliefs that may be different from the political agenda of the government of the day.

Temporary Resident Visas  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present a petition signed by several hundred people that was initiated by a resident of my riding of Hochelaga. Her name is Natalia Lepleyskaya. I would like to thank her for her very hard work.
    Between November 4, 2015 and December 6, 2016, over one million temporary resident visa applications were denied by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. According to a World Economic Forum report, Canada ranks 120th out of 136 countries with respect to visa-granting policies.
    This petition is calling on the federal government to improve and simplify the temporary resident visa application process by making it transparent, simple, fast, and differentiated.

[Translation]

Bicycle Paths  

    Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise in the House to present a petition signed by nearly 2,000 people who are very concerned because they want to be able to ride their bicycles year-round. We talk about ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, promote active transportation, and encourage people to move to stay healthy, and yet bicycle paths on federal bridges are not cleared in the winter.
    These 2,000 people want all bicycle paths on federal bridges to be cleared year-round. I am pleased to table this petition on their behalf today.

[English]

Canada Summer Jobs Program  

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to table a petition from hundreds of residents in my riding of Battlefords—Lloydminster.
    The petitioners are calling upon the Prime Minister to withdraw the attestation requirement for applicants to the Canada summer jobs program, and to defend fundamental freedoms of conscience, thought, and belief. It is important to them that Canadian charter rights are protected.

  (1010)  

Human Rights  

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present two related petitions. Petition e-1264, signed by 531 Canadians, reminds the House that approximately 25% of Canada's population are non-believers, and calls upon the House to request that the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Canadian Heritage, together with the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights and the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, investigate systemic discrimination against non-believers in Canada's laws and regulations.
    Mr. Speaker, petition e-763, signed by 1,536 Canadians, calls upon the House of Commons to repeal the religious exemption regarding hate propaganda found in paragraph 319(3)(b) of the Criminal Code of Canada. This paragraph permits the incitement of hatred against identifiable groups if the incitement is an expression of “opinion based on a belief in a religious text”.

The Environment  

    Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise today to table a petition on behalf of coastal residents to call on the government to create a national strategy to combat ocean plastics and to create a fund for ongoing cleanups for marine debris and emergency cleanups for marine debris.
    The United Nations has said that plastic will soon outweigh fish, and that is what we are on course to do by 2050. The petitioners call on the government to regulate single-use plastics, stormwater outfalls, and microplastic pollution; create a national strategy to clean up derelict fishing gear; extend producer responsibility; and address the root problem to redesign the plastics economy, as well as education, outreach, and beach cleanups. Our oceans are precious. In coastal British Columbia, we rely on the ocean for our food security, economic security, and recreation.

Questions on the Order Paper

    Mr. Speaker, I would ask that all questions be allowed to stand at this time.
    Is that agreed?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

Privilege

Access to Briefing on Bill C-69  

[Privilege]
    Mr. Speaker, I am rising to add my thoughts on the question of privilege that was raised earlier this week by the hon. member for Abbotsford. I would like to thank him for his intervention on Monday as it does raise important questions about the work we do in this place on behalf of Canadians.
    This type of event, in various incarnations, has been the subject of numerous questions of privilege over the years during my time as a member of Parliament, and I know how hard it is for members to establish the burden of proof required by the Speaker to rule that there is a prima facie breach of our privileges here.
    I would argue that the prima facie, or first glance, impression that I have been given, based solely on the remarks of the member for Abbotsford, is that there is a case for you, Mr. Speaker, to rule that the minister or her staff have shown contempt for the House and its members.
    One point that I found particularly enlightening from the member's remarks is that the Chair does not actually have to find that members have been obstructed or impeded from doing their work. In fact, the Chair only has to believe at first glance that the incident in question is an offence against the dignity of members. The description of events from the member should be taken at face value. You, Mr. Speaker, and just about every Speaker before you, have cited the convention that MP statements should be treated as facts.
    The member went out of his way to ask the minister's office if he could attend a briefing on an important bill that is before the House. He was denied access for no other reason besides the fact that he is an MP. I submit that the dignity of the member and the House in which he holds membership was offended by that action. I am offended on his behalf as well, and I trust that you, the duly elected guardian of our collective dignity, will be offended too.
    Finally, I have to say that I am really saddened by the fact that the minister will not simply apologize for the event in question. The approach of her department in this case is obviously problematic. Perhaps if she reconsiders and issues a sincere apology, even at a later date, on behalf of herself and her department, the member for Abbotsford will consider the matter closed, but if she does not, Mr. Speaker, I think that you will have no choice but to rule favourably on the member for Abbotsford's claim that an offence occurred against the dignity of the House and its members.

  (1015)  

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to respond to the question of privilege raised by the hon. member for Abbotsford on February 26, 2018, with respect to the briefings that were provided for Bill C-69. I contend that in fact no breach of privilege has been committed.
    The crux of my hon. colleague's argument is that the minister “impeded every single member of this House”, and that someone “tried to withhold information from the House”.
    Mr. Speaker, I will refer to the decision given by your predecessor on March 3, 2014, regarding a technical briefing from the minister of state for democratic institutions. In that case, the Speaker ruled with relation to the technical briefing, where deficient interpretation was considered by a member as “preventing parliamentarians from participating fully in subsequent debate on the bill”. The member went on to note that the protection of the official languages in the House is fundamental to ensuring equality among all members.
    In his decision, the Speaker at the time referenced two rulings. The first, by Speaker Bosley on May 15, 1985, can be found at page 4769 of Debates, and states:
    I think it has been recognized many times in the House that a complaint about the actions or inactions of government Departments cannot constitute a question of parliamentary privilege.
    The second ruling, delivered February 7, 2013, which can be found on page 13869 of Debates, states:
    It is beyond the purview of the Chair to intervene in departmental matters or to get involved in government processes, no matter how frustrating they may appear to be to the member.
    I believe there are similarities with regard to departmental matters and these rulings are pertinent. I will also note that the bill was not debated in the House until the following Wednesday, after its introduction, which means the member for Abbotsford had plenty of time to prepare his intervention for second reading debate.
    While the member may feel that he was disadvantaged in some way, I do not agree with his assertion that the minister or her staff intentionally tried to impede his ability to carry out his duties. If the member feels that he needs additional briefings, I can assure him that they will be provided, as has been the practice of our government.
     The member for Abbotsford was right in acknowledging that his intervention “does not fall strictly within one of the specifically defined privileges or confines of a proceeding in the House of Commons”.
    This is not a legitimate question of privilege. It is a well-established convention that the Chair's role is confined to proceedings before the House and of Parliament. Although I appreciate my hon. colleague's devotion to the respect of parliamentary privilege, I will reiterate that the situation at hand does not constitute a prima facie question of privilege.

[Translation]

    I thank the hon. member for Berthier—Maskinongé and the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons for their interventions. I will look into the matter and come back to the House with a ruling in due course.

Government Orders

[Business of Supply]

[English]

Business of Supply

Opposition Motion—Canada Summer Jobs Program  

    That, in the opinion of the House, organizations that engage in non-political non-activist work, such as feeding the homeless, helping refugees, and giving kids an opportunity to go to camp, should be able to access Canada Summer Jobs funding regardless of their private convictions and regardless of whether or not they choose to sign the application attestation.
    She said: Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with our House opposition leader.
    I rise today to begin a debate on an opposition motion that calls out the Liberal government and the Prime Minister for their unconscionable attack on the sacred rights of Canadians to think for themselves, express their beliefs, and practise their faith without intervention or judgment from the government.
    Last year, Canadians learned of an ominous new development in the way Canada summer jobs grants would be allocated. This is a very important program for all our constituents, regardless of region or our parties. These funds go to community organizations to allow them to hire summer students. This is critical. These organizations offer important services to their communities. They help refugees and newly settled immigrants to Canada. They provide summer camps for kids. They offer to help the disabled and the most vulnerable in our society.
    For years, they have done this without intervention from any government, until December of 2017. That was when Canadians learned of this new attestation now required for applicants to this program. The attestation requires applicants to endorse the political and ideological views of the Liberal Party and of the Prime Minister personally. This is totally unacceptable in our free and democratic society. As Canadians, we enjoy and cherish our fundamental freedoms such as freedom of speech and freedom of conscience.
    The government plays a vital role in protecting these and other rights and freedoms that we enjoy as Canadians. Every government in Canada chooses its own priorities, which are meant to help Canadians realize their full potential. What every Canadian government should have in common is the understanding that they should respect these fundamental charter rights and put these rights ahead of political point scoring.
    That is why the Prime Minister's decision to require all groups seeking support from the Canada summer jobs program to sign an attestation declaring support for the ideological views of the Liberal Party is simply appalling. It is why Conservatives are clearly and forcefully expressing our opposition to this Liberal values test being imposed on Canadians.
    Canadians expect their government to respect the diversity of opinion and belief that exists in our country. However, while the Prime Minister talks a lot about respecting that diversity, his actions tell a very different story. He chose not to listen to the many community organizations that make good use of this program and that will now be unable to provide their services this year.
    Among those who will have to cut back are organizations that provide aid to refugees, run daycare programs for kids with disabilities, and offer help to at-risk youth. This is yet another example of how the government is attacking the very people it claims to help. Conservatives believe Canadians know better than the government about what is good for them. We listened and consulted with community organizations across the country, because we believe Canadians have a right to hold their own beliefs, and express themselves without fear of judgment from the federal government. No one has the right to prevent others from advocating or expressing their most deeply held personal beliefs.
    The responses we received have been swift and clear. From church groups in the Maritimes and Muslim organizations in Toronto to services for the homeless in Alberta and summer camps in Vancouver Island, we have heard repeatedly how this policy will hurt local institutions and those seeking their help. Many have already been forced to make a tough decision and refuse to apply for the Canada summer jobs program this year. With the deadline passed, other groups now worry that more government programs will be subject to this values test.
    Here are some of these groups' reactions to this terrible policy. For example, The Mustard Seed in Calgary offers social services for the homeless. Its CEO, Stephen Wile, said that because of this attestation, up to 300 youth in Calgary will not get to experience what it is like to work with the homeless and foster a compassionate heart.
    Lindsey Villages in Ajax provides skills training to children with autism and serves as a home to those whose parents cannot afford to care for them. Dr. Rondo Thomas, their president, said that the direction this government is going is very concerning and that he is now having to consider shutting down Lindsey Villages, a home that cares for autistic children and provides them with skills training.

  (1020)  

    Kerber Applied Research Inc. is a Hamilton biotech company that is developing innovative cancer treatment technology. Its president, Tom Kerber, said that budgets are tight and the help from Canada summer jobs is critical to his company's efforts to find life-saving innovative cancer treatments. However, he refused to enable any sort of government-imposed values test, as this is not a precedent he wanted to allow.
    There are so many groups that have spoken out, and the Conservatives will be sharing their stories this morning.
    The Prime Minister has made the wrong decision and the grassroots organizations that have been hurt by it need to make their voices heard. Organizations applying for public programs should not be denied access to them solely because the Prime Minister does not share their values and beliefs. It makes one wonder if the Prime Minister will apply his values test to Canadians receiving other services, including organizations that receive charitable status from the Canada Revenue Agency. This prospect represents a fundamental attack on the charter rights of Canadians. It has no place in a tolerant, diverse, multicultural society.
    The Prime Minister should not get his ideological veto over grants for summer jobs. The defence of these rights is what has made Canada a free, open, and tolerant country, a home for people seeking freedom from around the world. We should never compromise these freedoms. However, today too many on the government side are ready to take away these freedoms to score political points. The victims of these organizations are trying to do good in our communities, and the students are looking for work over the summer. This just is not fair.
     I implore my government colleagues to support this motion and make their voices heard on behalf of all local organizations in their constituencies that will lose out because of this unfair, un-Canadian policy. It is time for all of us to speak up for the most cherished freedoms.

  (1025)  

    Madam Speaker, I know this issue raises a lot of concerns. It becomes an issue of passion. It becomes an issue of faith. However, there is a lot of misinformation that has been put out there by the opposition. They call it the “ideological views” of the Liberal Party of Canada. What this gets behind is the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. What we are behind is a constitutionally protected right for a woman to access safe abortion services if she chooses.
    I was wondering if the hon. member could speak to the part of the charter that requires a government to fund an organization that seeks to undermine someone else's charter rights.
    Madam Speaker, I will remind my colleague to go back to the motion that we presented today. It talks about non-political, non-activist groups. I am talking today about the organizations in our communities that are impacted.
    I want to bring up a topic with respect to the area in London where I am. The archbishop there in charge of the diocese has spoken to me, and our Liberal MPs have not even taken the time to reach out and contact him after they have made such a huge decision in our area to not apply for Canada summer jobs.
    In my own riding of Elgin—Middlesex—London, there are housing organizations that are not going to be able to receive this funding. It is not because they are advocating against the beliefs this member is speaking of. It is because of their internal religious beliefs that they cannot sign something. I too would not be able to sign this attestation, and many of the businesses we have heard from have said the government has no business knowing what their beliefs are when it comes to Canada summer jobs. If we look at the Charter of Rights, we have the right to religious beliefs, we have the right to freedom, and there are different ways of doing that.
    Our point today is that this is not what our motion is about. Therefore, I would ask the member to not try to dictate around it.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for her speech. I also had an opportunity to discuss this with representatives from the diocese in my riding. Listening to my colleague, I was thinking about the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which has been protecting all Canadians for 35 years. We all embraced it 35 years ago.
    Does my colleague not think that the reason we are discussing this motion here today is that the wording of the attestation requirement for the Canada summer jobs application was vague? The government should have been much clearer, because many organizations felt excluded.

  (1030)  

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I would really like to thank my colleague, because that is exactly what we have been saying, right from the beginning.
    When this attestation came out, it came to the attention of our Conservative caucus, not from within our caucus but from the people who were reading these applications, who said they did not understand. It took a long time, not just a day or two, for the Minister of Labour to respond, and at that time, the Liberals did not change the wording of the attestation. It is fine to have a dialogue in one page, but that was not what the person was signing. They were signing an attestation that had the exact same wording as what these many concerned citizens were concerned about in the first place. The issue was not, “We've come up with some understanding language, and here's a description of what we mean”. They are signing a document that people find is binding, and true to their beliefs, they will not sign it.
    Madam Speaker, the supplemental information that defines what the attestation says makes it very clear. This has nothing to do with beliefs. This is not about beliefs. This is solely about activities. The attestation makes that clear, and there are examples in the attestation that set that out.
    Has she not read the supplemental information that makes that attestation very clear?
    Madam Speaker, the bottom line is, we are not signing the supplementary; we're signing the attestation. If we were signing the supplementary that would be one thing.
    You can laugh all you want, but I have organizations in my community that are not going to be providing daycare, that are not going to be out there giving out the food we need, and for people to sit there and bicker that this is not happening, I call BS on that. This is happening in our communities, and you guys better open your eyes. We are talking about—
    Order. I just want to remind the member that I was not laughing at it, so she is to make sure her comments come directly to the Chair and not to the individual members or the government.
    Could we have a very brief finish on that please?
    Madam Speaker, the bottom line is that the Liberals have come out with this additional information, but people are signing an attestation. For many people, that is like signing an agreement where they say this is not what they believe in. You are asking people to sign something they do not agree with.
    Again, I want to remind the member that she might want to choose her words differently, because she just indicated that I would want them to sign.
    Resuming debate, the official opposition House leader.
    Madam Speaker, I am very happy to rise today and speak on behalf the good people from the riding of Portage—Lisgar. They are people who have done so much to help young people get jobs, and done so much for people who are in poverty, people with mental illnesses, people who have been using the Canada summer jobs program in order to do these things. As I said, I am rising to speak on their behalf today and am happy to do it.
    It was not very long ago in this House that the Prime Minister rose and issued a formal apology to the LGBTQ community for what happened during the 1950s to the 1990s when the government of the day decided that the government would be telling a certain group of Canadians what they could think, what they could feel, how they could live. If what they did did not line up with what the government of the day wanted or what might even have been politically correct in that day, those individuals were cut off from being part of the government process. They were cut off from their jobs. They were cut off from taxpayers' dollars that would have been paying them to do those jobs. They were cut off from serving their community. Why? This was done because of the way they lived their lives, because of their beliefs. We saw the Prime Minister rise in this House and do the right thing and apologize to that group of people, the LGBTQ community.
    We are seeing a government today, in 2018, do exactly the same thing to a group of Canadians. In December 2017, just a week or so before Christmas, the Liberal government announced that anybody who wanted to apply and possibly receive funding for the Canada summer jobs program would have to sign onto the government's attestation on a certain number of beliefs, and if they did not do that, they would be denied funding. That was several months ago. As soon as we saw it, and as soon as these groups saw this attestation, they were extremely concerned that their rights would be infringed on. Today, literally as we speak, we are seeing this come to fruition where amazing, excellent, and great organizations across the country are being denied funding because they have not checked off the values test box of the Prime Minister and the Liberal government.
    I want to talk for a minute about the Canada summer jobs program. This is a program that has been non-partisan. In fact, in 2016, over 75,000 students across Canada benefited from the work experience. This has been a wonderful program where we as members of Parliament actually have been able to look at who was getting these summer job grants. We would congratulate them and many times help them work with their application. These are groups who are not doing political work. They are advocating for people, advocating for communities, and they are employing our young people to do so. This was the exact program that the Liberals and the Liberal thought police decided they were going to attack with this attestation.
    Let me read what the Charter of Rights and Freedoms actually says:
    1. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.
     Then it mentions the fundamental freedoms:
    2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:
(a) freedom of conscience and religion;
(b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;
(c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and
(d) freedom of association.
    For these organizations and the individuals who work for them, these are their charter rights.
    We saw again a few short months ago when Omar Khadr, a convicted terrorist, somebody who fought and worked to kill our soldiers and our allied soldiers, was awarded $10.5 million by the government and the Prime Minister. Canadians were outraged. By the way, let us not forget that his lawyer has just been appointed as a federal judge by the Liberals.

  (1035)  

    What was the Prime Minister's defence of this $10.5 million payout to this convicted terrorist? He said, “The Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects all Canadians, every one of us, even when it is uncomfortable.” I would add, ten-and-a-half million dollars uncomfortable. These are the Prime Minister's words, “This is not about the details or merits of the Khadr case. When the government violates any Canadian's charter rights, we all end up paying for it.”
    The Prime Minister has no problem violating the rights of tens of thousands, if not millions, of Canadians across the country who do not agree with him. He has no problem violating their rights by taking away their ability to apply and to receive Canada summer jobs funding. By the way, it is not his money; it is taxpayers' dollars. Let us remember that. He has his family fortune and he seems to love using taxpayers' dollars for all of his holidays, his nannies, and all of the stuff he wastes money on. This summer jobs program money is not his money. It belongs to the people, but he has no problem violating their rights.
    The Prime Minister even went on to say, “The anger that some people feel, and that a lot of people feel about the payment the government made to Omar Khadr is real and quite frankly—this might surprise you—but I share that anger and frustration. That settlement had nothing to do with what Omar Khadr might have or might not have done. It had to do with what the Canadian government did or did not do and when a Canadian government wilfully turns its back on defending a Canadian's rights and allows a Canadian to be tortured and mistreated, we all end up paying.”
    We paid Omar Khadr $10.5 million because apparently his rights were violated. We have apologized, and rightly so, to a group of people who in the 1960s to 1990s had their rights violated, and at the same time the Liberal government is violating the rights of Canadians who will not sign this attestation.
    I want to mention some real stories with some real names of people whose rights are being violated right now.
     David Acco is an indigenous business leader in Quebec. His company provides technology integration and human resources counselling. This is what he had to say about the Liberals' values attestation requirement, “As an Indigenous person, what I care about is indigenous youth getting into STEM, science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and into management positions, but the message I’m getting on the summer jobs program is what matters to them are my religious beliefs. It’s reminiscent of the days when the churches told us what to do to civilize our brains.”
    This individual wants to hire a student and make sure that young people are exposed to the STEM fields in industry and he is being told he cannot apply because what he believes privately might disagree with what the Prime Minister thinks.
     Dr. Efrem Leakemariam, the pastor from the Ethopian Evangelical Church in Toronto had this to say about the Canada summer jobs attestation requirement, “I remember why I came to Canada 29 years ago. I came because we had a Communist discriminatory government in our country. As a young man at age 17, I was discriminated for my beliefs. I was tortured. That's why I escaped and I came here to a land of freedom, the land of respect, and I am very proud to be Canadian today. But the reason that we are here is because of this summer jobs for young people. I believe summer jobs should be based on skills and talents, not based on someone's views, whether religious or ideological views. We oppose that kind of ideology.”
    I am so fortunate. I have never been tortured for my beliefs. I have always lived in Canada, where I cannot impose my beliefs on somebody else. I cannot stop somebody else from having their rights but I am allowed to have my beliefs. Canadians are allowed to have their individual beliefs.
    Conservatives will always stand up for the beliefs of Canadians and their rights. Let us not have to be apologizing for something else in 50 years. In 50 years, let us not have the government have to stand up and apologize for trampling all over the rights of those Canadians who applied for the summer jobs program in 2018. Let us change this. Let us do the right thing.

  (1040)  

    Madam Speaker, I listened to the opposition House leader's speech, and there is something we completely disagree on. This is not about beliefs. This is about activities.
    Again, I refer to the supplementary information, which is on the government website, which clarifies what the attestation says. I am going to read portions of it:
    Core mandate: This is the primary activities undertaken by the organization that reflect the organization’s ongoing services provided to the community. It is not the beliefs of the organization, and it is not the values of the organization.
    In example 2, it refers to a faith-based organization with anti-abortion beliefs that applies for funding to hire students to serve meals to the homeless. Does it qualify? Yes, it does.
    I would ask the opposition House leader to acknowledge that this is about activities. It is clear on the website. The attestation can be signed, referencing the supplementary information. Does she not recognize that this is about activities and it is not about beliefs?
    Madam Speaker, that is absolute hogwash. I would like to use a stronger term, but I will not.
    I can just hear the government back in 1950 telling the LGBTQ community that it is not about this or that. The government had to apologize because it infringed on Canadians' rights.
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    Order, order. I just want to remind members that they had an opportunity to ask questions. They were afforded respect, and I expect them to also afford that respect to the person who has the floor.
    Madam Speaker, the Mustard Seed in Calgary Centre provides social services for the homeless. This is what Stephen Wile, the CEO, said that because of this attestation, up to 300 youth in Calgary will not get to experience what it is like to work with the homeless and foster a compassionate heart.
    Either the attestation is meaningless, and if it is, then the government should just remove it, or it is a values test. If the government is worried that the Mustard Seed is going to be doing some terrible advocacy work for some group that does not fit in with the Liberal thought police, it could just say that the Mustard Seed is doing advocacy work. It is pretty clear the work that it does.
     Lindsey Villages in Ajax—

  (1045)  

    Sorry, but we have to allow for more questions. Maybe the member could put that into her response.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I think we can all agree that the Liberals' criteria were confusing from the outset. It was so confusing that we received many phone calls and emails in our ridings from religious groups and others asking what was going on. We had to clarify and explain the situation. It raised some controversy.
    I would like to know whether my colleague agrees that we should act in accordance with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and comply with it. The question of women's rights is not up for debate. The Supreme Court has ruled that restricting access to abortion is unconstitutional. I would like to know whether my colleague agrees that we must uphold the charter, women's rights, and the Supreme Court ruling.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, this is about organizations that are doing great work for Canadians across the country. It is about their beliefs being questioned.
    Even if I might actually disagree with them, this actually is not about what I personally believe. This is about the personal beliefs of organizations across the country that have a right to their beliefs. They have a right to do great work for people who have nothing to do with some of these very divisive and contentious issues.
    In Canada, we get to disagree. I am going to give an example. I come from an area where there is a very strong Mennonite community. Consumption of alcohol is frowned upon. In some places, it is actually taught that it is wrong and people should not drink. That group has a right to believe that. They do not have a right to stop somebody else from consuming alcohol, because alcohol consumption is legal in Canada.
     I use that as an example of what we are talking about. It is not about the specific issue. It is about the freedom of individuals and groups to disagree with the government, and still be able to do good work on other issues and employ young people. That is what this is about.
    Madam Speaker, as parliamentary secretary, I am very pleased to stand today and join in this debate.
    I want to recognize my colleague from Hamilton West—Ancaster—Dundas for, even in her question, providing that clarification had been circulated. The NDP has identified that as well. The clarifications were provided quite some time ago to all members of Parliament and community groups.
    My friend and colleague from Elgin—Middlesex—London, a member whom I like a great deal, referred to the attestation as “BS”. If the “BS” stands for a “brave stand”, then I agree with her. This is all about a government that is standing up for the rights of Canadians, rights that were fought for by women, immigrants, and the LGBTQ2 community. These rights have long been fought for, and there is an expectation of the government of the day to stand by those citizens and defend those rights, which is exactly what we are doing through this initiative. Therefore, I am very happy to stand and speak to the motion today.
    It is not news to any Canadian that prosperity depends more and more on a solid start for the next generation of workers. It also depends on the work experience they can gain to succeed in their careers to continue to boost our national economy and help our middle class prosper.
     A summer job is an important opportunity for young people to get that kind of valuable work experience for which employers are looking. We hear time and time again that, “Yes, we'd like to give you the opportunity, but you have no experience”. Well, it is tough to get that experience if young people are not presented with that opportunity. This type of job also enables students to earn some money to help offset the cost of the school year ahead.
    This is why our government is taking action right away. As a result of our government's increased investments in 2017, the number of jobs offered to young Canadians through the Canada summer jobs program nearly doubled compared to 2015 with the outgoing Conservative government.
    The Canada summer jobs program is about creating quality work experience for young Canadians right across the country. When we learned that funding through the Canada summer jobs program had been used to undermine the rights of some Canadians, we took the necessary steps to ensure those rights were respected.
    In the past, funding was used to support organizations like the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform, which put kids to work distributing graphic images of aborted fetuses, and other organizations that did not welcome youth from the LGBTQ2 community in their summer camps. We know the Conservative Party has a different opinion on some of these issues.
    On April 26, 2017, weeks before the Conservative leadership vote, Jonathon Van Maren, the communications director for the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform, wrote in a blog post endorsing the current leader of the opposition as one of the top three choices in the leadership race. He reached out to the leader and gave him a statement in which he affirmed that the leader of the opposition had always voted in favour of anti-choice legislation.
    The leader of the opposition is against our $650 million investment in maternal health so women around the world can have safe access to the abortion health services they require. The leader of the opposition affirmed that he voted against transgender rights in Bill C-16. He believes that Jordan Peterson is correct on his views of gender pronouns. We know the leader is against LGBTQ2 rights. He is against women's right to choose and against transgender rights, as his own words have confirmed.
    The Government of Canada is committed to respecting the fundamental rights of all Canadians, including the LGBTQ2 and women's rights. We also support the freedom of conscience and religion guaranteed under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. There is nothing controversial about that.

  (1050)  

     We have taken concrete steps to prevent federal funding from going to create jobs that do not respect the rights of all Canadians.
    As a result, the Canadian summer jobs 2018 application form asks organizations to confirm that both their core mandate and the jobs in question respect individual human rights and labour laws and do not support discriminatory practices. It is a question of justice and equality for everyone, not a question of beliefs. It is another example of the traditional Canadian approach of diversity and inclusion.
    The opposition keeps talking about critics, but let me take a different view.
     We want to talk about the many supporters of the attestation. Major Canadian organizations are supporting our approach. In fact, our government received an open letter from the National Association of Women and the Law saying how supportive it was of this year's eligibility requirements for CSJ applicants. A number of my colleagues in the House today know that the women in law group testified yesterday at committee on Bill C-65. They know that it is a highly regarded organization nationally, if not universally.
     The association wrote, in black and white:
    Significant misinformation has been widely circulated in the media about the nature of the attestation that is now required by organizations that wish to apply for federal government grants for student jobs through the CSJ program. We are confident that the safeguards introduced to the CSJ program are not discriminatory, and do not represent any infringement on freedom of religion, conscience, or any other rights that people in Canada enjoy.
    This comes from an organization that promotes the equality rights of women in our country. This organization has played a major role in major milestones toward women's equality in Canada, such as the inclusions of sections 15 and 28 in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms; amendments to sexual assault laws, positive changes to family law and to the divorce act; rape shield legislation; and criminal harassment legislation.
    There is more.
    An open letter of support was signed by 80 major organizations from across Canada. Let me name a few. There is Oxfam Canada, YMCA Canada, The Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity, Women's Human Rights Education Institute, Abortion Support Services Atlantic, Alberta Pro-Choice Coalition, the Network of Black Business & Professional Women, Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women, Canadian Health Coalition. The list of supporting organizations goes on and on. Strong voices across the country are raising in support of this year's eligibility requirements for CSJ applicants. Who is in a better position than these organizations to speak out on the issue that concerns us today?
     This display of support is just one example. There are many more supporters of the attestation that is required by CSJ applicants.
    However, people may ask what the Canada summer jobs program consists of. It is a federal program that aims to provide salary subsidies to employers so they can create jobs for high school and post-secondary students. It provides financial aid to the not-for-profit organizations, public sector employers, and small businesses with up to 50 employees. This funding enables the creation of summer job opportunities for youth between the ages of 15 and 30, who are studying full time and are planning to go back to school for the following year. As was the case in years past, religious and faith-based organizations are eligible for funding through the program and are invited to apply.

  (1055)  

    To better meet the changing needs of the new increasingly globalized economy, our youth employment strategy helps young Canadians receive valuable work experience and skills development in support of their future career. It includes three program streams.
     First, the skills stream helps youth facing barriers to employment develop the skills they need to find a job or go back to school. The focus is on single parents and newcomers, as well as youth with disabilities, indigenous youth, and youth in rural and remote areas.
    The second stream, career focus, helps post-secondary graduates find a job through paid internships. It provides these youth with the information and experience they need to make an informed decision about their career, find a job, or pursue graduate studies.
    Finally, the summer work experience stream offers subsidies to employers for them to create summer jobs for high school and post-secondary students and includes the Canada summer jobs program. Each year we invest over $330 million in this strategy and we have committed to investing an additional $340 million over three years to create up to 35,000 additional summer jobs for youth.
    In fact, I would be remiss if I did not mention that in budget 2018, our government proposes to provide an additional $450 million over five years, starting in 2018-19, for the youth employment strategy. This funding will support the continued growth of the number of job placements funded under Canada summer jobs in 2019-20. It will also provide additional resources for a modernized youth employment strategy in the following years, building on the input of the expert panel on youth employment. As well, a renewed youth employment strategy will be announced over the course of the next year.
    All this to say, we are doing this for Canadian youth.
     Let us go back to the issue today.
     Under Canada summer jobs, employers are invited to submit an application that meets the program's national priorities, which were established to better meet the current and future needs of the labour market and improve the situation of youth in the labour market. This means that we prioritize jobs created by employers that intend to hire youth from under-represented groups, including new immigrants or refugees, indigenous people, people with disabilities, and visible minorities.
    The program will also favour small job creating businesses, organizations that support employment opportunities for official language minority communities, and organizations that offer services or support to the LGBTQ2 community.
     Canada summer jobs will also place a particular focus on organizations that support job opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematic sectors, as well as the information and communications technology sectors, particular for women.
    For this reason, the CSJ program will not provide funding to organizations whose main activities include partisan political activities or seek to remove or undermine established individual rights for Canadians. To clarify, our government has taken the principled stand that we will not fund groups that distribute graphic pictures of bloody fetuses to school-age children. Any organization whose activities aim to limit women's existing reproductive rights will not be eligible for this funding. The same goes for a summer camp that would submit an application to hire students as camp councillors at a camp that would not welcome youth from the LGBTQ2 community.
    On the other hand, many other faith-based organizations would be eligible for the program. Say, for example, a faith-based organization with anti-abortion beliefs applies for funding to hire students to serve meals to the homeless. The organization provides numerous programs in support of its community. The students would be responsible for meal planning, buying groceries, serving meals, etc. This organization would be eligible to apply.
     Say another faith-based organization that embraces the traditional definition of marriage but whose primary activities reduce social isolation among seniors applies for funding to hire students. The students would be responsible for developing and delivering programs for all seniors, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or expression. This organization would be eligible to apply.

  (1100)  

    Another example would be an organization with anti-abortion beliefs that runs a summer camp for underprivileged youth. It would be eligible to submit an application. This would enable it to offer students summer jobs as camp counsellors.
    Applicants have to confirm that they meet the new requirement through an attestation included in the application form. They are not required to share their points of view, their beliefs, or their values, because these are not taken into consideration in the program application process. That an organization is affiliated with a religion does not make it ineligible. Service Canada evaluates the applications based on the eligibility and assessment criteria, including national and local priorities. All the eligible applications in a constituency are ranked accordingly.
    Each year, members of Parliament are invited to take part in certain activities related to the Canada summer jobs program. This means that elected officials can help promote the program, establish local priorities, confirm the list of projects, inform the selected employers, and take part in announcements related to those programs. Members of Parliament are invited to take part in these aspects of the CSJ program, but their participation is, of course, voluntary.
    In cases where members of Parliament do not take part in the process, Service Canada establishes the list of projects for their constituencies. Summer job priorities will not be the same in Nunavut as they are in Toronto or Calgary or Vancouver or Cape Breton—Canso. They will not be the same in Prince Edward Island as they are in Saskatchewan.
     The Canada summer jobs program is not a government program just like any other. It meets the needs of a young, dynamic workforce while at the same time meeting the current needs of each region across this country during the summer period. Above all, it meets young people's need to get rewarding summer work that will help them gain much-needed experience to start their professional lives.
    Our government is committed to ensuring that government funding respects Canadians' hard-won rights, particularly those of women and the LGBTQ2 community. We have taken the principled stand that we will not fund groups that distribute graphic pictures of bloody fetuses to school-age children or any groups whose jobs will limit the protections Canadians depend on.
    We know that religious- and faith-based organizations, which are primarily focused on compassion and helping those in our society who are most in need, offer valuable services to our communities. The changes we have made to the CSJ program will ensure that youth who get jobs funded by the government will be working in an environment that respects the rights of all Canadians.

  (1105)  

    Madam Speaker, the member expressed himself very clearly.
    This individual is a pastor of a church that received Canada summer jobs funding in the past. It does amazing camp work. These individuals also serve in our community, which needs additional help through the summer with so many events. He said, “We have received a notification that our application must be resubmitted because 'the attestation cannot be altered or modified. The 'I attest' box must be checked and the application signed.' However, as explained to you in our application, the requirement of the government to force us to make the attestation is very discriminatory. In fact, we believe it to be a violation of our constitutional rights.
     “Compelled speech violates the long-held democratic rights that have existed in Canada before the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and have been reiterated in the charter and are recognized in the Canadian Human Rights Act. Our religious beliefs and obligations, our conscience, our beliefs, thoughts, and opinions all preclude us from making the attestation as set out in the application and guide, including the supplementary information. Where [a member across the floor] indicated that they could just reference it, you're not allowed to reference anything. You must only sign the box. That is the reason we include a note regarding the attestation in our original application.”
    The member opposite said that there are all kinds of organizations that qualify for this that have certain perspectives but are not using those perspectives. They cannot sign the attestation. Can the member not admit that those organizations do not qualify under this Canada summer jobs program?
    Madam Speaker, I appreciate the member sharing the correspondence she received from a constituent. However, I am sure she would have taken the time to contact that constituent, as many of us have done, to clarify. We have made those individual phone calls to clarify that the core mandate is specifically about the program being offered by that host community, as is clearly identified in the clarification. I have a number of faith-based communities that have all reapplied. They received those types of grants in the past and have delivered tremendous programs to our community. Once the clarification was made, they were very comfortable with it.
    It is part of our responsibility as elected officials, as members of Parliament, to serve our constituents. I think the clarification would certainly have gone a long way in easing the concerns of that applicant. However, in no way should that have an impact if the—
    I have to allow for other questions.
     Questions and comments, the hon. member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot.

  (1110)  

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, of course we will be voting against this motion because the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is a foundational statute that has defined us for more than 35 years now.
    As my colleague explained so well in his speech and in his responses, the problem is that this criterion was confusing from the start. Some organizations felt that they were being excluded when they were not. The hon. member said it clearly in his speech: ever since establishing this criterion and requiring this attestation, the government has been spending its time clarifying and explaining to groups that they are not being excluded. That is the problem.
    Does my colleague think that maybe that is why we are here today debating this motion, because the criterion was confusing from the start?

[English]

    Madam Speaker, had it been December when we were having this debate, I might have agreed with the member that the wording on the particular issue was murky. That is why a clarification was issued. It has been well received. If the subscription rate under this program is any indication, we are above the number of applications we had last year for this program.
    The member does not have to take my word for it. If she did not have an opportunity to listen to my speech, I will read this into the record once again for her benefit. It is from the National Association of Women and the Law, which states:
    Significant misinformation has been widely circulated in the media about the nature of the attestation that is now required by organizations.... We are absolutely confident that the safeguards introduced to the CSJ program are not discriminatory, and do not represent any infringement on freedom of religion, conscience, or any other rights that people in Canada enjoy.
    Madam Speaker, I was elected in 2004. This will be the 14th year I have signed off on the Canada summer jobs program. This is the first time a new core values test is being presented to the community of Langley—Aldergrove, which I represent. My community is outraged. There are students who are not going to get summer jobs because the Liberals are asking my constituents to bow the knee to them. They must agree with their core values or they are going to be disqualified. It is disgraceful. It is unconstitutional. What is happening is terrible.
    I will provide an example. There is a woodworking shop that wants to help women who are recovering from addiction. It is not going to be able to provide these jobs and training to these young women students, because they will not bow the knee to the Liberal ideology. That is wrong.
    Madam Speaker, my colleague and I go way back. We have been in the House for quite some time. The benefit of that is that he would have the memory of when he sat on this side of the House and I sat pretty much in that same seat in opposition. The prime minister of the day, Stephen Harper, wanted to cut the Canada jobs program completely and cut 35,000 places. Mike Savage, the current mayor of Halifax, Maria Minna, and I fought like crazy to make sure that it did not happen. Monte Solberg sat right here, and the former prime minister went up and said, “Whatever you guys are doing with the Canada summer jobs, stop it”, so they returned to the program. The member sat on the bench when his government was going to shut the whole program down completely.
    Members should know this. This attestation is about protecting the rights of Canadians that have been hard fought for. Canadians expect their government to defend them, and that is what we are doing.
    Madam Speaker, I thank the parliamentary secretary for enlightening the House on what this program is and is not. I also thank the opposition for giving us a day to clarify human rights and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and how they fit into this discussion and to talk about the increases our government is making in this program to help youth in our communities get their first jobs.
    Could the parliamentary secretary comment on what this is and what this is not in terms of the choices Canadians now have and respect for other people's opinions in this discussion?

  (1115)  

    Madam Speaker, going back to the clarification, the program had been abused in the past, and they felt that it was imperative that this summer money, this support and grant money, not be used in any way that would attack the rights of Canadians who had long fought for those particular rights. This is a clarification to make sure that the groups accessing these very important funds providing very important opportunities for young Canadians have them go toward the types of activities Canadians have come to expect, not ones that are politically motivated or are trying to limit the rights of Canadians. That is why we support this particular attestation.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I will start by saying that I will be sharing my time with the member for Salaberry—Suroît. I rise today to speak against the Conservative motion. The NDP believes, as does the government, that it is unacceptable to provide public money to groups whose work focuses on undermining women's rights, access to abortion, or the rights of the LGBTQ community. The new attestation for the Canada summer jobs program requires groups to state that they respect the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which is a foundational document that has governed us for more than 35 years.
    For our party, the issue of women's rights is not up for debate. The Supreme Court has already ruled on the fact that restricting access to abortion is unconstitutional. However, the government must clarify its position for the various groups. The wording is so vague that organizations in my riding and all other ridings believe that they are excluded from the program when that is not the case. We are here today debating the wording because, from the very beginning, the government should simply have made it clear that the new attestation refers to activities that fail to comply with the charter and not to a group's beliefs or lack of a position. It is really quite simple. This is not about saying that a group is or is not doing good work, but rather ensuring that the nature of the jobs to be done by youth under the Canada summer jobs program does not contravene the charter and our laws.
    I want to be clear. We recognize that many organizations, including religious groups, are doing a lot of incredible work to support people in need, and even if they do not support abortion, the nature of their work does not violate the values of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This is why we believe that these groups and organizations should have the right to apply for the Canada summer jobs program. It is up to the government to clarify with these groups.
    Admittedly, the wording in the Canada summer jobs application is quite vague. The government must clarify the wording. It should have done so before launching the program and putting this in the criteria. I do, however, appreciate the work already being done to clarify the selection criteria to ensure that any jobs submitted do not violate the charter.
     The NDP believes that we must properly ensure, before groups even receiving funding, that the jobs being offered to young people under the Canada summer jobs program are not in sectors that contravene the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and our laws. This is non-negotiable for us. This is not a partisan measure or issue. This is not about forcing opinions or ideologies on these organizations. We are simply talking about upholding the rights and values of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
    Canada summer jobs is a very important initiative in my riding. Last summer, 60 organizations and SMEs in my riding were able to benefit from this funding, which supports non-profit organizations, public sector employers, and SMEs that create useful and instructive summer jobs for students. A total of 168 young people were able to gain valuable experience last summer in my riding of Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot under the Canada summer jobs program.
    I worked in community organizations for nearly 30 years before becoming an MP. I worked in a shelter for battered women and their children. I worked in a mental health crisis centre, and I worked for an organization that helps people with intellectual disabilities. I spent the majority of my career, over 10 years, as the director of a community organization for troubled youth, the Auberge du coeur Le Baluchon. I am very proud of that.

  (1120)  

    All of these organizations hired at least two students every summer, helping those students gain work experience as part of their studies. In our case, they were working for organizations that helped people in need, whether it was battered women, people in crisis, or young people with intellectual disabilities.
    I was hired one summer under what was known as the summer career placement program. I helped young people with intellectual disabilities with various activities. That was a wonderful summer. I always say that people with intellectual disabilities remind us of what is most important in life, and that is the people we love and who love us. That is all that is important for them. That was a great summer. I really learned a lot.
    The Auberge du coeur Le Baluchon hired students, especially female students, for service jobs in areas like psychoeducation and correctional intervention techniques. The Canada summer jobs program gave these students a chance to gain experience in a summer job, working under the supervision of other staff. It gave them an opportunity to acquire work experience that was relevant to their studies and to be paid for it. We know that many internships are unpaid. Our organization did not offer pay either, but under this program, the students are often paid. These students at least had a summer job where they could gain experience and spend time with troubled youth, which is something that I also found very instructive. Working in this environment is an experience for them too. I always tell my colleagues in the House that the more closed-off a youth is to what I am trying to say, the more hurt he or she must be. It is important to bear that in mind and try to pierce that armour. I always say that the toughest nuts to crack are the softest on the inside. It is important to offer these experiences.
    What is disappointing about the government's vague criteria is that they are casting a shadow over a very useful program that is highly valued in all of our ridings. It is unfortunate that we have to talk about this program today and reiterate that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is important and that the rights of women and LGBTQ communities are non-negotiable. It is a shame, because we will soon be receiving a list of organizations and student jobs in our respective ridings that we will have to approve. That is always interesting.
    I always ask organizations to send me a copy of their projects, because I like to see details and explanations on what the students will be doing. I am fascinated by all the work that is being done to help youth in my riding. There are a lot of recreational organizations, for example. That is important. Working as a day camp counsellor is a very enriching experience. I represent 25 municipalities, and interesting things are happening in each and every one of them.
    In short, this program gives young people a chance to gain valuable experience that will be useful in their future careers, and sometimes even leads to their first job. I am truly proud of this initiative. Year after year, it is a huge success. It is also vital to our region's economy, because last year, it brought nearly half a million dollars into my riding. It goes without saying, but it is also incredibly rewarding for young people. In a riding like mine, where labour is always needed, this program is more than welcome.
     This year, I will be inviting youth who have benefited from the Canada summer jobs program to join me for an evening meeting to discuss their experiences and motivations. This meeting promises to be absolutely fascinating, and all youth who have participated in the Canada summer jobs program are invited.
    Again, I want to say that the NDP agrees with the government that it is fundamentally unacceptable to use taxpayer dollars to fund groups whose work focuses on restricting women's rights and access to abortion.

  (1125)  

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I thank the member across the way for her speech and also for her advocacy on behalf of women in Canada and the choices that women have, which are their choices to make under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
    Would the member expand on that for the House?

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is a foundational text that we as Canadians chose over 35 years ago.
    The rights codified in the charter, such as women's rights, are non-negotiable. That is very clear, and the Supreme Court has been very clear on the subject as well. Why do we need to restate something so obvious today? Mainly because the government suddenly decided to introduce an attestation based on ill-defined criteria. I do not know exactly how this was done, but it was obviously not done well. We have had to help quite a few organizations understand what the attestation is and what it means. This whole situation could easily have been avoided, but unfortunately, here we are spending yet another day talking about how the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is actually a thing and women's rights are non-negotiable.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, the Ethiopian church in Don Valley East provides support for refugees that are fleeing persecution.
     Pastor Dr. Efrem Leakemariam said that people in his community, who left their country fleeing persecution, were shocked that now the Canadian government wants to discriminate against them. He also said he is deeply saddened that the refugees they will bring over will continue to be marginalized, and he is afraid for his kids and what their future will be if these sorts of values tests are continued.
    I wonder if the member could comment on why the government is choosing to intimidate refugees instead of showing them compassion.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I admire the church for the work it does to help refugees.
    The riding of Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot has welcomed refugees over the past two years, too. A number of organizations, such as the food bank and the diocesan centre, support refugees. I want to make it clear that I have talked to diocesan representatives about this and explained to them that if the nature of the job is to help refugees, as in the case of the church the member mentioned, they are eligible for a subsidy to hire students to help with that work. I think it is such a shame that pastor and his organization feel excluded because the government did not clearly communicate what the attestation is all about and did not make it clear from the get-go what it means to check the box and sign the document.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to be able to speak today.
    This attestation has affected people across every riding in Canada. In my riding, people who have not been able to sign the attestation have called me. Some people are working with addicted young people. I had a person at a vet clinic who said that they do not agree with this, that they do not agree they are being forced to sign this, and that they will not be able to participate in the program. We have heard from municipal governments that are saying they do not agree the federal government should be dictating what they should believe.
    The most interesting example of this was a call from someone who is part of an umbrella organization that helps three organizations fill out applications for the Canada summer jobs program. Last year they had 80 jobs across western Canada: the three prairie provinces, B.C., Yukon, and the Northwest Territories. They said they are unable to sign the attestation.
    These are summer jobs that went into boys and girls camps, rural camps, urban camps, and aboriginal communities where young people would spend time working in these communities for the summer. Those 80 jobs are completely lost. They said that this year they would get zero jobs.
    Could my colleague comment on how she sees that the Liberals are attacking Canadians' rights, when people say they cannot sign that attestation?

  (1130)  

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, of course I cannot speak for the government and say why it accepts or rejects any applications.
    What I can say, however, is that we, as Canadians, were all in agreement 35 years ago that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is a foundational document that we all embrace. I mentioned in my speech that I used to work with organizations that support young addicts, among others, as the member said. If the nature of the job involved working with these young addicts, the job used to be eligible. It is unfortunate that they have been excluded because of this utterly vague criterion.
    Madam Speaker, like my colleague from Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, I will be opposing this Conservative motion, because, by implication, it calls into question the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to some degree.
    As we have heard repeatedly in the House, we have been subject to the charter for 35 years, since 1982. There was a general consensus to welcome and respect the charter.
    The Liberals' management of the Canada summer jobs program has been quite confusing, which has caused many groups, especially religious groups, to feel excluded and think they could not submit a Canada summer jobs application. This has led to some unfortunate outcomes. For example, some groups will not get any funding from the program because they did not know for sure whether they were eligible to submit an application.
    In the wake of this controversy all our offices received many calls. I think that the Liberals are still getting calls because this is still so confusing. Religious groups, who say that their work helps the community and that young people join them in helping the least fortunate in the community, are asking whether they have the right to submit an application. We had to explain that the nature of their activities did not go against the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and that they could indeed submit their application.
    It bears repeating that the NDP finds it unacceptable to provide funding, taxpayer money, to groups whose work is based on fighting against women's rights, against access to abortion, and against defending the rights of the LBGTQ2 community.
    As we all have been saying for years, the question of women's rights is absolutely not up for debate. As I said earlier, even the Supreme Court has ruled that restricting the right to abortion is unconstitutional. Based on that, I think that clarifications were made and continue to be made.
    Any organization that wants to can apply to give young people a rewarding experience to earn money for school, in what may be their first job or simply some summer work. I think we can continue to offer these jobs and that the government should provide funding, so that young people can work and apply the skills they learned in school
    In my riding of Salaberry—Suroît, 151 jobs were funded for young people last summer. The wide range of jobs were very much appreciated. The jobs included working in museum archives, being day camp counsellors, and working in youth centres. Also receiving funding were jobs at recreational organizations, such as the Régates de Valleyfield, which is celebrating its 80th anniversary this year.
    There are so many interesting jobs for young people. However, I must say that the Liberals and the Conservatives are playing politics here. It is appalling that we have gotten to this point. The Liberals showed in their budget that they are using the Canada summer jobs program as a marketing tool. Unbelievable. For example, last year, after I told organizations that they were approved for jobs, I was told that I would have to reduce the number of weeks each young person could work so that more young people could have jobs.

  (1135)  

    I was told to give only six weeks of employment to some young people in order to have more jobs for more youth. That made no sense. A six-week summer job does not cover a lot of post-secondary expenses. What will young people do for the rest of the summer? What about the organizations that hire a young person for just six weeks? What will they do for the remaining eight weeks of the summer? They will have to close their doors or cut their services. That is not what they want. Young people need to work for 14 or 16 weeks or they will not have enough money to pay for their rent, food, and what they need for school. Once again, the Liberals are all talk, and they are going to say that they have an excellent record and that they created thousands of summer jobs. In reality, it is a blow to young people if they are unable find jobs that pay enough or last long enough to allow them to fully dedicate themselves to their studies the rest of the year.
    The budget talks about Canada summer jobs, but there was nothing about the rest of the youth employment strategy. I wish the Conservatives had mentioned that in their opposition motion today. Will cuts be made to the skills link program? One has to wonder. Will cuts be made to the career focus program? Is there any money for those programs in the budget? No money was announced for those programs in the budget on Tuesday. The Liberals favour the Canada summer jobs program because MPs are the ones who do the work of deciding who gets the jobs, so the Liberals do not have to do it. They do not have to do all the work of administering the program because members of the House are doing it.
    There is nothing in the budget about precarious employment. A report was tabled on that subject, but there is very little about it the budget the finance minister announced on Tuesday.
    We would also have preferred to talk about all of the budget's shortcomings. I will mention a few others. The Liberals talk about doubling the budget as though $400 million was never allocated in the past, but the Conservatives allocated that same amount for this program in 2010-11, when they were responsible for the budget.
    The budget does nothing to make the funding for the Canada summer jobs, career focus, or skills link programs permanent, even though they are used by thousands of Canadians. For example, an organization in my riding, Une affaire de famille, received a significant amount of funding, about $150,000, in 2017 to give young people facing barriers to employment access to services that would help them to return to the labour market. This program helped 31 young people. The organization wanted to continue with this project, but it recently received a letter from the government saying that it was unable to renew the project because of budgetary constraints.
    What will happen to young people in extremely disadvantaged regions, such as Salaberry—Suroît or the Upper St. Lawrence? These young people are struggling. They may have addictions, they may have dropped out of school, or they may have mental health problems. Organizations such as the one I mentioned are trying to help them to get jobs, give them valuable and relevant tools, build their self-confidence, and direct and guide them. However, now the government is taking all that money away from these organizations, leaving them with no alternative. It does not make any sense.
    Last year, in addition to failing to renew this program, the Liberals added Young Canada Works to the youth employment strategy, even though that program falls under the jurisdiction of another department, Canadian Heritage. This year, there has been no mention of the program, not even under official languages. However, many francophone organizations use the Young Canada Works program because it is the only one that has a language criterion and that enables young Acadians, Franco-Saskatchewanians, and Franco-Yukoners to more easily access jobs where they can work in their mother tongue.
    There is also the problem of Phoenix. We should also be talking about that since we know that over 200,000 public servants are affected. Generally speaking, people who work irregular schedules are having the most problems, for example, those doing paid internships, those on parental leave, and summer students. They are the ones who are suffering the most. They do not have access to the parliamentary network.

  (1140)  

    We should have been talking about these types of projects that affect whether young people can or cannot get good and lasting jobs that will help improve their lives. That was not addressed in the budget.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I know the member was here in the last Parliament, so she would see the impact of the additional funding in the program. Since we came to government, we have doubled the number of students who receive support. There were $330 million in the program, and we have infused another $350 million in that program. I am sure the member has seen it in her riding.
    The member ran on a platform that included an investment of $25 million between 2017 and 2019. Does she see that investment we have made has a greater impact than the $25 million the NDP had promised?

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, it makes me laugh to see how partisan the Liberals can be.
    Yes, they doubled the amount and that is significant. However, as I said in my speech, they are asking us to give fewer weeks to every young person who gets a job. It is absurd. They are positioning themselves to boost their numbers so that they can brag at the expense of our young people, who will get jobs for shorter periods of time and will not gain as many skills as they would in 12, 14, or 16 weeks.
    Let us not forget that it is an investment for three months during the summer. What is the government doing for young people who are graduating from university and college and who need a full-time job for the entire year? Automation is causing problems. Over the next 20 years, 40% of jobs will be automated. That will create job insecurity for young people. What are the Liberals doing about that? I would remind hon. members that the Minister of Finance said that we have to get used to it. What a fine response for helping our young people.

  (1145)  

    Madam Speaker, I congratulate my colleague for the clarity of her comments on the federal program, which spreads the money it provides so thinly that it puts our young people in a precarious situation.
    My question for my colleague concerns the motion before us. I would basically like to know whether we live in a state where there is a separation between rights and the government.
    Does she not find that the government is imposing its ideology on people whose beliefs differ from those of the Liberals? Is the Liberal government going down a slippery slope by imposing its ideology on all Canadians when freedom of conscience is a fundamental principle of Canadian society?
    Madam Speaker, I would say that the Liberals were very vague with respect to the criteria for applying to the Canada summer jobs program.
    Consequently, many organizations believed that they would be excluded, which was not and should not be the case. All we want is for those organizations that apply to comply with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and, above all, to respect women's rights. I believe that everyone agrees with that, and I hope that my Conservative colleague agrees that women's rights should be respected in all the activities conducted by every organization that receives public money through the Canada summer jobs program.
    That said, I think that the Conservatives could have used their opposition day to talk about the programs and services not currently available to young people. I met with representatives from Generation Squeeze Canada yesterday. According to this organization, young people aged 25 to 34 in 2018 earn on average $6,000 less than their counterparts did in 1976, 40 years ago. I think there is a problem. The government claims to want to give young people the tools and opportunities they need to thrive, but this is not what is being done in 2018, with a budget that barely addresses job insecurity and does nothing to ensure that young people are not graduating with $25,000 to $30,000 in debt because they pay interest. The government is making money from these students.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I know the people from our region appreciate the opportunity for their member of Parliament to stand today. I would like to start by saying it is an honour to split my time with the other member for Barrie—Innisfil, some would say the better member for Barrie, or at least better looking.
    Oftentimes when we get the opportunity to speak in the House of Commons, it is on motions and items where we see very positive changes happening. Unfortunately, today is not one of those moments. I think I can speak for every member in the House when I say that every summer I look forward to seeing the different organizations applying for Canada summer jobs money. They are applying to put students into the workplace to give them experience and ensure they are ready either for the studies they are going back to or eventually the job market.
    Unfortunately, this year we have had a change introduced by the Liberal government. The Prime Minister and his team have decided that in order to qualify for funding, organizations would need to sign a new attestation. Focusing on the meat of the attestation, it states:
    Both the job* and my 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 or sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression;....
    When we look at this on the surface, it is something perhaps many people would immediately jump behind. When we look deeper into this and the effect the attestation and verbiage put forward by the government is having on society, we can see major issues. We have seen organizations across the country come forward and state that they have issues getting these summer students, who will be providing services to Canadians, to sign the attestation. They cannot, in fact, sign this attestation based on the one of the items outlined in the attestation, either freedom of religion or freedom of speech.
    The Toronto City Mission, in the riding of Scarborough—Agincourt, helps literally thousands of people. It helps widows, kids in government housing, those who do not have a place to live, the homeless, those with disabilities and mental health issues, those who are seeking employment, food, and shelter. Dave Addison, of the Toronto City Mission, says the following about the attestation:
    The mission is already operating at a deficit, having decided last year to offer the camps [for children] for free because many of the families they serve can’t afford to pay any fee [at all]....
    We love the widow, the orphan, the refugee, [and] the poor. We ask the government to remove the attestation and allow us to do our loving work.
    That is the crux of the issue we have in front of us today. There are thousands upon thousands of organizations across this country that just want to love and help Canadians who are in need. In my own riding of Barrie—Springwater—Oro—Medonte, the Hope City Church in downtown Barrie helps those who are trying to get out of prostitution rings or out of human trafficking. It offers support services to help people get their lives on track, to help those dealing with mental health issues and addictions, yet this year it will not be able to provide those services because it is unable to sign this attestation.
    The government would have Canadians believe that this is somehow about some sort of side issue that it would like to bring up. The reality is that this attestation, no matter what the intent was by the government, is about the Canadians it affects. It is about the widow that the Toronto City Mission helps. It is about the children in government housing who would not have a summer camp to go to without the Toronto City Mission. This attestation and its effects, this entire debate, is about seniors who do not have access to health care, yet there are organizations in each of our communities across the country that step up and provide these services.

  (1150)  

    This attestation and this entire issue, this debate today, are about Canadians who are marginalized who no longer will have the services that they had last year because the government decided to introduce this attestation. This entire debate is about supporting those in our community who need help, and it does not matter where in the country they come from. It does not matter whether someone is a Liberal MP in Atlantic Canada, a Conservative MP from Ontario, or a New Democrat from B.C. These issues are affecting us all the same.
    We are seeing organizations in our communities pulling back from the entire process for summer students, which means they are pulling back from the services that they are providing Canadians or trying to find ways to come up with the funding. It is terrible. I never thought that I would see the day when we would have a government double the amount of funds going to this program, which is literally training young people to help those in need and actually helping those who are in need, and at the same time as doubling the funding it is cutting the services to those who need it most. It is incredibly shameful.
     It is not about one religion or one faith. This is affecting everybody. We saw in the National Post an article where there was an imam from the Muslim community in Mississauga speaking about this issue. We saw leaders of the Sikh community stepping up on this issue. We saw members of Catholic and Christian communities stepping up, of the Coptic Christians, and of many different faiths across our society because it affects everybody equally. It affects a Muslim kid's help phone line. It affects churches who are on the streets doing mission work. It affects Project Ramadan, which provides food and support to many different communities. Just because the organization is of the Muslim faith and has a Muslim faith basis, it does not just help Muslims. It helps everybody, anybody who is in need in that community.
    This attestation is getting in the way of these organizations being able to provide those front-line services that government fails to provide. It is getting in the way of people being able to access shelters. It is getting in the way of our young people being taught the lessons and being given the experience and learning the empathy to deal with those in our society who just do not have what we have, who do not have the same access to the things that we in the House have. To say that we are going to marginalize, as a House, that the government is somehow going to marginalize not just the groups that provide these services, not just the students who work with the groups that provide these services, but those people who are in need and who are accessing these services day in and day out, is incredibly disgusting to me.
     How could this be where the government has ended up? Maybe it was not the intent. Maybe the intent of this action was not to have those people hurt. Maybe the intent of this action was to try to do something good, but that is not what we are seeing. At first, the minister said that this is great and not to worry. Just a few weeks later, the Liberals had to walk out and say that, actually, the wording is not what the wording means and this is actually what they mean now, but they are not going to change the wording. Then we have organizations across the country saying that they cannot apply even under this changed wording because the verbiage is still the exact same as it was before. The minister, the Prime Minister, and the government have failed to listen and they failed to consult and they failed to learn what the issues were with this attestation that they put forward, which is infringing on the faith and religious beliefs of Canadians.
    I did not come to the House and I did not run for election to cut off services to those who are most in need in our community. I can say, as somebody who has grown up in government housing, who has accessed food banks, who has dealt with many of the issues that we are seeing these organizations that are being cut off deal with, that these are life and death matters in many situations. What we need to do today, as a House, is to call on the government to back away on the attestation and stand up for Canadians who have been marginalized.

  (1155)  

    Madam Speaker, over the years I have found the summer student program to be of great value to communities throughout the riding of Winnipeg North, the area I represent.
     I can appreciate the Conservatives spreading information that is not fully accurate. However, part of the concern I have as a representative wanting to serve the constituents of Winnipeg North is that if there are areas of concern, such as what the member has raised, I would suggest to those groups that when they are putting in their applications, that they have no hesitation in coming in and meeting with me. I wonder if my colleague from across the way would be inclined to do the same thing for individual groups that wanted student applications.
    Was the member encouraging them through the application process so that in fact some of those grants would have been issued?
    Madam Speaker, what we have here is the member saying that he is going to navigate groups through an application process with the Government of Canada. That may be what the government is doing here. It is trying to force groups and individuals to go down the road of its beliefs. It is trying to get everybody into this one group. The reality is that Canada is a diverse country with many different faiths, religions, and points of view. When I work with the organizations in my community and across this country, we ask them; we do not tell them. The government needs to step back, consult with Canadians, and consult with the organizations that are providing services to people who are going through such severe situations.
    I would call on the government again to stop telling Canadians and start working with them.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I think we can all agree that the government's criteria for the summer jobs program were vague. A number of organizations ended up feeling excluded.
    Does my colleague agree that all organizations must comply with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which includes women's rights and LGBTQ rights, and that these rights are non-negotiable? The government should have been more clear right from the outset.
    Furthermore, instead of simply talking about jobs that last three months, we should also be making an effort to ensure that young people have access to stable, high-quality, full-time jobs.

  (1200)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, certainly all of the issues we have been talking about surrounding this attestation are important. In my own riding, the government recommended that the Gilbert Centre, which works with individuals in the LGBTQ2 community, receive only half of the funding it had applied for. Our office ensured that all of the funding that was applied for by the Gilbert Centre was given to it.
    At the same time, the work that is done by different organizations in the community to help those who are struggling to find a home, to help those who are struggling who need shelter, to help those who do not have food, and to help those who do not have access to summer camps are just as important. These are all incredibly important issues.
    The reality here, and what I believe, is that we live in a country where we do not leave anybody behind. However, what this attestation is doing is that it is leaving literally tens of thousands of Canadians behind by cutting the funding to organizations that will help those who are marginalized in our communities.
    Mr. Speaker, I will try to be brief, but it is my first opportunity to get in on this debate, although I was attempting to do so before.
    I find two mistakes that have been made here, and one compounds the other. The first mistake was when the summer grants program allowed students to be hired by NGOs who were specifically focused on interfering with women's legal rights to access safe and legal abortions. This is a right that I support and that the Green Party supports. The response, however, was another mistake. I think the minister overreached. This attestation box has created great concern among people in my community, for example, the Hope Bay Bible Camp on Pender Island, or the Friendship Community Church, which has two good programs, including one that does soccer camps at Tsawout First Nation.
    I will be voting for the opposition motion because I believe the attestation box was a mistake, but not because for one second I will surrender on a woman's right to equal choice and equal rights.
    Mr. Speaker, I am not sure there was a question there, but I would like to respond to my hon. colleague. We certainly appreciate the member's support.
    We will continue to ensure, as a party, that all Canadians are respected and represented. That is what we are asking the government to do here today. We are asking it to allow all of us to be a part of this incredible mosaic we call Canada.
    Mr. Speaker, I also want to thank my friend from Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte not only for sharing his time with me today but for his passionate conviction on this issue of the attestation. It is an issue we have seen, over the course of the last couple of months, that has really galvanized Canadians.
    I will start off with a question, and I am not sure I will get the answer I think I should get. If government members were asked to sign something they did not believe in to receive government funding, would they? That is precisely what they are asking Canadian organizations, Canadian faith-based organizations, Canadian community organizations that do tremendous work across this country, as my friend from Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte talked about, to do. The government is asking them to sign something they do not fundamentally agree with, and they should not have to, because we have a Charter of Rights and Freedoms that defends everyone's right to freedom of speech, freedom of thought, freedom of conviction, and freedom of religion. Everyone across this country has these rights.
    I am not sure how this even came up, whether it was the minister herself who imposed this, whether this was a decision of cabinet, or whether this was a decision of the Prime Minister's backroom operatives, including Gerald Butts. This sounds very similar to the type of stuff that goes on in Ontario and did go on under Gerry Butts's watch. It is mind-boggling to me that we are even at this point.
    When the government introduced this in December, just before Christmas, it created a lot of angst within the communities that apply for funding under the Canada summer jobs program. There was a lot of confusion about the attestation. There was a lot of confusion about what it meant. If someone did not sign the attestation, what would that mean for Canada summer jobs funding?
    That confusion led to a lot of doubt, and it caused the government to step back and try to clarify the meaning of the attestation. That created more confusion. Within this envelope I have, there are rejected applications from those organizations that refused to sign the attestation or decided that they were going to put in a supplementary attestation and not check the boxes. Their applications were rejected by Service Canada, because they did not follow the criteria the government set out for them.
    What does that mean to those organizations that received Canada summer jobs funding in the past and applied that funding toward hiring students and toward helping community organizations and community groups? They are not going to get that funding, and they are not going to be able to provide valuable work experience for those young people, many of whom are in university.
    What is funny about this is that the Liberal government says that it wants to help young people gain experience and gain jobs, yet it has imposed this ideological values test that has a direct impact on those young people, many, as I said, who are university, who are looking for summer employment. It is a big problem. What is the impact of those students not working within those organizations? Many of them will not be able to do things within the community that these organizations are able to do.
    It is not just faith-based organizations that are having a problem with this. Two weeks ago, just before the application deadline, I was on the phone with Dan Dufour. Dan owns Eggsmart, in Alcona, which is in the riding of Barrie--Innisfil. Last year he hired four Canada summer jobs students. He does not have any faith-based problems with this. He has a fundamental individual rights problem with this. Dan asked me why he should sign this attestation to qualify for a government program he received in the past. That is a fair question.

  (1205)  

    What is the impact for Dan and his business? He is not going to be able to hire those four students, and the service levels within his restaurant could potentially drop. I know he is already struggling because of the high tax burden and the high regulatory burden from having a business in the province of Ontario and because of the taxes federally. I told Dan to send in the application but to include a note. I am sure his application will have been rejected because of the others that have been.
    This is a real problem. I know that the government is trying to twist this. I sat through most of the debate this morning and listened to the Liberals trying to twist it and say that it is not the way it is. Clearly, there was a lot of confusion when this program first came out.
    This is one of the things I found out after the election in 2015, when I first started dealing with the Canada summer jobs program. We have a tremendous ability to allocate funding for the Canada summer jobs program and to put it in areas where we think it will be best utilized, not just to hire students but to support the types of community programs that exist. One of those is municipalities. Municipalities generally apply for a large mount of funding. We are hearing stories from across the country that municipalities, which in some cases hire 100 or 120 students, are not going to be applying to the summer jobs program, because they do not feel, as municipalities, that they need to subscribe to a government values test to get government funding for a summer student jobs program.
    It is a very slippery slope we are heading down when the government tries to impose its own ideological purity test on these types of programs. What is next? Where does this go next? Does it go toward old age security payments for seniors? I think these are fair questions. To be eligible, am I, as an individual, going to have to sign an attestation that says that I agree with the government's ideology? If I want to apply for employment insurance, does it mean I have to sign an attestation that says I agree with the government's ideology to qualify for insurance? It should never get to that point. It should never have gotten to this point, where the government is imposing a purity test on Canadian organizations that do tremendous work across the country.
    We heard in the budget this week that there will be a lot of money flying out these doors. A lot of money will be going to organizations the government will be funding. For example, the government announced $150 million for a journalistic fund. Was it $50 million or $150 million? I do not have the number quite in my head. Is it going to impose the same purity test on those organizations to apply for this funding? There is $500 million going to a China infrastructure bank. Is the government going to impose its purity test on organizations that apply for that funding? I think not. This is a very slippery slope we are heading down.
    We have a Charter of Rights and Freedoms that protects the right of individuals to believe and think what they want. For the government to impose this test strikes at the very core of what this place represents. This place represents generations of Canadians who have fought for us to have the right to believe in what we believe in, to think what we want to think, and to say what we want to say, within some limits. Those fights have happened, and people have died for that.
    For the government to impose this on these organizations and individuals, who have a tremendous impact across the country in the work they do, which many will now not be able to do because they will not qualify because they do not want to sign the attestation, is a real shame.

  (1210)  

    It is not just a shame for those communities and those people it is going to help. It is a shame for our democracy that this government would impose an ideological purity test on Canadians.
    Mr. Speaker, I listened to both members on this issue in the last few minutes. I recognize that there is a lot going on at the provincial political level in their region of the country, so maybe they have been a little distracted and have not been able to fully understand what we are talking about here. We are not talking about beliefs. What we are talking about is an organization's willingness to support human rights, rights that have been developed and brought forward in this place, rights that have been talked about with Canadians across the country, rights that have been tested in the Supreme Court, with precedents set.
    The member talked about a person named Dan who owns a restaurant in his riding. Rather than continue to confuse Dan, why is he not working with him to make sure that Dan can continue to get support? By politicizing this issue, as the Conservatives are doing, the member is directly impacting the ability of a restaurant operator in his riding to get money from this. Why will he not support his own constituents to make sure that they can get the money they need for these important programs?

  (1215)  

    Mr. Speaker, how dare the hon. member accuse me of not working with my constituent. In fact, I actually called Dan, because I noticed that he had not applied at this point. I asked everyone who applied to send my office the application. The member can sit there in Kingston and the Islands and deal with his constituents, and I will deal with mine.
    The member talked about beliefs. I want to quote the member for Coast of Bays—Central—Notre Dame, who is a member of the government. When discussing the government's attestation for Canada summer jobs, the member for Coast of Bays—Central—Notre Dame said, "To me, that's a lack of respect. If I was to say to someone, 'Look, don't worry about it, just tick the box or whatever' — some people have a core fundamental belief that they don't believe in this.” He talked about beliefs.
    He is not alone in thinking that. Will the government finally listen to the concerns of Canadians and remove this inappropriate test from the Canada summer jobs application? That is a member from the Liberal side who said that. When the hon. member speaks of beliefs, he needs to listen to his own side as well.
    Mr. Speaker, I am grateful to be able to intervene on this matter again. It is an important thing that MPs work with their constituents to help them through this process. I do not think it is politicized by political parties. I will, on the appropriate occasion, take that up with Conservatives for politicizing issues if they do not need to.
    This really is coming from the grassroots. There are a lot of really good projects run by local church and religious groups in my riding. Every year they have qualified for summer grant funding. Every year they have people in the community doing good work. They have never had a political objective with those summer grants programs.
    There was that one bad example I mentioned earlier of the wrong group that should never have gotten funding. The ministers should use their discretion and communicate it through their departments that political groups who harass women seeking their legal right to abortion should never receive funding. They should not have needed to go to a one-size-fits-all checkbox.
    I wonder if my hon. colleague would agree with me that some groups should not have received funding in the last round.
    Mr. Speaker, as I said earlier, one of the abilities we as members have is to disseminate money to certain organizations and certain groups. In that case, a lot of discretion is left to the member of Parliament. The business owner in Alcona I cited does not have any core beliefs in terms of religion or faith or anything else. He just does not believe that he is required to sign this attestation.
    In dealing with constituents and walking them through this, I want to make sure as a member of Parliament that I am putting them in the best position I can, but I am not going to ask them to sign something they do not fundamentally believe they should sign. As I said at the outset, and I gave this example, I do not believe there is anyone in the government who, if I told them to sign something they do not believe in, would actually sign it for the sake of government funding. It just does not make sense.
    Before we go to resuming debate, I will let the members who are standing up know that I will do my best to make sure they all get a chance to participate in the questions and comments period. Resuming debate.
    Mr. Speaker, before I begin I wish to inform the House that I will be splitting my time with the member for Edmonton Centre.
    I am pleased to provide some background and some perspective on a Government of Canada program that has brought support to, and transformed, the outlook of young people in Canada for decades. I am referring to the Canada summer jobs program.
    I have had the privilege as an MP of meeting many employers and many students of the CSJ program over the years. I have seen just how much difference it makes in the community, whether I was visiting students who were helping disabled people learn how to sail at Jericho Beach, or whether it was the many youth camps where young people go out into the wilderness of Pacific Spirit Regional Park to learn about ecology, or whether it is the legal clinics where young people who are entering into their education to become lawyers are hired to provide free services to people who cannot afford to pay for legal services, or whether it is those young students who are teaching swimming lessons to the children of families in Vancouver Quadra. There have been many ways that I have seen the benefits for the community.
    This is a program that also has specific objectives for meeting the current and future needs of the labour market, and for improving the situation of the youth as they prepare to enter the labour market. This is why national priorities for the Canada summer jobs program, CSJ, were established in the first place.
    Here is an outline of some of those priorities that our government has established. We are giving priority to employers who hire youth from under-represented groups, including new immigrants and refugees, indigenous peoples, people with disabilities, and visible minorities. It is true that all young people face challenges, but some young people face more challenges than others. They could benefit hugely from an opportunity to have a summer job.
    For example, indigenous youth are less likely to complete high school than non-indigenous youth. We all know that abandoning high school will have a significant impact on a person's future career prospects. It is important to be able to access a summer job.
    Most often youth who are immigrants have no work experience in Canada, and have no network to rely on. As well, they do not necessarily have the basic skills in one of our official languages, and have challenges in getting their foreign credentials and credits recognized.
    These are all key elements of a successful integration into the Canadian market and a Canada summer job. The income is important to the students, and so is the work experience, the mentoring they receive, and the chance to improve their skills in the workplace. That is why youth from underrepresented groups are part of our national priorities in the context of the CSJ program.
    A second priority is favouring small businesses that play such an important role in creating jobs in Canada. Having come from a small business and then a medium business background, I am very mindful of how difficult it is for small business people. Small business people, as we know, are one of the key drivers of the Canadian economy, accounting for some 97.9% of all businesses in Canada, and representing, on average, 30% of our national GDP, playing a very important role in job creation.
    Small businesses do not always have the ability to pay a full salary to a summer employee, to be able to expand the services, or respond to extra demand over the summer. This federal incentive of the CSJ program is the element that allows them to hire young, inexperienced staff who will benefit from the training that they receive, but also bring new ideas and experience to the workplace.
    A third priority is with regard to the official language minority communities. This program also considers organizations that support employment opportunities for official language minority communities as a national priority.

  (1220)  

    It is no secret that minority language groups often experience challenges in maintaining the vitality of their language and culture. The CSJ programs helps by promoting the delivery of bilingual service and the use of the second language in the workplace. I know the francophone communities in British Columbia and Vancouver experienced this to be a very useful support for all of the hard work they do, often on a volunteer basis, to maintain and increase the services and vibrancy of their communities.
    A fourth priority of this Canada summer jobs program is organizations that offer services or support to the LGBTQ2 community. Our government recognizes that all individuals should have the right to live according to their sexual identity, and to express that identity without discrimination. Why does the CSJ program give priority to organizations that provide opportunities for young people in the LGBTQ2 community? Simply because it is the right thing to do. This community has always been discriminated against in the workplace. Even today, members of the LGBTQ2 community earn less than their peers. Therefore, having an opportunity for a summer job can help bridge that opportunity gap.
    Science and technology is a key theme for our government, and for our country's future. The CSJ program will place a particular focus on organizations that support job opportunities in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics sectors, as well as the information and communications technologies sectors, particularly for women.
    Already in my constituency of Vancouver Quadra, UBC has been a beneficiary of the CSJ program to increase the opportunities it can provide to students, and the work that can be done during the summer months for the very important programs, particularly research.
     I am very pleased to hear that this is now an explicit priority for the program to support our vision of making Canada a global innovation centre. This complements the historic investments in research that budget 2018 has just announced, which I am thrilled by, as are so many Canadians. By helping employers create early work experiences in the areas of science and technology, our government enables students to consider careers in the high-demand well-paid occupations that are shaping the future of the country.
     Women tend to be less represented in the STEM sector. Women need to have equal opportunities to participate. This year, employers in that category are actively encouraged to consider employing women, because we know that the proportion of women is too low in science and technology. We want to think about ways that we can help reverse that trend through our government initiatives.
    Service Canada will evaluate the applications based on the eligibility conditions and the local MP's priorities as well, because local MPs understand what makes sense on the ground in terms of supporting the government's larger direction, and all eligible applications are ranked by their evaluation score.
    These are the key evaluation criteria for the CSJ program. They help ensure that the program brings benefits to our citizens, their families, and the students. In this spirit, the CSJ program will not fund organizations whose primary activities involve partisan political activities, or whose activities do not respect or do actively undermine established individual human rights in Canada. That is not what government money or the CSJ program should be for.
    There has been some representation on behalf of some groups and persons who have been critical of our evaluation criteria. However, I want to assure members of this House, and the people following this debate, that there is ample opportunity for those who are supporting Canada's rights and values to access this program. Many organizations are clear that the safeguards introduced to the CSJ program are not discriminatory, and do not represent any infringement on the freedoms of religion or conscience, or any other rights that people enjoy.

  (1225)  

    I am very happy that the CSJ program will continue to bring important benefits to young Canadians and their communities for decades to come.
    Mr. Speaker, the member's speech sounded very practical, and yet at the same time, it was untruthful, because the comment that this is open to all organizations, which want to help that are of a religious nature, is not true. Clearly, there has not been a study on that side of the House of what faith means to the average person who has a faith.
    A pastor from my hometown of Esterhazy sent this paragraph, and asked me to share it. I will read it quickly, and then ask the member to comment on it. He wrote, “We have received a notification that our application must be resubmitted because the attestation cannot be altered or modified, the 'I attest' box must be checked and the application signed. However, as was explained to you in our application, the requirement of the government to force us to make the attestation is very discriminatory. In fact, we believe it to be a violation of our constitutional rights. Compelled speech violates the long held democratic rights that have existed in Canada before the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and have been reiterated in the charter and are recognized in the Canadian Human Rights Act. Our religious beliefs and obligations, our conscience, our beliefs, thoughts, and opinions all preclude us from making the attestation as set out with the application and guide including the supplementary information. That is the reason why we include a note regarding the attestation in our original application.”
    Clearly, there are many organizations that want to participate, that should participate, and are being held back because of this attestation.

  (1230)  

    Mr. Speaker, the member's question gives me an opportunity to reinforce and confirm that it is not about the beliefs of an organization. Organizations are not being asked to submit their beliefs to any test.
    I have a huge respect and admiration for faith communities of all stripes, because of the kinds of services they provide to their community, and the assistance they provide in their communities. There are many faith communities that have in the past and will continue to be part of the CSJ program.
    The attestation is about the job. What is the purpose of the job, and the organization's core mandate which means its activities, not its beliefs. It is not appropriate for government dollars to go to a job, or an activity, that is not consistent with Canada's value around a woman's right to choose, or around the inclusion and equal opportunity for the LGBTQ2 community.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, this is an extremely delicate issue, and I will say that the NDP agrees with the Liberal government that public funds should not be used to pay students whose job or mission would be to undermine constitutional rights, like women's right to control their own bodies and make their own choices. On that subject, you either are a feminist or you are not. You either respect women's rights or you do not.
    However, I want to ask the parliamentary secretary whether she would agree that this news was announced in a confusing way. Many churches and faith groups in our ridings provide community services that are totally unrelated to this part of their ideology, such as running day camps for children. These people feel sort of threatened or targeted by the government's approach, even though the work that the students would be doing is really about serving the public and the community.
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my NDP colleague for his question. It is not always easy to communicate a change in an initiative or process to the entire country or population of Canada. It is very important, and it is a privilege for us, as MPs, to be able to talk to our constituents and to religious and non-religious groups to explain the goal and objectives of this program and how its regulation and the changes made by the government can better promote Canadian values. The jobs can serve the public good, as the member was saying.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate this opportunity to provide our government's perspective on an issue that is at the heart of our employment objectives for our young people, which is the issue of access to good-quality jobs.
     Canada summer jobs has been a very successful Government of Canada program that has offered thousands of youth job opportunities since it was first created. The program has been reaching its objectives to give young people the opportunity to acquire work and life experience while supporting community-based initiatives. Fundamentally, this is about jobs for kids.
    These are simple objectives. The spirit of the program is to open doors for young people and give them a good start to their working careers.
     It has been my honour as a member of Parliament to approve this list for hundreds of young people in our community and to ensure that at every point in every year I was able to make those kinds of calls, no discrimination was taking place.
    In this context, the organizations that provide quality employment to young people through the Canada summer jobs program are as varied as the economic sectors in the country. The CSJ program provides funding to not-for-profit organizations, public sector employers, and small businesses with 50 or fewer full-time employees. The range of activities is therefore almost unlimited.
     There are, and have been, a number of eligibility criteria that employers must meet, but there is one key requirement that underpins eligibility, and that criterion is respect.

  (1235)  

[Translation]

    This program, which has certainly already proven itself, provides subsidies to employers so that they can create valuable summer jobs for students enrolled in secondary or post-secondary studies. This can include employers in the public sector, private companies with fewer than 50 employees, and non-profit organizations. Religious and faith-based organizations are of course eligible for program funding, as in past years, and we strongly encourage them to submit an application.
    However, it is important to remember that one of the fundamental principles our government believes in is upholding the rights of Canadians, especially the rights guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. That is why, after we learned that funding through this program had been used to undermine the rights of some Canadians, we took the necessary steps to ensure that it never happens again. As the government, we had a duty to consider the fact that some organizations were not allowing young people from the LGBTQ2 community to attend their summer camps or they were distributing images of aborted fetuses. That is why we had to ask organizations to clarify their mandate and their primary activities before giving them funding under the Canada summer jobs program.

[English]

    Our government and members of the government have been clear and vocal about our basic values over the course of our two-year time in government, values like inclusion, compassion, respect, and no discrimination. We have been trying to integrate those values into our policies and programs, like our progressive trade agenda and the inclusion of human factors in environmental assessments.
     This year, the CSJ program includes an element whereby applicants are required to 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. We know there were comments and conversations about this and that there were constructive conversations between reasonable people. The Prime Minister spoke with the cardinal of Montreal, and the cardinal encouraged all Catholic parishes to apply to the fund. That is a fantastic example of constructive dialogue between government and faith organizations.
    There is an old line that my uncle would use when we would all get together at Christmastime. He would tell all sorts of hilarious jokes and wild stories. If anybody ever questioned him about the details of his jokes, he would say, “Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.” I have to compliment the opposition members today for bringing me back to those Christmas dinners, because they obviously feel they have a great storyline but the truth has nothing to do with it.
     The arguments of the Conservative Party have nothing whatsoever to do with the actual content of the attestation or our government's policy on the Canada summer jobs grant. The attestation makes it crystal clear that it has nothing to do with an individual's personal beliefs, but everything to do with the nature of the jobs that organization is hiring for and the nature of the organization's core mandate, the core mandate not their personal beliefs.
    The motion talks about organizations whose mandate is to feed the homeless. There is nothing in the attestation talking about core mandates of feeding the homeless. I want to see an end to homelessness. I want to ensure that all homeless people are fed, and so does our government.
     The motion talks about organizations that help refugees. There is nothing in the attestation about having a core mandate to help refugees.
    The opposition is pulling its hair out over a problem that simply does not exist. I sympathize with pulling one's hair out because I do not have much left to pull out. However, the Conservative Party is looking for headlines. The Conservatives see an opportunity to scare Canadians into thinking the government is coming for them and their private beliefs. Nothing could be further from the truth. People are protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, with the freedom to worship in our country.
    Let us talk about what is in the attestation. In particular, I want to talk about a key aspect of the attestation that has not received much attention in this discussion. It is the requirement to attest that the job and the organization will respect the right to be from discrimination on the grounds protected by the Canada Human Rights Act, including sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression.
    Some 15 months ago, the House passed Bill C-16 to protect Canadians from discrimination on the basis of their gender identity or gender expression. It explicitly protects transgender and non-binary Canadians from being discriminated against in employment. Bill C-16, as members well know, is now law, and it passed the House with the support of members from all parties, including the mover of today's motion. Perhaps those members can explain why they voted for a law that protects gender-diverse Canadians from discrimination in employment, but are now angry that the Government of Canada will not fund organizations that want to discriminate in employment against these very gender-diverse Canadians.
    Individuals are entitled to their personal beliefs. However, it is a reality that there are organizations that hold LGBTQ2 people like me with contempt and believe they are entitled to discriminate against me and others because of who we love or how we express our gender. That is why governments have passed laws to protect me and members of my community from that discrimination. Yet, it seems, from the arguments I hear today, that there is a belief that these organisations are not only entitled to discriminate, but they deserve a big government effort and government financing to help them fund that effort.
    Our government has taken a stand that if an organization's mandate is to turn back the clock and take away the rights and human dignity of LGBTQ2 Canadians, or women, or indigenous people, or people with disabilities or people of visible minority background, it has the right to do so but it does not have the right to expect LGBTQ2 Canadians and other taxpayers to pay it to do it.
    The other piece of this discussion is with respect to abortion. Once again, individuals are entitled to have different views on this issue. For 10 years, the previous government refused to fund international organizations that performed abortion services overseas. The Conservatives had said that if an organization was involved in abortion, it did not get Government of Canada funding. I remember those days. I do not remember a single member opposite speaking out about it. The members seemed perfectly fine to deny needed medical services to women based on a viewpoint on abortion. However, our government refuses to pay organizations to hire individuals to protest outside of an abortion clinic to scare or abuse women, or pay organizations to hand out grotesque pamphlets on the streets. We have a problem with that.
    Again, people are absolutely entitled to their own points of view in our country. They are entitled to hold those views and apply for or receive a summer job grant. However, if they choose to discriminate in their employment or want to hire people for no other job than to turn back the clock on women's rights, on LGBTQ2 rights, on the rights of persons with disabilities, on indigenous rights, then this government will decline their requests for such a cheque.
    Who is supporting us in this matter? Abortion Support Services Atlantic, Alberta Pro-Choice Coalition, Shelter House Thunder Bay, Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants, the Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity, as well as the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies.
    Is it too much to ask that a Government of Canada program respect the individual rights and values underlying the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms? That all seems reasonable to our government as well as to major stakeholders, including the National Association of Women and the Law. I hope all members in the House will come to the same conclusion.
     We are forging ahead with our goal of strengthening the middle class and creating a level playing field where everyone has the chance to succeed. That is our vision. That is our commitment.

  (1240)  

    Mr. Speaker, one organization in my riding affected by this is the Pine Ridge Bible Camp in northern Alberta. It has said that it cannot, in clear conscience, submit to this attestation. It says that it is a violation of its freedom of association and freedom of religion covered by the charter. It is saying that its charter rights are being affected.
    The member also talked about particular camps turning people away for their lifestyle, whatever that happened to be. Could he name a single camp that has applied for the summer job program where that has been the case?

  (1245)  

    Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his work in his riding.
     It is time for an educational moment. Being gay, being queer, being trans is not a lifestyle. We are born this way. It is a fundamental characteristic of who we are. We do not choose to be gay, or queer, or bisexual, or transgender or two-spirited. That is a really important characteristic and a really important notification for members of the House.
    People can have intersecting identities. In fact, one of the great joys of my role as special adviser to the Prime Minister on LGBTQ issues is realizing how many queer people are also people of faith.
    My question back for the hon. member is this. Why is it so difficult for organizations of faith to exclude kids of faith who are also LGBTQ2? We are dealing with that fundamental issue.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Edmonton Centre for his speech. His passion comes through in his remarks and responses to questions.
    I have to say that I completely agree with him. Taxpayers' money should not be used to pay students working for organizations that oppose certain constitutional rights, such as women's right to control their own bodies and make their own choices, or that discriminate against or exclude teenagers or children who belong to the LGBTQ2 community.
    However, we also have many faith groups and churches in our ridings that organize public and social activities and provide services such as day camps and community kitchens. Those groups may have felt targeted by the Liberal government's new measure and somewhat threatened by the confusion it created.
    Can my colleague suggest a way to rectify the situation?
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague opposite for his support and his dedication to human rights.
    It is important to note that some United churches have signed the attestation knowing that the jobs they want to fill this summer in no way conflict with their faith or the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Some Catholic parishes are signing the attestation because they feel that the jobs they have posted in no way conflict with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Some synagogues are also applying for the program.
    The fact that some faith groups have already signed the attestation and do not feel threatened by our program suggests to me that everything is fine.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, as the member knows, I am in full support of those communities. However, we have to look at some other things.
    I want to mention a letter that I received from Great Lakes International Air Show. Maybe he can tell me what this has to do with the community to which he has referred. The organization is not comfortable with signing this attestation. This is an air show. It is what brings tourism to our community. However, as a board, it is not comfortable signing this. The organization's mandate is not about that. It feels the government is stomping on its rights of beliefs. A board of 12 people cannot agree with this.
    Whether some people may be pro this or pro that, it does not matter. At the end of the day, what matters is that we will lose people who will help our economy with tourism. We will stop children and students from getting these jobs and the skills development because of this attestation.
    If the government had to put out supplementary information, had to backtrack, explaining its view, does the member truly think the attestation is crystal clear?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member across the way for her support on LGBTQ and human rights issues.
    As it pertains to this case, I cannot comment on why the board members may or may not want to sign the attestation.
    With organizations in my riding, the clear message I am dealing with is that it is not about fundamental beliefs. It is about the positions they are hiring for and whether they are going to put anybody in a conflict or discriminate against them based on their fundamental rights, their charter rights.
    As members of Parliament, we have the responsibility to look at the attestation, to interpret that it is about the job, about preventing kids from being discriminated against in the workplace. An organization that hires as many kids as it wants and signs the attestation as to whether it is a faith-based group or has an air show that drives a lot of tourism to the riding sounds like great organization to me.
    On a point of information, before we go to resuming debate, I note there is a lot of interest in participating in the period for questions and comments today. Members will recall from previous occasions that when a 10-minute speech has been given by one side of the House, generally speaking, we will look to give preference to members who are posing questions and comments from the other side or from the other parties.
    Having said that, it does not mean that members of the same party as the member who just presented a speech will not be recognized. Certainly, we work from a position of catching the Speaker's eye, which is what members should do, to participate in the questions and comments period. We will do our very best to ensure everyone gets a chance to be included in that. Even if it is not in that round, we will eventually get the member into the debate.

  (1250)  

[Translation]

    Resuming debate. The hon. member for Bellechasse—Les Etchemins—Lévis.
    Mr. Speaker, thank you for your kind introduction.
    I am rising in the House today to explain to those who may be listening that we want to preserve the pillars of our society. We are proud of our democracy and the rights we have acquired. We saw the example of someone from the LGBTQ community asserting their rights and convictions. That is Canada. It is an open, tolerant, and generous country when it comes to the beliefs of each and everyone of us.
    With this measure, the Liberal government is really imposing its rigid partisan agenda. We saw this last week; it is a partisan straitjacket. We all remember the Prime Minister's disastrous trip to India. The fact that he used taxpayers' money to pay for his vacation is dubious enough already. It is even more dubious considering that he brought along certain MPs to solicit members of a specific community rather than do real business with one of the biggest countries in the world, with which we need to build a strong trade relationship. It is worse still when he plays partisan politics and attacks the integrity of our public service by sending his representatives to defend the indefensible and cover up his blunders. We all remember the case of Jaspal Atwal, who went to India and caused quite a stir. Asking a public servant to get involved was completely unnecessary. Here is what an Indian newspaper had to say about the whole affair:

[English]

...a disaster that has little parallel in India’s recent diplomatic history.

[Translation]

    It was just last week that public servant Daniel Jean was thrown to the wolves. Because of partisanship, the Liberals are prepared to compromise the necessary separation between politics and the federal public service, not to speak of creating a major embarrassment with India. I hope that, as a country, we will apologize to India, because the Prime Minister’s behaviour has not made us proud. Last week we saw the firm grip of partisanship, akin to a straitjacket.
     This week, we were put in a financial straitjacket. The Liberals are driving us into yet another deficit. This will be our third year posting a deficit, this time totalling $18 billion. All this while raising taxes for eight out of 10 middle-class families. Families are paying more tax, and future Canadians will pay off our debt. This is the second straitjacket the Liberals have put us in.
     The third is the subject of the motion today. It is an ideological straitjacket. Broadly speaking, it is not complicated, it means that Canadians who do not think exactly like the Prime Minister have a problem. That is what we are denouncing today.
     Yesterday, this same Prime Minister and most of his MPs proudly wore pink. Why? To oppose bullying and harassment. That was right here, yesterday. Everyone was spouting rhetoric about respecting diversity and different points of view and building a diverse society. In fact, this principle is so important that it is enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
    Unfortunately, here is an example of the government trying to impose its ideological agenda on us. It is using a program that is meant to create jobs in my riding, Bellechasse—Les Etchemins—Lévis, as well as in the riding of the hon. member for Kitchener—Conestoga, with whom I will be sharing my time. This is a member who has done excellent work and for whom I have great respect. I am convinced that he will do an impeccable job of addressing a point he deems important.
     In this country, and in our political party, we respect every individual’s freedom of conscience and freedom of belief. Unfortunately, the Liberals believe in the Liberal doctrine. It is the Prime Minister’s way or the highway.
     In this case, he is excluding organizations that do not endorse the Liberal ideology. Obviously, as I mentioned, this is an approach that runs counter to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, because we must protect freedom of conscience.

  (1255)  

     In the case of the Canada summer jobs program, we should be thinking about creating jobs. The aim of the program is to create jobs for Canadian youth. That is not what the government is doing. The Prime Minister says that he is going to create jobs, but only if people think exactly like he does. People have to endorse his beliefs and values, despite the fact that freedom of conscience, freedom of expression, and freedom of religious belief are enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
     His Majesty the Prime Minister has decided that he holds the absolute truth. If you do not think like he does, you are not entitled to government money. Where is this going to end? Unfortunately, the government has a tendency to impose its partisan agenda on federal public servants. It is driving us into a financial abyss and now it is waging ideological warfare. It is a slippery slope because our political system relies on separate judicial, legislative, and executive systems. However, it appears that the Prime Minister’s omnipotence allows him to interfere with the other pillars of our democracy, in particular by attacking the very fundamental rights that he claims to be upholding. We disagree, and we are not the only ones.
     Several Canadian organizations are standing up and saying that they do not want to be told what to think. That is not the government’s role. They are uncomfortable signing a form that places them in a straitjacket. That is why we are asking the Prime Minister to put an immediate end to these ideological constraints he is imposing on organizations applying to the program. We saw several examples today, including summer camp organizations and people with other interesting projects who find themselves in a dilemma because they must make an ethical choice, a choice of conscience. That is what is at stake. The government wants to impose its ideological agenda, and that is unacceptable.
     Justin Trudeau is entitled to his opinions and points of view, but he cannot impose them on everyone. This is not complicated; we are saying that the Canada summer jobs program is a program to create jobs. It is not a program for imposing an ideological point of view. What we are asking is that the government withdraw the attestation, withdraw the ideological criteria for a program that is intended for all Canadians, not just those who are on Justin Trudeau’s bandwagon, or who are entitled—
    Order. I did not stop the hon. member the first time, but he has mentioned the family name of a member of the House twice now. Perhaps he will remember that he is to use the name of the riding or the member’s title.

[English]

    Questions and comments, the hon. member of Niagara Centre.
    Mr. Speaker, we know that the Leader of the Opposition, the member for Regina—Qu'Appelle, has a long-standing relationship with the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform, an organization that fights against a woman's right to choose. With the support of the Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform having been so critical to his leadership victory, it is not difficult to understand why the Leader of the Opposition has a vested interest in ensuring the centre can continue to rely on taxpayer funds to promote its anti-abortion agenda.
    The Leader of the Opposition also gave a statement where he affirmed that he voted against transgender rights in Bill C-16. We know the Leader of the Opposition is against LBGTQ2 rights. He is against a woman's right to choose, and is against transgender rights.
    I would ask the member, should attestation attach itself to the beliefs of the organization or to the belief that individuals who are applying for jobs not be discriminated against?

  (1300)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I am saddened by my colleague’s question, and especially by its preamble, which is a manifestation of the current government’s partisan approach.
     While we should be talking about creating jobs for Canadian youth, here he is launching a tirade bereft of all sense or values. That being said, I would like to apologize for having named the current Prime Minister. I do think that his father, former prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, must roll over in his grave sometimes when he sees the current Prime Minister renouncing the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms by imposing his ideological agenda.
    The question asked by the Liberal member only proves it. This is not a question about job creation, it is a partisan question aimed simply at bashing us because we do not think like the Prime Minister. I have the courage to say to the hon. member that here, in our party, we respect diversity and different points of view, while the Liberals are confined to an ideological agenda. I am very proud to be Canadian and a member of the Conservative Party.
    Mr. Speaker, it is odd hearing my colleague say that they are here to uphold the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, because I have the impression that, on the contrary, they started this debate to defend their ideology, which consists in working against women’s rights.
    It is true that the Liberals did a poor job of establishing criteria for the Canada summer jobs program. The criteria were very unclear and had to be changed. This created quite a stir in the media and in our communities, I agree. However, it is important to ask community organizations that apply to the Canada summer jobs program to attest that they comply with the Charter of Canadian Rights and Freedoms, women’s rights, and LGBTQ2 community rights. I hope that my colleague agrees, because it is that simple. In my opinion, the groups in his riding also agree.
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague. Indeed, I could answer simply that I agree. That is why we started this debate today. We believe that it is important that government programs be based on the principles enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, including freedom of conscience and freedom of belief. That is what the government is currently attacking, and we believe that it is a slippery slope.
     That being said, I had the opportunity to speak to my colleague earlier. The Liberals are making a mistake with this program, because they shortened the period during which young people have access to the program. This creates a precarious situation for young people during the period when they are not in school, which has the opposite effect of that intended by the program. However, this allows the Liberals to boast of having a wonderful program when, by digging a little deeper, we find that it is an ideological program that does not benefit young Canadians, since the Liberals have shortened the period during which they can work.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, the deadline for the Canada summer jobs program passed last month, but I am still hearing from groups and organizations from my riding and across Canada that are confused and unsure whether or not they will be approved for funding like they have in previous years.
    These groups are not the monsters the Liberals are making them out to be. They are summer camps, food banks, groups working with at-risk youth and those challenged physically or emotionally, seniors homes, personal care facilities, and groups working with new refugees, helping them adjust to life in a new country, finding accommodation and helping them with English as a second language, and finding social networks to help new arrivals develop friendships and connections. To have the Liberal government attack them day in and day out in the media and here in the House is shameful and has left them feeling like enemies of their government.
     Conservatives believe in Canadians' fundamental freedoms, the right to freedom of conscience, freedom of beliefs, and the right to freedom of expression. No one has the right to prevent others from advocating or expressing their beliefs, especially their government.
    That is why Conservatives oppose the values test the Liberal government has imposed on applicants for Canada summer jobs grants. Under this test, if an organization does not sign the attestation agreeing with the ideological positions of the Liberal Party, the organization will no longer be eligible to receive funding for a summer student. Let me read part of the attestation:
     [B]oth 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 or sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.
    As I already said, this is directly affecting groups in my riding and across Canada to the point that now many organizations have made the tough decision and have refused to apply for Canada's summer jobs program this year. I think about the loss of these important services. It is a huge loss to our community. Then I think of how the students themselves will be affected without a job this summer because of the misuse of this government program to favour the Liberals' ideological allies.
    That is why I was happy to sponsor an electronic petition from a local resident, Joyce Stankiewicz, from New Hamburg in my riding of Kitchener—Conestoga. Petition e-1484 reads as follows:
    Whereas:
    The current eligibility requirements of employers seeking to apply for Government of Canada funding through the Canada Summer Jobs Program require organizations to sign an attestation stating that their organization’s core mandate respects individual human rights in Canada, including the values underlying the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms as well as other rights, including 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;
    We believe that requiring organizations to attest that this is their organization’s “core mandate” would force many organizations to choose between their beliefs, often rooted in their religion, and being able to receive funding; and
    By its nature, this requirement discriminates against organizations based on their beliefs.
    We, the undersigned, residents of Canada, call upon the Government of Canada to remove this discriminatory requirement and allow Canadians to continue to exercise their freedom of religion and freedom of expression without facing institutionalized discrimination by the Government of Canada.
    This petition went live on February 6, a little over three weeks ago, and as of this morning had well over 6,100 signatures.
    The government is out of touch with Canadians on its best day, but this is a new level of arrogance of the Liberal government two years into its first mandate.
    The minister's response to these groups across Canada was, “Don't worry, just sign the attestation anyway.” To be instructed to ignore one's deeply held beliefs and to sign an attestation which is diametrically opposite to one's fundamental world views is to encourage dishonesty. It promotes hypocrisy. For each of us here it is important that we aspire to the highest standards of integrity. In other words, we act on what we say we believe.
    Sir Thomas More is often quoted as saying, “When statesmen forsake their private conscience for sake of their own public duties they lead their country by a short route to chaos.” That is so true.

  (1305)  

    What the Liberals fundamentally fail to understand is that Canadians do have deeply held personal beliefs, beliefs they are unwilling to be forced to go against, and we as leaders should not be forcing them to forsake their private conscience.
    In 2018, it is an absolute shame that I am hearing from groups in my riding who feel bullied and pressured by their government to sign an attestation that goes directly against their beliefs. One group that asked to remain anonymous told my staff, “We don't want our organization's name used because we are fearful that the Liberal government will cut our funding because we have spoken out.” That is a shame. This group works with individuals with special needs. These are Canadians who deserve to be honoured and celebrated by our government, not attacked.
    When the Prime Minister of Canada said that Canada is back, I am not so sure what he was talking about. Is he saying that Canada is back to discriminating against citizens who do not hold the same beliefs, or that Canada is back to attacking the rights of Canadians to freedom of speech, belief, and expression?
    Another group in my riding that provides low-cost full-day camps for kids in junior kindergarten to grade 5 said in an email to my office, “We find that many of the families who register for the camps are able to do so because of their affordability. We filled 240 camp spaces...within a few weeks of opening registration in March and parents in our community have come to rely on them. We love to be able to make these programs available to our community and have always felt so fortunate to receive the summer job grants from the federal government to make them possible.”
    The email goes on to say, “We value loving and blessing our neighbours and don't ever want to discriminate against any group, regardless of their beliefs. We believe in freedom of thought and religion. However, like many others, we will not in good conscience be able to sign the attestation as it is written into the new application. Our plan for application submission as directed by our denomination and the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada is to move forward and submit our application without checking off the attestation box on the application.”
    By all accounts, by all indications given by the current government, this group, which provides subsidized child care spots to over 200 children throughout the summer in and around my riding, will now be rejected simply because they refused to go against their beliefs with respect to this unfair request of the government. What is the government's plan to help those parents who now cannot affordable child care over the summer? I doubt very much that there even is a plan.
    A pastor in Kanata, which is not far from here, wrote to his member of Parliament, the MP for Kanata—Carleton. In his letter he stated:
    We have a wonderful evangelical congregation here.... It is active and vibrant, with a significant ongoing history of being very involved in the life of our community, and with a positive reputation for a high level of community involvement and impact. From the low-cost housing development behind our church building, including a 6-storey building and multiple townhouse-styled units, through past social projects like hospice care; from our monthly “Open Table” which offers free meals to some 140 guests, to sponsoring a Muslim Syrian refugee family of seven (now eight!); and from our international work in Mexico and last year in Rwanda, to local ministries like our onsite summer camp: we act on what we believe Jesus has asked us to do.
     The pastor goes on to say later in his letter:
    In short, our belief is that the government does not have the right to ask us to make any kind of statement which conflicts with our religious conscience. I need to tell you that what I have heard from the government over the past month makes remarkably clear that the government officials involved in this process simply do not know or understand us or our faith. It is sad that who we are, and what we do, is so radically unknown to our own government. We could be a great asset in the work of justice and good things. That’s what we do; we do it well.
    The Conservatives believe that Canadians know better than government what is good for them. We listened and consulted with community organizations across the country, because we believe that Canadians have a right to hold their own beliefs and to express themselves without fear of judgment from the federal government.
    In the spirit of the motion, I hope that all members will agree that organizations that engage in non-political, non-activist work, such as feeding the homeless, helping refugees, and giving kids an opportunity to go to camp, should be able to access Canada summer jobs funding, regardless of their private convictions and regardless of whether or not they choose to sign the application attestation. It is my sincere hope that all members of the House will have the freedom to vote their conscience on this very crucial issue that affects all Canadians.

  (1310)  

    Mr. Speaker, I listened to the list of services that the member is worried about not receiving Canada summer job grants: children's camps; meals on wheels programs; and support for immigrants and refugees who arrive in this country. Those core jobs, none of which involve violating people's human rights or basic charter rights, are all eligible under the attestation.
    Additionally, the core job of a church is not to challenge charter rights in a political fashion but rather to support a moral framework under which one receives one's human rights. The attestation does not require churches or organizations to surrender their religious beliefs or violate their moral code. All it says is that the core organizational structure of the applicant cannot be a political one aimed at violating people's rights.
    For example, there was an organization in my riding that was receiving funding effectively to hand out postcards next to summer camps of little babies that were being tortured in some grotesque display. It was hideous. That has been now ruled as an illegal practice in the province of Ontario. That organization, whose only goal is to remove a woman's right to choice, is exactly what should not be funded in the same way that a political party should not be funded through the Canada summer jobs program.
    If the member is really serious about protecting kids summer jobs, what is the problem with signing the attestation if the core value of the organization and the job is not about violating charter rights but about providing a summer camp for kids? Why can they not be convinced to sign it?

  (1315)  

    Mr. Speaker, the reality is that it is not primarily members on this side of the House nor is it people in churches across this country who have been the loudest spokespeople on this. We have heard from non-profit groups that provide care for refugees, from non-profit groups that provide care for seniors or mentally and physically handicapped people.
    This is about individual freedom of speech and freedom of expression and being forced to sign a statement with which one fundamentally disagrees. Many colleagues on that side say to just sign it and turn the other way and get the money. There are many of us on this side of the House who are not prepared to sell our soul for that kind of activity and there are many in this country who are also not willing to sign an attestation that is diametrically opposite to their fundamental world view.
    Mr. Speaker, of all things, the government is calling this a values test. If the Liberals want to perform a values test, they should talk to the Prime Minister before he goes away on a family vacation to India. A values test imposes on a person's legal thought and values. There is a box that has to be checked, and if the answer does not agree with the Prime Minister's opinion, the organization or whomever will not get any funding.
    Small businesses in my riding, not-for-profit organizations, charitable organizations, and their employees and volunteers all pay taxes. However, because they do not believe or think like the Prime Minister, their taxes are not eligible for public funding. Is that fair?
    Mr. Speaker, there is no question about the unfairness. It is a totalitarian action to force groups to agree with the ideological position of the government.
    In my riding, over the last 12 years, there are probably hundreds of groups, organizations, and small businesses that have benefited from this funding and they would continue to benefit. This year many of them have signed the application without signing the attestation. According to what we are hearing, they will be rejected. They are the ones who drew my attention to the fact that there was such a thing. They came to me. Many of them, even after reading the full application along with the attestation, are not going to bother to apply. That is the bigger shame. We are going to lose out on the projects and activities, the good work these community groups do in our communities. Probably thousands of summer students will be without that work experience to equip them to go on to a more permanent job. It is a sad day.

  (1320)  

    Mr. Speaker, I wish to inform you that I will be splitting my time with the member for Cambridge.
    It is a privilege to rise in this House and speak about Canada summer jobs and our government's commitment to quality youth employment in this country.
    In fact, it is youth that inspired me to enter politics. I looked at my daughter and her friends, and the future that they aspired to, and felt that I could make a difference in the lives of these young girls as well as young girls across Canada. I am sure all members of this House would agree that the Canada summer jobs program is an important part of how government helps young Canadians gain important job experience, which ultimately helps grow our economy and our middle class.
    The program is very well received by both employers and students in my riding of Fundy Royal. In fact, I am so impressed by the number of organizations and small businesses that embrace this opportunity to offer students that valuable experience while also benefiting from more hands on deck during peak times. I thank these organizations for their commitment and contribution to our communities.
    Unfortunately, we have had concerns raised by Canadians about funding going to organizations that actively undermine the rights of Canadians, meaning that we had youth undertaking activities funded by the government, that worked against the rights of women and LGBTQ2 communities, for example. It is these concerns that spurred our government to take action. That action was to make changes to the Canada summer jobs application process, changes to ensure that a young person in a job funded by the government would work in an environment that respects the rights of all Canadians, including women and the LGBTQ2 community, and that funded organizations realize their responsibility as employers to provide this environment.
    In contrast, we know the Leader of the Opposition, the member for Regina—Qu'Appelle, has a long-standing relationship with the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform, an organization that fights against a woman's right to choose. Nine months ago, during his leadership campaign, he spoke with the Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform's director of communications, Jonathon Van Maren, who said, “Like most of you, I’ve known who my top choices are for months...Scheer actually is pro-life and has a record to prove it.” He knew this because the Leader of the Opposition told the centre, “I have always voted in favour of pro-life legislation. I voted according to my conscience every time. I spoke out when Henry Morgentaler received the Order of Canada.”
    With the support of the Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform having been so critical to the leadership victory, it is not difficult to understand why the Leader of the Opposition has a vested interested in continuing to ensure that the centre can continue to rely on taxpayer funds to promote this anti-abortion agenda. This lack of respect for the rights of Canadians is not new, or from just the leader. In fact, in 2005, the former member for Fundy Royal, Rob Moore, put forth a private member's bill, an act to confirm the definition of marriage. He said:
     There is now a great concern in Canada that if same sex marriage is legalized, it will have a profound and long-lasting implication for freedom of religion and freedom of conscience, and it will become increasingly difficult for people who do not agree with same sex marriage to participate in public life.
    That is not what we stand for.
     The Canada summer jobs program is an important part of our government's youth employment strategy. We must ensure that funding from this program is not used to undermine individual human rights. Simply put, Canadians expect us to make sure that Canada summer jobs funding respects the hard-earned rights of all Canadians.
    Our youth employment strategy is the Government of Canada's commitment to help Canada's newest workers get a strong start to their careers. We need to take a whole-of-government approach when it comes to administering this strategy. In fact, the youth employment strategy is delivered by 11 federal departments and agencies across government. It helps Canadians between the ages of 15 and 30 obtain the information, and develop the job skills, abilities, and experience they need to get quality jobs.
     Since 2005, the strategy has helped more than 900,000 young Canadians get the skills, competences, and experience they need to get those quality jobs, something we can all be proud of. This important strategy has three complementary programs; first, skills link; second, career focus; and third, summer work experience, which is part of the Canada summer jobs program.
     The skills link stream helps vulnerable and underrepresented youth, facing barriers to employment, develop the skills they need to find a job or to go back to school. With skills link, we are focusing on single parents, youth with disabilities, indigenous youth, young newcomers, and youth in rural and remote areas.
    Career focus is our second stream, and it helps post-secondary graduates find work through paid internships. This important stream provides youth with the information and experience they need to make informed career decisions, find a job, or pursue advanced studies.

  (1325)  

    The third component is a summer work experience stream, which includes Canada summer jobs. It offers subsidies to employers to create summer jobs for high school and post-secondary students.
    Taken together, these three streams form the core of our youth employment strategy. This important strategy is helping youth get the much needed employment, while helping meet the changing needs of a new and increasingly globalized economy.
    That is why each year we have invested over $330 million into this strategy. Investments in our last two budgets will help more than 33,000 vulnerable youths, create 15,000 new green jobs for youth, and provide more than 1,600 jobs for youth which focus on Canadian heritage.
    Since 2016, we have created up to 35,000 additional summer jobs for youth every year. In 2017, Canada summer jobs doubled the number of jobs created in 2015. To further expand the strategy, our government committed to providing an additional $395 million in our 2017 budget. In budget 2018, our government proposed to provide an additional $448.5 million over five years to the strategy, starting in 2018-2019.
    This funding will support the continued doubling of the number of job placements funded under the Canada summer jobs program in the 2019-2020 years, and provide additional resources for a modernized youth employment strategy in the following years, building on the input of an expert panel on youth employment. A renewed youth employment strategy will be announced over the course of this year.
    That is how much importance we place on this program, because we know Canada summer jobs is critical to ensuring Canada's youth across the country have an opportunity to gain valuable work experience. That is what this program is about, job experience for youth.
    As I have said, our government is focused on ensuring all government funding respects the rights of Canadians, especially women and the LGBTQ2 community who fought hard for those rights. These changes we made to Canada summer jobs will ensure we avoid any funding going to organizations that actively undermine those rights. We asked organizations this year to confirm that both the job and the organization's core mandate respect individual human rights and labour laws, and that they do not support discriminatory activities.
    As our government has already stated, the changes we have made to the program are not about excluding faith-based groups. Religious and faith-based groups often undertake work that focuses on helping those most in need in our society, which is exactly what we have welcomed and encouraged for organizations throughout Fundy Royal, as they have done in the past. We value their contribution.
    We are committed to the continued support of the Canada summer jobs program that funds jobs that respect the rights of all Canadians. The changes we have made to the program will help ensure a young person in a job funded by the government will work in an environment that respects every Canadian's human rights.
    This is the right thing to do to make sure that Canada summer jobs is not used to pursue the removal or undermining of established individual human rights in Canada. These changes have strengthened our Canada summer jobs program, as well as our employment youth strategy.
    Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to my colleague's presentation, and to be quite frank, I was very disappointed in the way she painted with such a broad brush the faith-based communities as being opposed to basic human rights, and the issues around the attestation.
    I remind her that the right to freedom of belief and opinion is guaranteed by Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Most Canadians should be very concerned with the direction the government is going in basing funding decisions on whether someone holds a certain belief.
    I would like to talk about an organization with which the people in Alberta and across the country are quite familiar. I am receiving hundreds of letters from my constituents, for example, Catholic churches, Protestant churches, and other churches saying they typically have summer programs, and now cannot hire anyone because they cannot affirm the attestation.
    The Mustard Seed in Calgary ministers to tens of thousands of Albertans, vulnerable and homeless people, and typically has accessed this program to allow young people to see the plight of homelessness and feed them. However, it is saying it is not going to get pushed into the government's attestation, and the fact that it wants to take it from a neutral position into an affirmative position on certain issues it has never taken a position on before. Consequently, many young people are not going to be able to serve.
    With all due respect, what is next? We are doing this on Canada summer jobs. If we do not line up exactly the way the government sees, which program will be next?

  (1330)  

    Mr. Speaker, as I have seen with other issues in the past, often the words that are so offensive to groups do not come from our side of the House. We did not talk about a broad-based approach to faith groups. In fact, many of us have reached out to the faith groups in our communities to thank them for the good work they are doing in our communities, and encourage them to apply.
    I would also like to take this opportunity to read the actual attestation, because nowhere in it does it talk about beliefs or values.
    CSJ applicants will be required to 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.
    This is not a values test. This is the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
    Mr. Speaker, I have been part of the student summer job program for the 10 years I have been here, and every year I sit down, and go through the list that the bureaucracy makes up for me. I go through it, and wonder if it meets the requirements, and there is a point system that decides who gets the cash. We may adjust it to make sure we share the program with as many community-based organizations as possible, so that everybody has a chance to take advantage of this program.
    This year I will not participate, because this year a lot of the groups that were on that list, a lot of community organizations, small towns, and villages will not apply, because they will not sign the attestation. This is ridiculous.
    When will the Liberal government come to its senses and realize what it is doing is absolutely wrong?
    Mr. Speaker, I find it unfortunate that my colleague has decided not to participate in this program. In the past, I have taken considerable time to look at the organizations in my riding that are doing very valuable work. As members of Parliament we have a very intimate relationship with many of these organizations, and know exactly the good work they are doing. I find it unfortunate that the member is not taking a leadership role, and ensuring the students in his riding have the best quality job experience that they can this summer.
    Mr. Speaker, before I get into my remarks, I would like to take the opportunity to thank the member for Elgin—Middlesex—London on a bit of a personal note. She is bringing this forward as the opposition motion today, but she is also the member of Parliament for my in-laws, Pat and Allan Alward. Allan, as she knows, recently suffered a stroke. If the member was able to thank the staff, nurses, and doctors, at the St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital, my family and I would really appreciate it and thank her.
    Mr. Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to provide our government's perspective on an issue that is at the heart of our employment objectives for the young people of our country, the issue of access and respect in the workplace. Canada summer jobs has been a very successful Government of Canada program that has offered thousands of youth job opportunities since it was first created. The program has been reaching its objective to give young people the opportunity to acquire work and life experience while supporting community-based initiatives. These are simple objectives. The spirit of the program is to open doors for young people, and perhaps help them make choices as they prepare for employment. In this context, the organizations that provide quality employment to young people through the Canada summer jobs program are as varied as the economic sectors in the country.
    The CSJ program provides funding to non-profit organizations, public sector employers, and small businesses with 50 or fewer employees. The range of activities is therefore almost unlimited. There are a number of eligibility criteria that employees must meet, but there is one key requirement underlying that eligibility, and that is respect.
    We have been clear and vocal enough about our basic values over the past two years. They are values like inclusion, compassion, and respect. We have been trying to integrate those values into our policies and programs, like the progressive trade agenda and the inclusion of human factors in environmental assessments. This year, the Canada summer jobs program includes an element whereby applicants are required to 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.
    While there has been some representation on behalf of some groups and persons who have been critical of the evaluation criteria, we know it is our duty to preserve our values and to make sure our programs respect individual human rights, including the values underlying the charter. These are the values of the people of Canada, and they 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.
    I have no qualms in promoting a measure that will prevent Government of Canada funding from flowing to organizations whose core mandates or projects may not respect individual human rights, the values underlying the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This measure will help prevent young people as young as 15 years of age from being exposed to employment with organizations that may promote positions that are contrary to the values enshrined in the charter. What we are in fact doing here is maintaining the full integrity of the CSJ and making it reflect the society we live in today.
    Our government is not the only one to think that way. Across Canada, people are supporting our approach. We received an open letter from the National Association of Women and the Law. This open letter was signed by over 80 major organizations across Canada. Organizations like Oxfam Canada and YWCA Canada signed the letter. Other signatories include organizations coming from the four corners of Canada. Let me name a few: Abortion Support Services Atlantic, Alberta Pro-Choice Coalition, Shelter House Thunder Bay, Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants, Saskatoon Sexual Health, and Positive Living North, just to name a few.
    Organizations helping youth from under-represented groups are supporting us. They include organizations such as the Network of Black Business & Professional Women, the Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity, as well as the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies.

  (1335)  

    Members are probably wondering what this open letter says. It says how supportive they are of this year's eligibility requirements for CSJ applicants. The association wrote, in black and white:
    Significant misinformation has been widely circulated in the media about the nature of the attestation that is now required by organizations that wish to apply for federal government grants for student jobs through the CSJ program. We are confident that the safeguards introduced to the CSJ program are not discriminatory, and do not represent any infringement on freedom of religion, conscience, or any other rights that people in Canada enjoy.
    This comes from an organization that promotes equal rights for women in Canada. This is an organization that has played a major role in reaching important milestones towards women's equality in Canada, such as the inclusion of sections 15 and 28 in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, amendments to sexual assault laws, positive changes to family law and to the Divorce Act, rape shield legislation, and criminal harassment legislation.
    Strong voices across Canada are being raised in support of this year's eligibility requirements for CSJ applicants. This display of support is just one example. There are many more supporters of the attestation that is now required by CSJ applicants.
    Canadians know how great the Canada summer jobs program is. The CSJ has brought significant benefits to a very large number of Canadians over the decades. The overall objectives of the program are unchanged. They are to provide work experience for students, to support organizations including those that provide important community services, and to recognize that local circumstances, community needs, and priorities vary widely. With this in mind, the Government of Canada seeks to ensure that youth job opportunities funded by the Canada summer jobs program take place in an environment that respects the rights of all Canadians.
    Is it too much to ask that a Government of Canada program respect the individual human rights and the values underlying the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms? That all seems reasonable for our government, as well as to major stakeholders, such as the National Association of Women and the Law. I hope that all members of the House will come to the same conclusion.
    On a personal note, this is a program that I have long been involved in, longer than I have been a member of Parliament. Being a former manager of the YMCA and the Boys and Girls Club, I have used this program to hire hundreds if not thousands of students over my time. I can tell the House that as a member of Parliament, I have taken advantage of the opportunity to go to not one or two, not just the YMCA, but literally every organization in my riding that uses this program. I have learned so much about my riding as a result. It is truly a remarkable program and I think that this will continue to be a great program as it evolves.
     I know the minister is doing a review on youth employment. I am sure there will be additional changes. However, we have to recognize the underlying issue here. We are forging ahead with our goal of strengthening the middle class and creating a level playing field where everyone has a chance to succeed. This is our vision and this is our commitment.

  (1340)  

    Mr. Speaker, the Liberal members have said that they thanked the faith-based groups, that there is significant misinformation, and that they are encouraging them to apply. Those who have applied have been turned down. They have called my office, and I am sure they have called his office, and all members' offices, saying that they could not sign the attestation. Some of them even amended the attestation, submitted, and resubmitted it. In each case, even though the Liberal members were encouraging them to apply and reapply, they were turned down. Why were they turned down? They could not agree with the Liberal philosophy that their core mandate must be a Liberal core mandate.
     Liberal members say that people should apply, but that they must “bow the knee”. That is objectionable and that is why this year many people who would have applied or would have qualified are going to be disqualified.
    Would the member agree that there are more people in Canada right now who are not going to have access to these jobs because of this new attestation requirement?
    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member opposite, my colleague on the human resources committee, for his question.
    I was one of those members of Parliament who reached out to all of the organizations in my riding, not just faith-based organizations but all of them. I do this every year. We go through the entire application.
    With what the member is proposing or suggesting, the only way an organization would have been approved last year and not approved this year is if they did not fill out the application. There is not a government program where one can pick and choose fields to apply to.
    If the organizations filled it out, if they checked that box, then they are going to be considered, as every other organization. There is nothing in that attestation that says “beliefs”. In the conversations I have had in my riding, the organizations that I have talked to, that I have had the opportunity to speak with and to explain to, understand that. They have applied. They have checked the box, and I would be more than happy to make sure they have funding.
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to let Canadians know something today. If they are looking for diversity and inclusiveness, on this side of the floor, I am pro-life and many of my colleagues are pro-choice. As well, there are differing perspectives on marriage and LGBTQ.
    We all work together. On this side of the floor, we are not hemmed in by a certain ideology of our leadership. I say to members on that side of the floor, “I know you are there, but you dare not speak.”
    I have people in my riding who have come to me and said that they are representing their rural municipalities, and they need this funding. It is good funding. However, they are being told that they have to indicate that they agree with this attestation, yet for employers in the province of Saskatchewan, labour laws do not allow them to put boxes on their forms that say if they want the funding, they should tick off that they are indigenous, or tick off that they are LGBTQ. That is against the labour laws.
    That just shows how convoluted this whole thing is, just to deal with an issue that the government will not come out and just deal with.

  (1345)  

    Mr. Speaker, I am not sure I heard a question there, but I will take the opportunity to talk about the fact that there is nothing in the attestation that talks about beliefs. It is not there. Show me where it says that this is an attack on beliefs in the attestation. It is simply not there.
    When I was talking with organizations that were concerned about this. First, they had not read it, and second, they were going by false claims in the media. Once I showed them the attestation, do you know what they said? They said, “Oh, that's fine.”
    Mr. Speaker, just for the purpose of clarification, could the hon. member describe the difference between belief and the purpose of the use, which I think is the core issue here.
    Mr. Speaker, again, there is nothing in the attestation that talks about belief. There is nothing in there that refers specifically to belief.
    The support information that the department provided explains that. It shows exactly what the issue is, and what we are trying to achieve with this attestation. There is nothing in there that says anything about beliefs.
    Again, this is spin in the media. It is spin by the opposition. The organizations that we have talked to love this program. They are going to apply for this program. Those that do not either do not understand the attestation, or it is a political move.
    Just for the benefit of all hon. members, this does come up from time to time, and I mean this as no criticism of the hon. member for Cambridge's inquiry about the fact that there was not a question. In fact, members are free to pose a question in that period, but they can also make a comment as well. It is not just the hon. member for Cambridge. This does come up from time to time. This is just to let hon. members know that they are free to do either.
    Resuming debate, the hon. member for Calgary Forest Lawn.
    Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with my great colleague from Milton.
    The last Liberal member of Parliament said that he loves this program, that he has worked longer on this program than he has been a member of Parliament, and that he has been out there promoting this program. May I remind him that it was the Conservatives who were the Government of Canada two years ago? As a matter of fact, we were the Government of Canada for 10 years. At the time when he was promoting this program, he had no problem with it, but today we are debating this issue in the House.
    This program has been very well accepted right across this country. As a member of Parliament for 20 years, I have used this program to ensure its objectives, as has been mentioned in the House. What is the primary objective? It is jobs for children and helping organizations when they need extra workers. That is the primary reason.
    There are multiple organizations in this country, as is guaranteed by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Let us quote what the Prime Minister said, “a Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian”. By the way, I said it before he did. We cannot choose which Canadian is right and which Canadian is wrong. This is the problem with the Canada summer jobs program.
    For the first time in my riding, I have received letters that complain about what the government wants to do with this program. It is a very successful non-partisan program helping Canadian children and employers, and yet for the first time, under this government, we are now having a division on this great program.
    Today, many Canadians are upset. As my colleague from Saskatchewan just said, she has received a lot of letters from people saying they have been denied. On the basis of what were they denied? They were denied on the basis of an idea that the Prime Minister had. It was his social agenda idea. Why is he imposing his social agenda on Canadians? All Canadians have the rights the charter gives them, faith-based or whatever. They are all entitled to Government of Canada programs, which should not be based upon the ideology of a leader or anyone. The government should enable every Canadian to access those programs. It is Canadians' right to access government programs.
    Why are we changing this now? Everyone has said that this is a great program that has benefited everyone. We should not be debating this, but we are debating it here today because one person has a social agenda and wants this country to move in that direction. That is not going to happen, because Canadians are very concerned about their fundamental rights and whether this infringes upon them or not.
    The fundamental point is that it is Canadians' right to access government programs. It is not the right of the government to choose winners and losers. Hon. members of Parliament, including me, have a history of how this program has worked so well for young people and for businesses.
    Let me give an example from my riding. The Mustard Seed is a great organization that looks after homeless people. This is its mandate. However, under the current government, The Mustard Seed will not be able to apply. Is this not wrong? An organization is looking after 10,000 homeless, impoverished, and drug-addicted people, and the government would not give them money because of its social ideology. That is wrong.

  (1350)  

    Let me talk about another one, the New Canadian Friendship Centre in Calgary. It provides free classes and support for new Canadians, regardless of culture, faith, and gender. It does not discriminate. It is open to all newcomers. It does not matter what their faith or religion is, yet the government is discriminating against it. While the friendship centre is not discriminating against anybody, the government is discriminating against it by not approving its application on the basis that it does not meet the government's social agenda.
    Let me remind the Liberals, when they talk about the Government of Canada, that this is not the Government of Canada but the Liberal government, because we were the Government of Canada two years ago, for 10 years, running this program. Let us be very clear. This is a Liberal agenda, not a Government of Canada agenda. The Liberals are pushing their own values onto people in Canada who may or may not agree, which should not matter.
    These organizations are out there to provide services to all Canadians, as the last speaker said. He brought up the YMCA. I am very happy he talked about that. The YMCA is very good. So is The Mustard Seed society. So is the friendship centre. All of these organizations are there for the primary purpose of helping Canadians who need that service. The government has chosen to allow only those people who follow its social agenda to get Government of Canada money, which is fundamentally wrong. It is very interesting that the Liberals say they want to have them sign the Charter of Rights. The Charter of Rights also gives them the right to access this money. They are taking some organizations right away, and asking others to sign.
    My colleague from Saskatchewan said that she has received multiple letters, as have many of my colleagues on this side, from people who used to get this money and are now being denied. Why are they being denied? Has their mandate to provide services to Canadians changed? No, it has not. The Liberals have changed the mandate of eligibility to meet their social agenda.
     There is something fundamentally wrong with this system. It is fundamentally wrong that Canadians cannot access a Government of Canada program that should be open to everyone who can meet the criteria that were always there, without changing them, so that they can meet the objective of this program, which is providing services to Canadians. It is a bit much for the government to come here and for the Liberal members to stand up and talk about how great this program is, how nothing has happened, and try to defend it. When they try to defend it here, we can see that they are reading their points.
     Let us talk about the basics. A program that has already been successful is now being changed. Now what do we have? We have a debate. Why did they bring this division? Was this division necessary for student summer jobs, for organizations that provide services? We do not need this division in politics here. The Liberal government, with its divisive politics, is sending the wrong message to all Canadians. On this side of the House, we will stand up and speak on what is right for all Canadians. We will not let the Liberal government get away with bringing its agenda into this.

  (1355)  

    Mr. Speaker, the member really has a misunderstanding of the reality of the situation. It is not about values and beliefs. It is about activities. I can appreciate the concern the Conservatives have, based on some of the previous actions and comments from the leader of the official opposition, who is being held to account in many different ways with respect to what his beliefs are, for example in terms of a woman's right to choose. It is important for us to recognize how it is that the Conservative opposition is being motivated to say the types of things it is saying.
    It is about the activities. I would question any and all members as to whether they have a problem with government dollars being used to hire students, for example, to go door to door handing out abortion leaflets. That is what it is about, the activities.
    My question for the member is this. Why does he not encourage the wonderful groups that promote and hire for student camps, many of which the Conservatives seem to want to discourage from entering that process? Why not promote the student program? It is a good program.
    Mr. Speaker, I love this member. He likes to ask questions. He somehow just keeps twisting everything to fit into his ideal world.
    The member is talking about activities. Let me ask him, what is wrong with the activity of The Mustard Seed society? What is wrong with the activity of the New Canadian Friendship Centre, which is meeting newcomers?
    I would also tell the member that when he was not in government but sitting on this side here, he had no problem with this program. Today, he has a problem. Where did he get this nonsense he is talking about that we are going out handing out brochures for the organizations? Did he not listen to the last member who spoke from our side? He was not sitting in his chair. She said that she is pro-life and others are pro-choice. I do not know what he is talking about here.

  (1400)  

    There will be two and a half minutes remaining in the time for questions and comments with the hon. member for Calgary Forest Lawn when the House next gets back to debate on the question.

STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS

[Statements by Members]

[Translation]

Prime Minister's Trip to India

    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister and 19 of his colleagues spent a lovely break week in India complete with costumes, music, and dancing. It was quite the production. The Prime Minister certainly embarrassed us, but what is even more upsetting is that he undermined Quebec's potential economic development.
    In the space of a week, the Prime Minister found a way to insult millions of Quebec sovereignists by comparing them to terrorists, as reported by the Punjabi government. Then he found a way to insult the Punjabi government by accusing it of lying. He also insulted the Indian government twice over, once by inviting a Sikh terrorist to join his delegation and again by accusing it of plotting to sneak said terrorist into the Canadian delegation. I hope everyone realizes what a mess he has made.
    The Prime Minister sabotaged every aspect of our relationship with a country that is on track to become the world's fifth-largest economy. This is a diplomatic disaster that could cost Quebec businesses dearly.

Thirtieth Anniversary of Sumgait Tragedy

    Mr. Speaker, yesterday marked the 30th anniversary of the Sumgait tragedy, which occurred in February 1988 in Azerbaijan. This was a time marked by serious acts of violence, riots, and widespread looting during which Armenian civilians were attacked and killed. This unprecedented violence shocked the entire world.
    Thirty years later, Armenians are commemorating these tragic events in which many lost their lives. This anniversary reminds us of what a privilege it is to live in a country where diversity and inclusion make us strong and where various ethnic and religious communities can participate equally in our country's political life. This anniversary also reminds us that, as Canadians, we have a duty to condemn all acts of violence and to play an active role in promoting and preserving peace in Canada and around the world.

[English]

Home and Garden Shows

    Mr. Speaker, members may have noticed that there is a hint of spring in the air this week. In Dufferin—Caledon, that is a sign that our local home shows are right around the corner.
     In both Caledon and Orangeville, our home shows offer local businesses the opportunity to showcase their products and services to constituents thinking about sprucing things up this spring.
    In Orangeville, the 2018 Lions Home & Garden Show runs at the Orangeville Fairgrounds on April 6, April 7, and April 8. Over 200 booths will be showcasing everything to do with home improvement, lawn and garden, and more.
    In Caledon, the Chamber of Commerce's Spring Home Show 2018 runs at the Albion Bolton Community Centre on April 20, April 21, and April 22. The show is a “shop local” experience, where constituents can find great deals on items related to their home and garden living.
    I encourage all residents of Dufferin—Caledon to come check out the Orangeville and Caledon home shows in April.

[Translation]

Fraud Prevention Month

    Mr. Speaker, March is Fraud Prevention Month. Throughout the month, there will be initiatives to make consumers aware of white collar crime and to remind Canadians that financial crime costs $5 billion a year.
    My thoughts go out to the victims of fraud, identity theft, stock manipulation, corruption, counterfeiting, and other financial crimes. Over the past year, I have met some wonderful people who are working on the front lines to combat white collar crime.
    I humbly thank my friends at the Competition Bureau, the Ontario Provincial Police, the Institute for Research on Public Policy, Revenue Canada, the Canadian Bar Association, and the RCMP for their work and collaboration.
    I strongly urge all of my colleagues to join me in making Canadians aware of the need to be informed so that they can better detect, counter, and report fraud.

[English]

Pharmacare

    Mr. Speaker, Canadians should not have to worry about draining their savings or remortgaging their home for the sake of their health. That is why the Canadian government should fight to protect and expand health care in Canada.
    Unfortunately, the Liberals are letting us down on both counts. They failed to protect medicare when they held the provinces to Stephen Harper's miserly funding plan. When Saskatchewan violated the Canada Health Act by allowing private clinics to charge for insured services, they made a little noise for show and then looked the other way.
    Recently the Liberals had a tepid announcement about pharmacare, but the finance minister is already backpedalling on the promise. Once again, conflict of interest concerns swirl around the finance minister, as Morneau Shepell does big business consulting on private benefit plans. That is why the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions have called for him to retract his statements and recuse himself from the work of the national advisory council on pharmacare.
    For too long, those who would make their fortunes on the backs of sick Canadians have held up progress on a pharmacare plan. I urge the finance minister to take the advice of Canada's nurses, and for the government to get going on a real universal pharmacare plan.

  (1405)  

Status of Women

    Mr. Speaker, for over a century on International Women's Day, we have made pledges and given flowers. It is not enough. Internationally, we need leadership to fully implement the Women, Peace and Security agenda and to fight against gender inequality and gender-based violence. Canada's new national action plan is our response, and UN resolution 1325 our commitment.
    Around the world, women and girls are strong survivors of horrific conflicts in which they are targeted. I call on all of us to stand with Yazidi, Rohingya, and Sudanese women. It is why I introduced Motion No. 163, calling for a women, peace, and security ambassador. Let us proactively institute programs that inspire participation of women in peacekeeping and for the prevention of conflict and gender-based violence.
     In partnership with our strong Canadian feminist movement, budget 2018 committed $2 billion to advance gender equality and peace around the world. I call on all members to support Motion No. 163.

Canada Summer Jobs Program

    Mr. Speaker, actions have consequences, something the Liberal government seems to have forgotten. Take, for example, the Liberal implementation of an ideological litmus test for the Canada summer jobs program. The requirement that applicants support the Liberal Party position on hot-button social issues actually hurts Canadian children.
     “Which children?” one may ask. How about the children in 24 aboriginal reserves across western Canada whose 5-day clubs have been historically funded through the Canada summer jobs program? These children, some of whom come from difficult family situations, were able to benefit from a summer program that cared about their needs and brought a little joy to their lives for part of their summer. However, because the sponsoring organization, Child Evangelism Fellowship, does not subscribe to Liberal values it is ineligible to apply for funding.
    Child Evangelism Fellowship cares about these children on these reserves. If the Liberal Party also cared about them, it would drop the silly, irrelevant, ideological litmus test for the Canada summer jobs program so more children could be helped by these clubs.

360°kids

    Mr. Speaker, this past Wednesday I had the privilege of announcing our government's support for 360°kids' every bike matters program. This $800,000 program brought our government's long-standing investment in 360°kids to $3 million.
     Based in Richmond Hill, 360°kids addresses the needs of youth at risk from all angles, surrounding kids in crisis with much-needed care. Only by applying a holistic support system can we do our part to help those youth most at risk.
    Tonight, for the fourth year in a row, I will participate in the 360°Experience, spending the night on the streets of York Region. This brief window into the reality facing our most vulnerable youth is an important perspective for any representative.
     I look forward to seeing 360°kids flourish and continue its work with Richmond Hill's most vulnerable, supported by a government that understands opportunities for youth and investment in our future.

International Women's Day

    Mr. Speaker, next week we will celebrate International Women's Day. It is an opportunity for all Canadians to celebrate women's contributions to our country and the progress we have made toward achieving gender equality.
     This year's theme is #Myfeminism. It highlights the importance of our own actions to end gender bias, gender stereotypes, and all forms of gender-based violence. It reminds us we can each be inspirational role models, especially for young people, and be part of the solution to creating a diverse, respectful, inclusive society.
    I invite all Canadians to join this conversation by using the #MyFeminism and describe what feminism means to them and share inspiring stories of how their friends, families, and communities are advancing equality.
     I would also like to welcome the students from the University of Toronto's women in the House program, in particular my shadow, Enza Gurgis. I hope some of them will be in the House some day.

  (1410)  

    I remind the hon. member for Winnipeg South and other members that only the Speaker draws attention to people who are in the galleries.
    The hon. member for Chatham-Kent—Leamington.

Chatham Hope Haven

    Mr. Speaker, last week I had the pleasure of attending the grand opening of the Chatham Hope Haven shelter for homeless men. It is not just a safe place to sleep; it is where staff and volunteers are able to help homeless men re-enter society and change lives for the better.
     After two years of renovations, the doors are open and overnight services are now available to homeless men in Chatham-Kent—Leamington.
    The director of Hope Haven, Joe Simpson, took the time to thank the community and give special recognition to countless individuals who gave their time and money, including fundraising efforts by students from Indian Creek Road Public School, the Merlin legion, as well as monthly volunteer commitments from the Emmanuel Baptist Church youth group among other churches and organizations. Representatives of the Lions Club presented a cheque for $1,500 to the shelter.
     All in all, the shelter is a reflection of our community's love and commitment to help those most in need, with a warm meal, a warm bed, and a warm smile in a sometimes cold world.

Opioids

    Mr. Speaker, a constituent of mine recently lost her nephew to a fentanyl overdose. It is not the first loss our country or my community has faced because of the opioid crisis. If we do not keep working to change historic and failed drug policies, it will not be the last.
    In 2016, opioids killed almost 3,000 Canadians, and last year, over 4,000 Canadians. We need new solutions.
     We need to treat drug abuse as a health issue, expand harm reduction and treatment options, and remove the criminal sanction for low-level possession to stop stigmatizing the very people we want to save.
    I am proud that our government has expanded safe consumption sites and provided over $200 million in this year's budget to address the opioid crisis, including to improve access to treatment services, but we need to do more.
    Portugal has proven that a public health approach can reduce problematic drug use, HIV transmission rates, drug-related deaths, and significantly increase the number of people who seek treatment.
    We need to follow the evidence to save lives.

International Women's Day

    Mr. Speaker, I am calling on all feminists as International Women's Day is on March 8.

[Translation]

    We have made a lot of progress, but a lot of work remains to be done. This year's theme is #MyFeminism . It underscores the importance of our own actions in ending prejudice, stereotypes, and all forms of sexual violence.

[English]

    I am inspired by the women around me who are doing so much for gender equity in business, in the arts, and in sports, “Yeah Olympians”.
    This weekend, I was at ACTRA, Toronto's 75th anniversary awards. The president of the organization, Theresa Tova, brought everyone to their feet as allies against sexual harassment and in favour of gender equity. It was an inspiring moment.
    The Award of Excellence winner, Jennifer Podemski, exemplified standing up and making change.
    We can bring change together.

[Translation]

    Happy International Women's Day.

[English]

Canada-India Relations

    Mr. Speaker, let me take a moment today to tell the House why India matters.
    India is a vibrant democracy, projected to be the fifth largest economy in the world. By next year, it is projected to be the fastest growing economy in the world.
    Canada is home to 1.2 million Indo Canadians, the fourth largest diaspora in the western world. This diaspora has immensely contributed to enriching Canada's socio-economic fabric.
    Two prime minister visits and two governor general visits, of which I was part, cemented our solid relationship, based on trade, people-to-people ties, and, most important, on the world stage, shared values.
    The recent tourist visit by the Prime Minister to India, highlighted by immature diplomacy and Liberal electoral interests, has crash-landed this important relationship. It looks like a repeat of the former Liberal government's Canada-India ties.
    A strong relationship with our Commonwealth partner is in the best interests of Canada.

[Translation]

Great Big Crunch

    Mr. Speaker, today for the third year in a row I welcomed to Parliament Hill dozens of children and representatives from Food Secure Canada on the occasion of a wonderful event, the Great Big Crunch.
    Many have joined me in acknowledging the need to offer healthier food to our children. As we are currently developing a Canadian food policy and a healthy food strategy, we have to remember to put children at the centre of our considerations. Ensuring good health for our children today guarantees better health for all Canadians of tomorrow, and I am not just saying that from the point of view of a grandfather.
    I want to acknowledge the remarkable work of the Coalition for Healthy School Food and Food Secure Canada, which supports this cause and advances it every day. I invite all of my colleagues to bite into an apple with me and 300,000 children across the country as a symbol of our commitment to better nutrition.

  (1415)  

[English]

Kinder Morgan Pipeline

    Mr. Speaker, I have been in this place since 2011 speaking out against Kinder Morgan's plan to build a new bitumen pipeline from Edmonton to Burnaby.
     I have warned the Prime Minister that there will be dire consequences if he continues with his plan to ram this pipeline through communities and unceded first nations territories without consent. I have warned the natural resources minister that his threats to use the military against British Columbians will only serve to deepen the intensity of the opposition. Unfortunately, this is all coming true.
    A recent Insights West poll found 10% of British Columbians were willing to engage in civil disobedience to stop this pipeline. That is tens of thousands of people who are willing to be arrested to stop Kinder Morgan, and it is coming soon.
    In a few days, indigenous communities impacted by Kinder Morgan are beginning what they deem front-line resistance along the pipeline route and pledge to do “whatever it takes” to stop Kinder Morgan, including mass mobilization on March 10.
    It is madness for the government to continue with its support for this pipeline. I urge it to stop.

Beer Escalator Tax

    Mr. Speaker, over 46,000 Canadians signed a Beer Canada petition to remove the government's automatic escalator tax on beer. The Canadian beer industry supports 149,000 middle-class jobs, generates $5.7 billion in tax, and adds $13.6 billion to Canada's GDP.
    In a letter to the industry, the government calls this yearly escalator tax an inconsequential tax increase. Already, 47% of the price of beer in Canada is tax. Meanwhile, the United States federal government lowered its federal excise duty rates on beer, wine, and spirits as of April 1. The top federal excise duty rate on Canadian beer will be 90% higher than the top U.S. rate. Beer drinkers in Canada pay close to $20 a case in tax, while in the United States, beer drinkers pay about $2 in tax.
    To suggest that there is room to increase the Canadian beer tax rate even further is just not credible. When will the government stop adding tax increases on top of tax increases?

Women in House

    Mr. Speaker, as an alumni of the University of Toronto, it gives me enormous pleasure today to represent the non-partisan group, Women in House, who are taking part today in following our female MPs to address a very serious problem in this place, and that is the under-representation of women in this chamber.
    These individuals are going to have the opportunity to shadow different members of Parliament to learn about Ottawa, what a great place it is to work, and how they can serve Canadians by dealing with issues like gender equality. They will engage in mentoring and networking. Hopefully, some of them will return here as leaders.
    I want to particularly thank both Tina Park and the member for Toronto—St. Paul's, who are responsible for creating this important initiative to make sure we advance the important cause of having more women in the House.

ORAL QUESTIONS

[Oral Questions]

[English]

International Trade

    Mr. Speaker, earlier today President Trump announced new tariffs, both on steel and aluminum. Canada is the number one supplier of aluminum and steel to the United States.
    Can the Prime Minister update the House on whether or not he has confirmed with the President of the United States that Canada will be exempt from these tariffs?
    Mr. Speaker, as Canadians would expect, we are following the situation very carefully. Any tariffs or quota that would be imposed on our Canadian steel and aluminum industries would be unacceptable. Any such decision would have an impact on both sides of the border.
     Canadians can rest assured that we will always be there to defend our workers in our steel and aluminum industries across this country. We will stand firm for Canadian workers.

  (1420)  

Prime Minister's Trip to India

    Mr. Speaker, the national security adviser, in briefing the Canadian press on a trip to India, indicated that the Indian government sabotaged the Prime Minister's trip.
    When the Prime Minister defended this official in this House, he actually elevated that defence into an official statement of Canada. The Indian government has responded aggressively, saying that it is baseless and it is also unacceptable. This has been characterized as a serious rift in the relationship between Canada and India.
    What is the Prime Minister going to do to fix this diplomatic rift?
    Mr. Speaker, as we have been saying, this invitation should never have been sent. As soon as it came to our attention, it was withdrawn, and the MP in question has taken responsibility.
    Canada's national security agencies are non-partisan, and both highly competent and effective. We trust them to protect and promote Canada's security. They continue to do an excellent job in serving and protecting the interests of Canadians.
    Mr. Speaker, while I appreciate the response from the member, the reality is that we are far beyond invitations to any attempted murderers. Where we are right now is the reality that the Prime Minister is avoiding his responsibility, and as a result we are being laughed at, as a country, across the world.
    The former high commissioner of India to Canada likened the allegations by the Prime Minister of a sabotage conspiracy to something out of Harry Potter, calling it pure fiction. A foreign affairs expert on CBC said that the saga is a whodunit, Harry Potter, Alice in Wonderland scheme.
    This is a complete embarrassment. What is the Prime Minister doing to fix the mess he created?
    Mr. Speaker, we will always promote and defend the integrity of our public servants who accomplish incredible work.
    Unlike the previous government, we respect the non-partisan nature of the public service, especially those who serve in national security agencies. We trust that advice and the actions they take. All Canadians can be proud of their non-partisan work, which our national security agencies carry out on a daily basis.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, no one is talking about our public service, and no one is disparaging the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.
    What we are talking about is the Prime Minister's senior adviser, a person who works very closely with him as part of his duties.
    On Tuesday, the Prime Minister told the House that the presence of the terrorist Jaspal Atwal at events attended by the Canadian delegation in India was part of a conspiracy by members of the Indian government to sabotage his visit to India.
    My question is simple. Does the Prime Minister still believe in this conspiracy theory? If so, all he has to do is table the evidence in the House.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, as we have been saying, this invitation should never have been sent. As soon as it came to our attention, it was withdrawn, and the MP in question has taken responsibility.
    Canada's national security agencies are non-partisan, and both highly competent and effective. We trust them to protect and promote Canada's security. They continue to do an excellent job in serving and protecting the interests of Canadians.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, here is what India's Minister of External Affairs said:
     Let me categorically state that the Government of India, including the security agencies, had nothing to do with the presence of Jaspal Atwal [in India]. Any suggestion to the contrary is baseless and unacceptable.
    What a strongly-worded and extremely serious statement. Does the Prime Minister agree with it? If not, what has he done to prove otherwise?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, as we have said, whether in this case or in their everyday work, all the non-partisan security agencies do an exceptional job in the service of Canada's national interest.
    Canadians can be reassured that, beyond the partisan nature of the comments, the advice offered by these agencies is in no way contingent upon the ruling party. We respect our national security organizations and their public service, and Canada can be proud of all they do in the interest of Canadians.

  (1425)  

Health

    Mr. Speaker, Canadians are confused with the Liberals' promise around pharmacare. Not only is it unclear whether the Liberals will eventually, maybe one day, sometime in the future go ahead with a universal pharmacare program, but even more troubling, just one day after this big announcement, Canadians learned that the dice is already stacked. The Liberals plan to go forward with a means-tested system.
    Why is the government putting together this advisory council if it already knows what it wants to do?
    Mr. Speaker, we were very pleased to put forward a committee to take a look at how we can ensure that we deal with getting pharmaceutical products to all Canadians. We are going to look for expert advice to tell us how best to do this.
    We know that the goal of making sure every Canadian has access to pharmaceuticals is critically important. We also know that listening to experts is important, and that is exactly what we intend to do as we hear back from the advisory committee on how we can move forward.
    Mr. Speaker, what déjà vu. I clearly remember the promise around electoral reform.

[Translation]

    Three major organizations, including the Canadian Labour Congress, have asked that the minister recuse himself from discussions on the pharmacare program, not only to avoid another conflict of interest, but also to keep him from working against Canadians' interests by trying to influence the results of the consultation. Canadians need universal pharmacare now.
    Will the Prime Minister remove the Minister of Finance from the discussions, and can he assure us that the consultation is not just a stalling tactic?
    Mr. Speaker, we are proud to be looking into exactly what we need to do to make sure every Canadian gets the medication they need. We have decided to put forward an advisory committee to determine how we should proceed. This is very important for our government. We are going to listen to the experts.
    Mr. Speaker, another day, another conflict of interest. Once again, Morneau Shepell is involved. It is clear that they never intended to steal the NDP's idea for a comprehensive national pharmacare program. Instead, the Liberals want to sabotage this idea. Stealing our ideas would help people, but sabotaging our ideas never helps anyone.
    Why do the interests of Canadian families always come second to the interests of Morneau Shepell and the mega-wealthy?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, that is a bizarre question. We think that the idea of actually having experts help us to come forward with a way that we can get pharmaceuticals to all Canadians is important.
    I guess members opposite would have us not have experts involved. I can tell members what would happen if that were the case. We could have the NDP and the member for Carleton do the policy, because that way we would have no expertise at all.
    Mr. Speaker, we are also not going to wait another 21 years because of Liberal waiting.
    Liberals promised yet another study one day and then literally the next day admitted that they have no intention of ever bringing in universal pharmacare. The PBO says that Canadians would save over $4 billion per year. Hundreds of thousands of Canadians who cannot afford medication would be helped, and businesses would be helped by reducing costs. The only one not helped is Morneau Shepell. We need to act.
    The Prime Minister has not stolen the NDP plan; he has vandalized it. Why will the government not bring in real universal pharmacare now?
    Mr. Speaker, Canadians are proud of our publicly funded universal medicare system, one based on the individual's need and not the ability to pay, yet we recognize that there is certainly room for improvement.
     We have created a national advisory committee on the implementation of pharmacare with its mandate to study, evaluate, and ultimately bring recommendations to government on possible options. This initiative will build on the good work that has already been started by the HESA committee. We look forward to the report that we will be receiving next spring.

Prime Minister’s Trip to India

    Mr. Speaker, the member of Parliament for Surrey Centre is no longer the B.C. caucus chair. Whether he was fired or resigned is only known between the Prime Minister and himself, but what Canadians do know is that a Liberal MP has acknowledged to be the person who invited a convicted terrorist to the Prime Minister's Indian event. Why is the Prime Minister clinging to this preposterous theory that it was the Indian government? Why is the Liberal government levying unfounded attacks on our friend in India when one of its own caucus members has accepted responsibility?

  (1430)  

    Mr. Speaker, as we have been saying all along, this invitation should never have been sent. Once we were made aware of this individual's background, the invitation was rescinded. The member has apologized.
    We respect tremendously the non-partisan incredible work that the men and women do in our national security agencies every single day. We take their advice, and we act on it accordingly.
    Mr. Speaker, what we do know is that member, in 2010, said it was unfair for a cloud of suspicion to hang over a community. The Liberals are allowing a cloud of suspicion to hang over a country of over a billion people.
    We know the Indian government has said the conspiracy theory claims of thPrime Ministere are baseless. The Liberal MP for Surrey Centre has said the Indian conspiracy claims are not correct. Even the Prime Minister's friend, Jaspal Atwal, has called the Indian conspiracy claims a lie.
    To stop the diplomatic bleeding, will the Prime Minister retract his remarks?
    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has been pre-eminently clear in our trust for our non-partisan public service. We stand behind them, full force.
     I do remember in 2010, if the member wants to talk about that date, watching the cuts that happened to our security and intelligence infrastructure of hundreds of millions of dollars. I do remember in 2006, Justice O'Connor's inquiry which was ignored. I remember Iacobucci in 2008, ignored. Important flaws in our security infrastructure that were not fixed. We are fixing it.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, the answers are always the same. They are devoid of meaning. Let us take it slow.
    First, the Prime Minister believes that the Indian government plotted to undermine Canada-India relations. Second, he felt the need to punish one of his MPs for having invited terrorist Jaspal Atwal to the event organized by Canada's high commission in India.
    Does this mean that the member and the government are plotting to undermine Canada?
    Mr. Speaker, the same questions get the same answers. We have full confidence in the public service and in the work our public servants do every day. This is what the Prime Minister said, and this is still my answer.
    Mr. Speaker, if I understand correctly, the parliamentary secretary is saying that India manipulated the situation in order to create problems between Canada and India. This is what he is saying. If that is the case, he should submit some evidence, because India is saying the opposite.
    Does my colleague have any evidence to confirm that India actually did something to undermine Canada?
    Mr. Speaker, I totally reject the assertions made by the member opposite. The invitation was sent, and when we received information that there was a problem, the invitation was immediately rescinded. We have full confidence in the public service.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, we know two things. First, the Prime Minister believes the Indian government is responsible for a convicted terrorist embarrassing him on his trip. Second, the Liberal MP has been punished for inviting the convicted terrorist on the trip.
    For the Prime Minister, how can these two things both be true? When will the Prime Minister stop hiding the facts, and show us the evidence?
    Mr. Speaker, I know three things. First, when the individual in question was found out, and the information was there, the invitation was rescinded, and the member of Parliament apologized. Second, I know that this party always, in every way, makes sure that we respect our non-partisan, independent, phenomenal individuals who work within our public service. Third, I know the party opposite, the Conservatives when they were in power, did not.
    Mr. Speaker, Canadians want answers, because the Liberals are just making no sense.
     Why did the Surrey Centre MP apologize and resign his position as B.C. Liberal caucus chair, independently or otherwise, for something the Prime Minister himself said he believed the Indian government did?
    This is all as ridiculous, damaging, and disastrous as the trip was itself, and these Liberals should be ashamed.
    Mr. Speaker, I have answered the question very clearly. Once we found out that information, the individual's invitation was rescinded, and the member apologized, but I reject totally the assertion that was made about the trip.
    More than $1 billion was achieved in cross-border trade, more than 580,000 good middle-class jobs were created for Canadians, and important frameworks were established to continue our trade with India. It was important work we are going to continue to build on.

  (1435)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, when the Prime Minister spends a week in another country, people expect him to come back with a lot of good things to show for it, ideally.
    He has been back for almost a week now, and we still do not know what the purpose of the trip was. We need leaders who are 100% focused on Canadians' needs, not on themselves or on their party's interests.
    When will we find out the true purpose of the trip?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question.
     The Prime Minister of Canada's trip was about strengthening Canada's cultural and economic ties. We announced over $1 billion in bilateral investment. Thousands of jobs will be created in Canada.
    This was a follow-up to last November's trade mission. Prime Ministers are expected to bring home concrete results for workers and the economy. That is exactly what the Prime Minister did.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, this morning I wrote the Prime Minister asking him to provide parliamentarians with a security briefing over his allegations about the alleged interference by the government of India, and how alleged convicted assassin and Liberal insider Jaspal Atwal was given access to the Prime Minister's delegation. Those allegations made in Parliament did enormous damage to Canada's credibility and to the Prime Minister's credibility.
    Will the Prime Minister provide Parliament with the evidence in a briefing, or is this him using the Donald Trump damage control playbook of self-serving political Pinocchio-ism?
    Mr. Speaker, as I have said, and I will reiterate, the invitation sent was rescinded when the information found out was that the individual should never have received that invitation. The member in question has apologized, and we have full and total confidence in our national security infrastructure and the non-partisan advice they give us. That is advice we take very seriously and listen to in all instances.

[Translation]

Agriculture and Agri-Food

    Mr. Speaker, agriculture, agriculture, agriculture, agriculture. In just a few seconds, I have spoken more about agriculture than the Minister of Finance in his 40-minute speech on Tuesday.
    There is not a thing for dairy, egg, and poultry producers. There is no mention of managing the transportation crisis in western Canada. There is nothing on risk management. There was no mention of agriculture. The Minister of Agriculture was once again unable to rise and speak about agriculture.
    Why is the Liberal government ignoring farmers?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, the budget builds on budget 2017 that identifies agriculture as a key sector. We invested $150 million in the protein supercluster. We invested $100 million in agricultural science after millions were cut from the budget by the previous government. We invested $75 million to promote Canada's trade with China.
    We invested $350 million to make sure our dairy industry remains stable, and to make sure it stays on the—
    The hon. member for Prince Albert.
    Mr. Speaker, for farmers timing is everything. There is a specific time to plant, to spray, to harvest, and in most cases, winter is the time to deliver, when the roads are frozen, so they can carry the weight. In the next few weeks, road bans will go in effect, making it impossible for farmers to move their crop from farm to elevator. The clock is ticking. Farmers are in a cash flow crisis, and time is of the essence.
    When will the minister order the railways to do their job, and deliver this year's crop?
    Mr. Speaker, we know this is a serious situation. That is why we introduced Bill C-49 to establish a strong, reliable, and efficient grain transportation system for the long-term.
    The Minister of Transport and I have contacted CN to indicate how serious it is, and that it needs to move grain faster. I have spoken to grain farmers, and indicated to them that we are fully aware of the seriousness of the situation.

  (1440)  

    Mr. Speaker, the Liberals ignored our advice to pass a separate grain transportation bill. When they failed to extend an important provision like interswitching, the Liberals allowed for this grain backlog crisis. We have seen the worst railcar performances of the year, and the numbers are only getting worse.
    Yet, the Minister of Agriculture had the nerve yesterday to tell farmers that when it came to the backlog situation, “It's not real serious at this moment.” When will the Minister of Agriculture understand how serious this is, and start taking some action?
    Mr. Speaker, our government has proven time and time again that it is strongly committed to Canadian farmers and to the agriculture industry. Unlike the previous Harper government's band-aid solution with an expiry date, this government put forward a permanent and sustainable solution in Bill C-49 that would meet the long-term needs of farmers.
    The Western Grain Elevator Association said, “...this bill is a significant improvement over the existing legislation and is a positive step forward for the grain industry.”
    Mr. Speaker, the Liberals have to stop blaming others for their mismanagement on the grain backlog issue. They can take definitive action now to address the situation but they refuse. The ones suffering the consequences are Canadian grain farmers. In some areas, railcar performance was 6% last week, and it is only getting worse. Our reputation as a reliable grain exporter is tarnished, and yet the Minister of Agriculture cannot even stand up and defend Canadian farmers.
    How bad does this situation have to get before the Liberals stop defending the rail monopoly and start fighting for Canadian farmers?
    Mr. Speaker, both ministers are very well aware of the situation. In fact, both ministers had conversations with CN and CP about this issue. They have asked them for a plan. They need to see improvement on this issue. If there is not improvement, the ministers are willing to intervene. We are going to give the companies the first chance to improve this process.
    Do something now.
    I have to thank the hon. member for Foothills for apologizing for his short outburst there.
    The hon. member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot.

[Translation]

Health

    Mr. Speaker, this week the Liberals gave us hope that we would finally have a universal pharmacare program. However, 24 hours later, this false hope was shattered by the Minister of Finance, who revealed that coverage would not be universal, public, or free. Studies have made it clear and experts have already spoken about this. Establishing a national pharmacare plan would reduce inequality and ensure that Quebeckers do not have to pay for private insurance which is sometimes beyond their means.
    Why are the Liberals not taking action right now?
    Mr. Speaker, Canadians are proud of their universal health plan, which is publicly funded and based on need, not the ability to pay. However, this plan could be improved.
    We have created an advisory council on the implementation of national pharmacare. This committee is mandated to study and evaluate the options and to make recommendations to the government. It will continue the great work that the health committee started. We look forward to receiving its recommendations.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, “Many Canadians have limited prescription drug coverage, and 12% have no coverage at all. This situation is plainly inconsistent with the values upon which medicare is based. It is illogical to guarantee access to medical diagnosis, but not the treatment, nor does it make economic sense. Together with key partners, a new Liberal government will develop a national plan and timetable for introducing universal public coverage.”
     What am I quoting? It is from the 1997 Liberal platform. Liberals failed Canadians then. Why should we believe them now?
    The member for Vancouver Kingsway is of course an experienced member and knows that he is not allowed to use props in this place.
    The hon. Minister of Health.

  (1445)  

    Mr. Speaker, it is no surprise to hear the NDP try to implement an idea without a plan. We are moving forward with a plan. We have created a national advisory council on the implementation of a national pharmacare program. Its mandate is to study, to evaluate, and to bring recommendations to our government. I say “recommendations”, because we want to get this right. This initiative is going to build on the good work the health committee has done in the House. I am looking forward to hearing its recommendations in the spring of 2019.

Status of Women

    Mr. Speaker, next week, on International Women's Day, we will be reminded of the important role that women play in shaping our communities, both here in Canada and around the world. Although we have seen significant progress, there is still progress to be made in ensuring real gender equality.
    As we approach International Women's Day, could the parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Status of Women please tell the House how budget 2018 will contribute to helping close the gaps and ensuring women have real equal opportunities to succeed?
    Mr. Speaker, as we get set to celebrate the contributions and achievements of women on International Women's Day, I am pleased to say that our government is taking concrete actions toward gender equality by putting gender at the heart of decision-making by legislating gender-based analysis plus, recognizing the important role of Status of Women Canada by making it a full department, and investing $100 million for a strong, sustainable women's movement. When women succeed, we all succeed, and our economy succeeds.

[Translation]

Taxation

    Mr. Speaker, never has a government spent so much and achieved so little. That is the Liberal government's record, with the budget it presented this week. The worst part of the whole thing is that the deficit is $18 billion, three times more than they promised.
    We are not the only ones worried about this situation. The Liberal Premier of Quebec even said that in a period of economic growth, budgets should be balanced.
    With all due respect, here is my question for the Minister of Finance: since he claims to be so good at math, could he give us a number? When will we return to a balanced budget?
    Mr. Speaker, my advice to the member is that he go back to his riding and really look at what we have achieved. We have the highest growth rate in the G7. We have created 600,000 new jobs in the past two years. That is what we have achieved. Canadian families are in a very good situation.
    We decided to invest in Canadians, and we have achieved real results for people across the country. That is the right way to manage an economy.
    Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance is welcome to come visit the riding of Louis-Saint-Laurent whenever he wants. I would be only too delighted. The problem is that that was not my question. My question is very simple: when will we return to a balanced budget?
    Anyone who knows about economics knows that it makes no sense to run deficits when the economy is doing well. To wit, Sylvain Gilbert, a partner in the firm Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton, said that the Minister of Finance needs to pray that the Canadian economy stays healthy and that continuing to run deficits when the economy is doing well is a very dangerous game.
    I will ask my very simple question once again: when will we return to a balanced budget?
    Mr. Speaker, two years ago, there was a debate in this country: should we choose budget cuts and austerity, or should we make investments for Canadians? Canadians chose the right way to improve the economy and improve their lives. That is why we have been investing in our country and our families.
    Where are we now? Our economic growth rate is very high, and the debt-to-GDP ratio is falling every year. This is a great situation for Canadians.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, talk is cheap, except when the current finance minister does it. Then it is very expensive. He said the deficit would be just $6 billion this year. Instead, it is $18 billion. He said it would be balanced next year. Now that will not happen for another quarter-century.
    In fact, while he was delivering his budget speech, the national debt grew by $1.5 million. That is either too much spending or too much talking. Which is it?
    Mr. Speaker, I think we had a debate a couple of years ago in the country. We had to decide between cuts and austerity, or investments in Canadians. Let us consider the results. We have had the fastest growth in the G7 and the lowest unemployment in about 40 years.
    Therefore, in the face of these facts, this is incredible to me. It is only the Conservatives that would consider, with sheer incompetence, to go back to the Harper Conservative approach of austerity and cuts. We are making a difference for Canadians, growing the economy and getting them jobs.

  (1450)  

    Mr. Speaker, the finance minister is like the rooster who thinks he made the sun come up just because he crowed when the sun came up.
    In fact, he inherited temporary good fortune from oil prices that are up by 100%, a housing bubble in both Vancouver and Toronto, and massive household indebtedness, which has put our economy on a short-term sugar high. Why has the finance minister spent the cupboard bare in the short-term good times, leaving us so exposed to danger in the long-term future?
    I think colleagues would know that it is probably best for order in this place if they do not compare members to barnyard animals.
    The hon. Minister of Finance.
    Mr. Speaker, I hate to let facts get in the way of rhetoric, but perhaps we can consider what actually was the inheritance this government took from the previous government. It was unemployment rates at over 7%, and a situation where we had seen the lowest growth rate since the Great Depression.
     What has happened since then? With our approach of investing in Canada, we have the highest growth rate in the G7. We have the lowest unemployment rates we have seen in 40 years. Where are we now? We have a fiscally responsible approach to keep investing in the long term in the country, so this generation, the next generation, and future generations will be better off.

Rail Transportation

    Mr. Speaker, while the Prime Minister was travelling around the world with his chef in tow, the reality is that more and more Canadians are being left behind. People in Churchill are facing skyrocketing food prices. They are going hungry because of the policies and incompetence of the government that has led to the loss of the rail service.
    When will the Prime Minister recognize that his globetrotting selfies and his photo-op tours are doing nothing to help Canadians? When will he get to work to act on the real challenges that people in Churchill and across the country are facing today?
    Mr. Speaker, our government remains committed to the people of Churchill and northern Manitoba. We recognize the importance of that rail line for that community. We will continue to support the government's negotiator and the ongoing discussions with interested buyers, indigenous groups, and community leaders. We are optimistic we can make progress on this, and we need a sustainable business plan toward owning and operating that line.

Fisheries and Oceans

    Mr. Speaker, last week, the Wild Fish Conservancy released lab results showing 100% of escaped salmon tested were infected with the highly contagious virus, PRV. The Liberal rhetoric about strong regulations and environmental protection for salmon mean nothing. The burden of proof that PRV does not cause harm to wild salmon does not rest on the fish. The minister needs to act.
    When will the minister get these disease-ridden farms off the wild salmon migration route and on land?
    Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague knows very well that our government is deeply concerned about the state of the wild salmon populations in British Columbia. We have invested literally tens of millions of dollars in enhanced science, monitoring, and auditing processes to ensure the protection of wild Pacific salmon remains a priority for our government. It is something our Pacific caucus has talked to us about over and over again.
    We understand that there needs to be robust aquaculture regulations. We understand that conservation protection officers and increased monitoring is important, and we are going to work with the Government of British Columbia to ensure we have the toughest rules in place to protect this industry.
    Mr. Speaker, the fisheries minister has now had three days to reflect on a question I asked in the House earlier this week. I will ask again, and hope to actually get an answer this time.
    When the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans made a decision on the Arctic surf clam quota, a quota that is worth millions of dollars, was he aware that the beneficiary of his decision was the brother of a Liberal caucus colleague member?
    Mr. Speaker, when we made a decision to add a new entrant into this important commercial fishery, we knew that the most important people to benefit from this change were indigenous Canadians on the east coast of Canada and in the province of Quebec.
    The previous Conservative government had a process to add a new entrant to this fishery. It forgot to include indigenous people. We had an open, competitive process where seven bids were analyzed in detail, and we chose the one that offered the best economic opportunity for indigenous people, Atlantic Canadians, and Quebeckers.

  (1455)  

    Mr. Speaker, the minister and the Liberal government are completely out of touch with Canadians. By hand-picking winners and losers, the minister is jeopardizing middle-class jobs in Grand Bank and all across Newfoundland and Labrador. The mayor of Grand Bank has called this a devastating blow to his community.
    How can the minister justify this to the workers and their families, families whose livelihoods are at stake because of his decision?
    Mr. Speaker, we understand and we respect the concerns of the people of Grand Bank and the people who work in that processing facility. My colleague who represents that community in the House of Commons has spoken to me about this important issue. So has the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador.
    We are committed to ensuring that the facility in Grand Bank and the workers who earn their living at that important facility have the benefit of an economic opportunity that is sustainable and that is long term. We will continue to ensure that the economic opportunities in Grand Bank remain robust.
    However, that party was also planning to bring a new entrant into the fishery, and it did not seem concerned about Grand Bank then.

Indigenous Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, the chair of the First Nations Financial Management Board said last year that the need for housing and infrastructure is between $20 billion and $30 billion. Then he said:
     Where is all of that money going to come from...if we don't engage in business and economic development?
    The Liberals' response is tanker bans, drilling moratoriums, taxes, and increased red tape. Investment is fleeing and they have impeded the opportunity for investment.
    Why are the Liberals putting up so many roadblocks for indigenous economic prosperity?
    Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to answer this question and to talk about things like the housing investments that were made in our federal budget this week.
    We have investments of $500 million for Métis housing, $400 million for Inuit housing, and $200 million every single year for first nations housing. We are working with our partners on developing a distinctions-based housing strategy to make sure that we address these gaps, get jobs for people, and get people homes to live in.

[Translation]

Taxation

    Mr. Speaker, since coming to power, our government has made every effort to ensure that economic growth benefits the middle class. Although the majority of Canadians work hard and pay their taxes, we know that some wealthy individuals and businesses use tax strategies to avoid paying their fair share.
    Budget 2018 reiterates our government's commitment to fighting tax evasion and avoidance.
    Can the Minister of National Revenue inform the House of the new measures that make our tax system fairer?
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Lac-Saint-Jean for being a strong voice for the regions of Quebec.
    In the past two years, we have done quite a lot to fight those who avoid paying their fair share of taxes. In fact, the revised voluntary disclosures program goes into effect today in order to limit the abuse of its use by major accounting firms.
    Budget 2018 provides nearly $100 million in new investments. We also announced that we are closing tax loopholes used by multinationals. The net is tightening.

Public Services and Procurement

    Mr. Speaker, Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard is bitterly disappointed in budget 2018. The mayor of Lévis is disappointed as well, because there is nothing in the budget for Davie shipyard workers and subcontractors in Lévis. This is the shipyard that delivered the Asterix on time.
    When will the Prime Minister keep his word and start converting the four icebreakers, move forward with converting the Obelix, and include the Davie shipyard in Canada's national shipbuilding strategy?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for everything he is doing for workers at the Davie shipyard.
    Workers at the Davie shipyard did excellent work on the Asterix. We have needs beyond the icebreakers. We are working and negotiating with Davie to meet these needs. When we have made a decision, we will share it with everyone.

  (1500)  

Taxation

    Mr. Speaker, I do not know too many people who got a tax break in Tuesday's budget, except for major web giants such as Netflix—no taxes, a lovely little financial gift paid for by ordinary taxpayers. The government's only response to the Quebec consensus on taxing web giants is to conduct a five-year study and to talk about it with other G7 countries this summer. The government is going to look rather silly because all the other G7 countries are already charging sales tax.
    Will the government acknowledge that we must immediately adopt the solution used by almost every OECD country? That takes piecemeal agreements with multi-nationals.
    Mr. Speaker, we know that the media sector is facing many upheavals because consumer habits are changing. That is why we have made a commitment to modernize our policies so that they address digital issues. The Prime Minister has been very clear on the tax issue. We made a promise, and we are going to keep it. We acknowledge that over the longer term, we will have to develop a comprehensive solution to the issue of taxing digital platforms, and we are not going to take a piecemeal approach.

[English]

Indigenous Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, indigenous children comprise 7.7% of all Canadians under 15 years of age, yet they represent a whopping 52% of children in foster care in private homes. Indigenous and non-indigenous Canadians alike, including my constituents in St. John's East, are demanding that this ongoing injustice be addressed. Can the hon. Minister of Indigenous Services please update this House on what our government is doing to champion indigenous children's welfare?
    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for St. John's East for his advocacy on this issue. I hope that all members in this House were heartened to see that there are new investments in the order of $1.4 billion to support child and family services for indigenous families. This means that we will be able to achieve equity for first nations child and family services agencies. Even more than that, we will be able to support communities with prevention services, ensuring that children can be raised by their families, in their communities, surrounded by their language and culture. I hope we are all working hard to that end.

The Environment

    Oddly, Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change shared a video of herself celebrating with the Canada Parks and Wilderness Society, a group that is suing her government. However, when it comes to meeting with organizations that are uniquely positioned to protect caribou in the communities in which they live, the minister suddenly has no time. Can the minister confirm that she refused to meet with the Northwest Species at Risk Committee and the Alberta Forest Alliance?
    Mr. Speaker, in my job I am happy to meet with as many people as I can, as do my public servants and as does my political team.
     I was very pleased that we announced $1.3 billion for parks and protected areas in budget 2018. This is amazing for Canadians. This is amazing to tackle climate change. This is amazing for species at risk. It also demonstrates that the environment and the economy go together.

[Translation]

Interests of Quebec

    Mr. Speaker, Quebec's forests are infested with the spruce budworm and it seems like the federal government is doing everything it can to make matters worse. In 2014, the government gave twice as much money to New Brunswick as it did to Quebec to stop the infestation. The problem is that the spruce budworm does not recognize borders. The infested area in Quebec is larger than the entire province of New Brunswick. Our producers fare just as badly in the new budget: the government is giving $75 million to the Maritimes and not one cent to Quebec, not one cent.
    What exactly is it going to take for Quebec to get its share?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, we understand the critical importance of forestry to the economies of eastern and western Canada as a source of jobs, prosperity, and opportunity. We are acutely aware of the threat that forest pests like the mountain pine beetle, emerald ash borer, and spruce budworm pose to Canada's forests. In budget 2016, we invested $87 million to support scientific research and infrastructure, including funding to combat destructive forest pests such as the spruce budworm and the mountain pine beetle. We are working closely with provinces, universities, and industry, all with the common goal of finding a way to keep these pest populations low—
    The hon. member for Rivière-du-Nord.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, obviously, Quebeckers are ill-served by this government. Ottawa gave $225 million to help British Columbia when it had a similar problem in the past. This year, it allocated $25 million to the Maritimes but is giving Quebec absolutely nothing. Ottawa is doing nothing for forested areas the size of a province that are being ravaged by the infestation. It is doing nothing for forests that are becoming unusable and driving their owners into ruin.
    How can this government justify helping the other provinces with Quebeckers' money while completely ignoring Quebec?

  (1505)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, we are hardly ignoring the forest industry, including the forest industry in Quebec.
    We were very pleased to announce an $867-million softwood lumber package in response to the unwarranted countervail and anti-dumping duties of the United States. We continue to have very important conversations with the Government of Quebec, with the Minister of Forests in Quebec, working to make sure that our forests are protected not only for today but for tomorrow.
[Points of Order]

[English]

Points of Order

Oral Questions  

    Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I would like to apologize to all of my colleagues in the House for holding up a document, the 1997 Liberal platform. That is the wrong way to remind Canadians of the broken promises of the government.
    I would like to seek unanimous consent to table the 1997 Liberal election campaign platform, which promised Canadians universal pharmacare.
    Does the hon. member have unanimous consent?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    Some hon. members: No.

[Translation]

Royal Assent

[ Royal Assent]
     I have the honour to inform the House that a communication has been received as follows:
March 1st, 2018
Mr. Speaker,
    I have the honour to inform you that the Right Honourable Julie Payette, Governor General of Canada, signified royal assent by written declaration to the bills listed in the Schedule to this letter on the 1st day of March 2018, at 1:06 p.m.
    Yours sincerely,
Assunta Di Lorenzo

[English]

Business of the House

[Business of the House]
    Mr. Speaker, it has been a bit of a different schedule, because we have just been here for one week and then we will be going back to our ridings for another two weeks, which is going to be great. I hope the Prime Minister stays in his constituency, or at least stays here, so he does not embarrass us anymore or cause any diplomatic incidents.
    I am wondering if the government House leader could tell us what we will be doing for the rest of this week and then when we get back in two weeks.
    Mr. Speaker, I too look forward to having our two weeks in the riding.
    I can assure the hon. member and all Canadians that the Prime Minister and this government will always stay focused on the needs of Canadians.
    This afternoon, we will continue to debate the Conservative opposition day motion. Tomorrow the House will debate Bill C-69, the environmental assessment legislation, at second reading.

[Translation]

    When we return after two weeks in our ridings, we will have the last three days of budget debate on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.

Point of Order

Bill C-69—Speaker's Ruling  

[Speaker's Ruling]
     I am now prepared to rule on the point of order raised on February 27, 2018, by the hon. member for Berthier—Maskinongé concerning the second reading of Bill C-69, an act to enact the impact assessment act and the Canadian energy regulator act, to amend the Navigation Protection Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts, under the provisions of Standing Order 69.1.
    I would like to thank the hon. member for having raised this question, as well as the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons for his intervention on this point.

  (1510)  

[English]

    The hon. member argued that Bill C-69 is an omnibus bill, as she feels it contains several different initiatives which should be voted on separately. She noted that the bill would delete two existing acts, would enact new ones, and would amend over 30 other acts. The hon. member requested that the Chair divide the question at second reading to allow for a vote on each of the three main parts of the bill.
    Part 1 would enact the impact assessment act and repeal the existing Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.
    Part 2 would enact the Canadian energy regulator act as well as repeal the National Energy Board Act. The hon. member argued that this second part deals more with natural resources than with the environment and should therefore be voted upon separately.
    Part 3 consists of amendments to the Navigation Protection Act, which would be renamed the Canadian navigable waters act. As this deals with matters relating to transportation, she felt that this part should also be subject to a separate vote.

[Translation]

     The hon. member helpfully identified which of the consequential and coordinating provisions, contained in part 4, she believed were associated with each of the other parts. I am grateful for her specificity in this regard. I would note that these consequential and coordinating amendments represent the changes to the 30 other acts referenced by the hon. member. In the vast majority of cases, the changes are to reflect updated terminology relating to the names of new agencies or statutes created by the bill. The fact that there is a large number of them is not a significant factor in determining whether or not this constitutes an omnibus bill.

[English]

    The hon. parliamentary secretary to the government House leader agreed that the bill amends several acts, but argued that there is in fact a common element to link together all of the changes. He stated that the bill represents a comprehensive review of federal environmental and regulatory processes and that to consider them separately would create unnecessary uncertainty about the overall framework.
    As members will recall, Standing Order 69.1 took effect last September. It gives the Speaker the power to divide the question on the second or third reading of a bill where “there is not a common element connecting the various provisions or where unrelated matters are linked”. The critical question for the Chair, then, is to determine to what extent the various elements of the bill are linked.

[Translation]

    To date, I have been asked to apply this standing order on two instances. On November 7, 2017, I declined to allow multiple votes in relation to Bill C-56, an act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and the Abolition of Early Parole Act, as I felt the two issues raised by the bill were sufficiently related and that they were essentially provided for under the same act. On November 8, I agreed to apply the standing order in relation to Bill C-63, the Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2, as I considered that there were several issues contained in the bill that were not announced in the budget presentation. On November 20, in relation to Bill C-59, the national security act, 2017, I ruled that the standing order could not apply to a motion to refer a bill to committee before second reading, though I invited members to raise the issue again prior to third reading of the bill if necessary.
     I would underscore, as I did in my ruling on Bill C-63, that the Chair does not have the power to divide a bill into different pieces of legislation to be considered separately. The Standing Order only allows me to divide the question on the motions for second and third reading for the purposes of voting.

  (1515)  

[English]

    Bill C-69 does clearly contain several different initiatives. It establishes two new agencies, the impact assessment agency and the Canadian energy regulator, and makes a series of amendments to the Navigation Protection Act. One could make the case, as did the parliamentary secretary, that there is indeed a common thread connecting these various initiatives, in that they are all related to environmental protection. However, the question the Chair must ask itself is whether the purpose of the standing order was to deal only with matters that were obviously unrelated or whether it was to provide members with the opportunity to pronounce themselves on specific initiatives when a bill contains a variety of different measures.

[Translation]

    In presenting arguments relating to Bill C-63, the hon. member for Calgary Shepard raised an interesting concept from the practice in the Quebec National Assembly. Quoting from page 400 of Parliamentary Procedure in Québec, he stated: “The principle or principles contained in a bill must not be confused with the field it concerns. To frame the concept of principle in that way would prevent the division of most bills, because they apply to a specific field.”
    The principle or principles contained in a bill must not be confused with the field it concerns. To frame the concept of principle in that way would prevent the division of most bills, because they apply to a specific field.
    While their procedure for dividing bills is quite different from ours, the idea of distinguishing the principles of a bill from its field has stayed with me. While each bill is different and so too each case, I believe that Standing Order 69.1 can indeed be applied to a bill where all of the initiatives relate to a specific policy area, if those initiatives are sufficiently distinct to warrant a separate decision of the House.

[English]

    In this particular instance, I have no trouble agreeing that all of the measures contained in Bill C-69 relate to environmental protection. However, I believe there are distinct initiatives that are sufficiently unrelated that they warrant multiple votes. Therefore, I am prepared to allow more than one vote on the motion for second reading of the bill.
    As each of the first two parts of the bill does indeed enact a new act, I can see why the hon. member for Berthier—Maskinongé would like to see each one voted separately. However, my reading of the bill is that the regimes set out in part 1, the impact assessment act, and part 2, the Canadian energy regulator act, are linked in significant ways, reflected in the number of cross-references. For example, the impact assessment act provides for a process for assessing the impact of certain projects, but contains specific provisions for projects with activities regulated under the Canadian energy regulator act. There are also obligations in the Canadian energy regulator act that are subject to provisions in the impact assessment act. Given the multiple references in each of these parts to the entities and processes established by the other part, I believe it is in keeping with the Standing Order that these two parts be voted together.

[Translation]

     With respect to part 3, which amends the Navigation Protection Act, I find that it is sufficiently distinct and should be subject to a separate vote. While there are some references in part 2 to changes made in part 3, I do not believe they are so deeply intertwined as to require them to be considered together. There would be an opportunity to correct these references as part of the amending process if part 3 should not be adopted by the House.
    As I stated earlier, part 4 of the bill is made up of consequential and coordinating amendments arising out of the other 3 parts. In my ruling on Bill C-56, I recognized that the analysis and division of a bill into different parts can sometimes be quite complex. Based on my reading of part 4, which differs slightly from that of the hon. member for Berthier—Maskinongé, clauses 85, 186, 187, and 195 seem to be related to part 3 and will be voted with that part. The remaining clauses in part 4, with the exception of the coming into force clause, specifically 196, appear to relate only to parts 1 and 2 and will therefore be grouped with those parts. The schedule relates only to part 1 and will also be grouped with it.

Government Orders

[Business of Supply]

  (1520)  

[English]

Business of Supply

Opposition Motion—Canada Summer Jobs Program  

    The House resumed consideration of the motion.
    Mr. Speaker, I have a unique relationship with the Canada summer jobs program. In fact, it is probably a relationship that most other MPs have. I have a great attachment to it.
     When I first started to work at the Dairy Queen in Sidney, Nova Scotia, it was because of the fact that the company received a grant, as we used to call it. That allowed for some of the pay of the employee to be covered by the government. That got me started in the workforce. Ironically, 10 years later, when I went back to Sidney, after doing my first year of law in Osgoode University, I ended up, again, having my first law job come from the fact that it was a Canada summer job grant.
     I have always been appreciative of it, because I know how important it is for those who are looking for jobs in the summer, especially in areas like Cape Breton, which is severely unemployed. As a result, I have a great affection for the program and I am always very concerned about it.
    I also know these jobs and this program are incredibly important from the point of view as an employer. Employers get to have students come in and they have the ability to train new workers. They get to expand their business during the time they are having that little help with respect to what they pay somebody. Of course, it is incredibly important for not-for-profits to ensure they can cover off their duties and responsibilities.
    As an MP, I got to see just how important the program is to our communities.
     I reflected upon a number of the places that had received Canada summer jobs help and aid in the past, such is the Royal City Soccer Club, the Milton Youth Soccer Club, the YMCA, the John Howard Society of Peel, Halton and Dufferin, the Community Foundation of Halton North, Conservation Halton, the United Way Milton, and the Milton Chamber of Commerce. The list continues of companies and not-for-profits that are made up of good people, good work, and solid community builders.
     Therefore, I have been watching this issue of an attestation associated with the summer jobs program with great interest. I have read much about the issue. From what I can understand, in November 2017 the government was obliged to settle a lawsuit with three groups that were turned down summer job programs in the summer of 2017. They applied to the court saying that they did not know that one of the criteria upon which they were denied was the criterion they would have to attain. In fact, the court found that the criterion on which the denial was given was not listed in the application guide. We can assume it was this decision and this payout that caused the government to decide the attestation would be attached to the Canada summer jobs program.
     This is where I have great concern. It seems to me that this attestation was very arbitrary, incredibly unprecedented, and also quite odd. Therefore, I thought there must be something else in government legislation that could explain or maybe have something to do with the attestation.
     I went back and looked at my list. I decided to look at the places where I thought the individuals in charge would have a very difficult time ticking off the attestation box. As I went through the list and looked at these, I realized that a lot of them were churches and registered charitable organizations, like St. George and St. Abanoub Coptic Orthodox Church, True North Church, the Milton Bible Church, Tansley United Church, and the Milton Christian School.
    Then I got to thinking a little about charitable organizations in general, and I did a bit of digging. What I found extremely interesting was that there were general requirements for charitable registration. In fact, it is an incredibly complex and very difficult process for an entity to go through. There are many hoops. The application form is at least 15 pages long. The information that is gathered is deep and goes to the very core of what the organization is. All of this is reviewed by the Canada Revenue Agency, and a decision is given.

  (1525)  

    If a decision is given that an entity will not receive charitable registration status, it then has the ability to appeal this decision. It is treated in such a way that it knows how important it is.
    As I went through the requirements, I found it very interesting that the CRA officials would look at the charitable purposes and activities, at the public benefit for charities, at political activities of charities, at business activities, at operating through intermediaries, and also wanted to ensure that purposes and activities that were illegal in Canada or contrary to Canadian public policy were prohibited. They are very specific on that. They say that entities are not eligible for charitable status if they are taking activities that are contrary to Canadian public policy.
    I went back to the list and looked again to see what kinds of entities there were. They have gone through many different iterations, obviously, of ensuring they would receive charitable status. I began to wonder why this attestation would be baffling to me and I came up with two reasons.
    One, if the reason that the attestation is attached to the Canada summer jobs program, because officials want to ensure companies are adhering to Canadian public policy, why not have a more robust system rather than self-regulating tick off a box? They already do that with the CRA. It has been deemed already that in order to ensure an entity is onside with public policy to receive breaks from the Canadian government, it would have to go through an in-depth review of its activities and have a third party determine whether it was in adherence of Canadian public policy.
    The second thing that crossed my mind was this. If these entities have already passed this incredibly in-depth process and after writing everything they do as a charity and talking about public policy, and it has been determined that they are to be charitable organizations, why is that not enough for the Government of Canada to determine that they are in compliance with Canadian public policy? If a charity is registered, it has passed stringent tests and should be deemed to not be contrary to Canadian public policy. It is a very simple tick it can put on the Canada summer jobs program that accomplishes what the officials are seeking and at the same time alleviates the concerns that had been read into the House record today.
    Then I thought, maybe this attestation was not really about Canadian public policy. Maybe this is about creating a new definition of Canadian public policy and a new determination of what it represents, which has been ripped from the Liberal platform. I wondered whether this now would be determinative for charitable status.
    There is a registry on the Canada Revenue Agency. If we type in the search term “church”, there are 15,210 churches alone in Canada. That is just churches. Many others on the list that would not willingly want to sign or tick off the attestation that would also be on that list.
    The hon. member across the way just laughed when I indicated my concern was that the CRA would approach applying a more stringent public policy test to charitable organizations. He would be remiss to not remember that the CRA, in past experience, did make decisions without consulting ministers on the disability tax credit and also on the decision to ensure that taxes were taken from those who received any kind of compensation through breaks or discounts while they were on the job.
    We can absolutely have the problem where officials of the CRA take it upon themselves to determine that the new definition of Canadian public policy for the purposes of charitable organizations is the one that the government has slammed into the Canada summer jobs attestation. That is not good public policy. That is not the way this public policy should happen in our country. As a result, I am more than happy to stand here today and say that the attestation is ridiculous and offensive. If the Liberals want to change Canadian public policy, do it in an honourable way.

  (1530)  

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to share an experience. I worked as a high school chaplain for 20 years. There was more than one occasion when I went to school that there was a group of demonstrators outside the school holding pictures of aborted fetuses. As students went into the school, they had to look at those pictures. They had no choice. As a chaplain in the school, I then had a number of those students come to me. They were devastated at what they saw.
    I go back to this. The attestation is not about values and beliefs. I am a big believer in charitable work. The attestation is about activities. Our government is trying to get at the activity I just mentioned. Does the hon. member believe activities of holding pictures of aborted fetuses for young girls to see as they enter their high schools is an activity a government should fund?
    Mr. Speaker, in her intervention and question, the hon. member has admitted to the House that it is the policy of the government to change what will be Canadian public policy and determining that the attestation more fits with what should be looked at as opposed to what is currently being looked at CRA. The reason is that one of the things a charity has to do is describe all the activities it undertakes. This activity would be described in an application for charitable status.
    Is she now telling me that because of the stories she told, charities will have their charitable status taken away from them? Is that where we are going in this situation?

  (1535)  

    Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to my colleague, for whom I have enormous respect. However, I feel she took a turn in the road, going at the CRA. We know the previous government used the CRA to go after environmental groups. The question before us today is whether organizations that work with young people should get funding.
    There were groups in my riding of Timmins—James Bay that abused it. A group called Priests for Life, which I have never heard of and has no connection in my riding, was using it strictly for militant work on abortion. To me, that is a fairly straightforward mechanism to ensure groups like that, which are not doing youth outreach, do not get the funding.
    What concerns me is it seems we are going into a Liberal culture war here. Many groups do faith work and incredible work with community groups. They now feel they are under this attestation. I am trying to reassure people in my riding that if they are doing good community work, they are still eligible. However, I am very concerned that this ham-fisted response to what was a reasonable problem that could have easily been fixed would not have resulted in the kinds of concerns I hear across our region.
    Mr. Speaker, it is a fair comment. I appreciate the intervention from the hon. member, who I like very much as well, being the fact that we share roots from Cape Breton.
    The ham-fisted way in which the government has shoved this attestation in haste to deal with the problem it botched the first time will set up a situation where we will have a lot more worried organizations. I do not think they understand and realize that there is already a Canadian public policy test sprinkled throughout legislation in the government. One of the more serious areas is in the Canadian registry for charitable organizations.
    There can be many challenges others will launch, and letters that will be written to the CRA, trying to take away charitable status for many organizations across the country on the basis that the government has changed the attestation to be so specific, that it is deeming it is no longer within Canadian public policy. This is a mess, and we have to absolutely oppose it.
    Mr. Speaker, it would have been far more democratic and accountable for the government simply to say to its members of Parliament that if they did not like a particular funding of an organization, they should deep-six it, then stand before their constituents and be individually responsible. The Liberals keep talking about actions versus beliefs. If one reads the attestation, it says that one signs up with what the government believes to be the values of our country. That is Orwellian.
    The member has referred to the CRA. The Prime Minister has mentioned that this kind of attestation thinking will apply to future youth programming. Is she worried about other programs, besides the CRA or the summer jobs, to which this new attestation Orwellian thought speech will apply?
    Mr. Speaker, what the hon. member is talking about is legislative creep, and that is exactly what I am talking about today. I am very worried about the application of this to other aspects of government services.
     We saw it already. It happened when the Liberal Party of Canada said that people must sign off on their own attestation on certain topics important to the Liberal Party of Canada, and thou shalt not speak of those things, even though people may believe another way. Now it has found its way into Canada summer jobs. Where is it going to find itself next? The Prime Minister has opened the door, and it is going to be part of other programs.
     I am sounding the alarm right now. We could be in for a major problem with charitable status in this country and ripping the carpet out from so many vulnerable people who depend on charities and their good work.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for St. Catharines.
     I am very pleased to be speaking today about the Canada summer jobs program and national priorities. As you know, Canada Summer Jobs is a federal program that provides employers with funding to help them create summer jobs for students. A summer job is key for students who want to acquire the type of work experience that employers look for in a curriculum vitae while earning money to pay for their next year in school. The work experience students acquire during the summer is important in the educational process, because it makes it easier for them to enter the workforce once they have finished school.
     Society and the job market are in constant evolution. As a government, we must ensure that all young Canadians, including those facing obstacles, can get a good job. We must also make sure that employers have access to workers with the skills they need. This year, we set five national priorities for Canada summer jobs in order to be in a better position to meet current and future workforce needs and improve job prospects for young Canadians.
     Employers who support these national priorities have been invited to apply, in particular employers who want to hire young people who belong to an under-represented group; small businesses; organizations that provide employment opportunities for official language minority communities; organizations that offer services to the LGBTQ2+ community or that support it; and, lastly, organizations that hire women, particularly in the fields of science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and information and communication technologies. Incidentally, this year, we extended the application period by one week, until February 9.
     I would now like to address the reasons for setting each of these priorities. The first concerns under-represented youth. We are aware that all young people face challenges. However, some groups of young people encounter major obstacles, and a summer job can help. Consider young indigenous people, for example. Unfortunately, all too often these young people are less likely to finish secondary school than non-indigenous youth, which has a major impact on their career prospects.
     Let's also consider young recent immigrants. Without work experience in Canada, without a professional network, without proficiency in the official languages, and without recognition of their credentials, they are unlikely to be able to get a job and keep it. The numbers speak for themselves: in 2011, 48.9% of young recent immigrants were employed, compared to 61% of youth born in Canada. It is therefore necessary to help these under-represented young people get the work experience they need.
    Why are official language minority communities a priority? These communities help promote our two official languages across the country through their contribution to Canada's socio-economic fabric. Furthermore, pursuant to part VII of the Official Languages Act, we must take measures to enhance the vitality of these communities and assist their development, as well as to foster Canada's two official languages. By adding official language minority communities to our priorities, we are ensuring their long-term survival and vitality.
    I now want to talk about the LGBTQ2 community. Our government recognizes that all Canadians have the right to live without fear of discrimination and to be fully included in all facets of Canadian society, regardless of who they love or how they identify or express their gender. This is why we committed to protecting the dignity, security, and rights of transgender and gender-diverse Canadians. Our government will prioritize the applications from organizations that create job opportunities for young people in this community. We are doing this because we recognize that this community has faced a lot of discrimination in the workplace.

  (1540)  

    Today, members of the LGBTQ still earn less than their peers. We are taking action to change that.
     I would now like to talk about small businesses, which are vital to the growth of the Canadian economy. They represent 97.9% of all businesses in Canada, account for 30% of Canada's GDP on average, and play an important role in job creation.
    Small businesses with no more than 50 employees are not always able to pay the full salary for a summer position. By providing financial assistance to hire young people and give them valuable work experience, we are helping these businesses as well as our youth. Young workers benefit from these professional experiences and bring many ideas and new perspectives to their workplace and their local community.
    For the second year in a row, jobs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and information and communications technologies are included in the national priorities of the Canada summer jobs program.
    We are supporting our government's vision to make Canada a global centre for innovation.
    What is different this year is that we have added an additional priority for employers in these fields so that they recruit women.
    We are stressing the recruitment of women because even though they have made progress in terms of labour force participation, all too often they continue to be under-represented in STEM professions.
    By helping employers create job opportunities in these professions, we are helping students, especially female students, consider a career in professions that are in great demand and that will shape the future of Canada.
    These priorities foster economic growth and help our middle class prosper. Young Canadians have many talents, and it is our responsibility to help them find their place in our society and contribute to our economy.
    Our government knows that taxpayers' money should never be used to support organizations that seek to undermine the rights of Canadians.
    We know that the opposition leader, the member for Regina—Qu'Appelle, has a long-standing friendship with the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform, an organization that actively opposes the right of women to choose what to do with their own bodies. Nine months ago, during the leadership campaign, he spoke with the centre's communications director, Jonathon Van Maren. Mr. Van Maren said that, like many of us, he knew for a long time who his top choices would be. The member for Regina—Qu'Appelle was pro-life and had the record to prove it.
    The opposition leader said that he had always voted in favour of pro-life legislation, that he had always voted according to his conscience, and that he had spoken out against the fact that Henry Morgentaler was awarded the Order of Canada.
    The support of the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform was key to the opposition leader's victory in the leadership race. As a result, it is easy to see why the opposition leader has a direct interest in ensuring that the centre continues to use Canadian taxpayers' dollars to promote its anti-abortion agenda.
    However, the government side is determined to continue to help our young people continue their education and acquire the experience they need to succeed in life.

  (1545)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I am sure that, like me, my colleague has had many people and groups in her riding approach her with concerns about how this attestation is being administered. I have had dozens of community groups in my riding approach me personally, either by email, in person, by phone, or by letter. They are very concerned about these issues. I also conducted a round table, where I had 13 participants who came and expressed some deep concerns.
     Earlier in my remarks, I commented about a group in my riding that did not want me to use its name or divulge anything about it, because its members were afraid that because they were objecting to the attestation, they might be punished in future applications for other government programs. People are afraid to sign the letter, because they feel that the federal government will continue to limit freedom of belief and move these requirements into other federal programs. My colleague from Milton outlined that danger very well.
    One of the member's colleagues, the member for Coast of Bays—Central—Notre Dame, has come out very clearly in opposition to this attestation. He said that the attestation is “totally flopped” and that the test itself shows “a lack of respect”. We hear a lot about respect when it comes to this attestation. Does my colleague agree with her colleague from Coast of Bays—Central—Notre Dame?

  (1550)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for the question.
    I am pleased to hear that he had the chance to talk with his constituents. I also had the privilege of hosting a roundtable and the questions were very clear. People wanted to know how to access the Canada summer jobs program, how to align with national priorities, and how to ensure that young Canadians gain experience that respects their rights.
    There were plenty of questions and conversations. Employers who were interested said that they believed in it and that they would apply for the Canada summer jobs program and demonstrate that they respect Canadians' rights. I have received a number of applications and I look forward to seeing which ones will be accepted.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the intervention by my colleague today. Back in December, when there were some concerns raised, supplemental information was shared.
    This is one program that members of Parliament are very much invested in. They have the opportunity to share the priorities of their ridings or areas with the program, and that weighs in on each of the applications. Everyone has a database.
    What we did with the supplemental information was get it out to those who had applied in previous years. I think that satisfied the vast majority. Obviously, the number of applications is higher than it was last year, so most groups are comfortable with the additional information.
    Would my colleague have undertaken a similar initiative? How did she address it when additional information was requested from the people in her riding who had applied?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for the question.
    In Ottawa—Vanier it was very interesting to see how many groups, whether non-profit organizations, businesses, or institutions wanted to use this highly sought-after program to encourage young people to work during the summer.
    I had the privilege of not only organizing a roundtable, but also sending a wealth of information through letters and on social media. I became very involved with local businesses and organizations to help them prepare and ask questions about their application, and to encourage them to apply.
    There was a host of communications exercises, and my team answered the questions to ensure that people could respond properly and complete their application either electronically or on paper.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today, and correct the record on many of the inaccuracies being advanced by the opposition benches.
    The absurd theory suggested that this is a debate on values or religion is simply ridiculous. This is simply a matter of reading a definition on a publicly available website.
    If my colleagues will indulge me, I will take a moment to read the definition of the core mandate into the record:
     An organization’s mandate is a statement of its main purpose or its reason for existence. The key activities undertaken by the organization, including services provided to the community outline how the mandate is fulfilled. For many not-for-profits and religious organizations, their mandate may be similar to the description of “ongoing programs” that they provide to the Canada Revenue Agency at tax time.
    There are many colleagues on the other side who are playing lawyer. They will take a couple of words from the application, and not include the definition. We are legislators. We deal with definitions on defined terms every day, and to ignore the definition is misleading to Canadians, and that is unacceptable. Canadians are not being told the full story of the program, and kids and students are going to suffer.
    As one can see, there is absolutely nothing that precludes religious organizations from applying, or even being granted funds under the Canada summer jobs program. I have had the opportunity in St. Catharines to speak to many faith organizations in my community, and I am pleased that they are applying, because there is nothing here that will prevent them from applying or receiving funding. No argument can be made to the contrary.
    It is irresponsible for the opposition to advance the position that attesting to upholding charter rights equates to a values test. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms is not something to be trivialized. I contend that the charter is Canadian values themselves enshrined in law. Asking Canadians to simply reaffirm that public funds will be used in a way that respects those values and laws our nation is built upon is not much to ask for.
    However, what makes me angry is that member after member from the Conservative caucus is standing up or Tweeting misinformation that is leading to organizations losing out on funding. This misinformation that is being promoted is leading to these organizations falsely believing that they are no longer eligible for funding. Every summer camp that kids do not get to attend or meals on wheels program that is short a driver in their ridings is thanks to the opposition and the misinformation that is being spread.
    This is being made worse by the fact that they are only doing this to pander to their base. The farther their leader drags them away from the centre requires them to go looking for new votes. The general public, especially young Canadians, should not suffer because the Leader of the Opposition is trolling for votes.
    If we look at the price the Leader of the Opposition had to pay to become the leader of the Conservative Party, we look to statements that have been made by a long-standing relationship with the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform, an organization that fights against a woman's right to choose. Nine months ago during his leadership campaign, he spoke to the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform director of communication, Jonathon Van Maren, who said, “Like most of you, I’ve known who my top choices are for months...[The Leader of the Opposition] is pro-life and has a record to prove it.”
    That is because the Leader of the Opposition told the centre, “I have always voted in favour of pro-life legislation. I voted according to my conscience every time. I spoke out when Henry Morgentaler received the Order of Canada...”
    That is the price that the Leader of the Opposition paid, and this is what we are seeing again today. There has been misinformation, as I have said.
    Over the past two years, I have had the pleasure of visiting businesses, and organizations in my riding who were recipients of Canada summer jobs funding. I think particularly of visiting two young students at the Foster Festival, which is an arts and theatre festival in St. Catharines. They were theatre students at Brock University, and had the opportunity to build sets, meet new people, and have mentors in an industry that can be difficult to get into, especially in Niagara.

  (1555)  

    They were recipients of Canada summer jobs funding. So too were many faith organizations, and that will happen again. At those businesses and organizations, I had the opportunity to meet with students who were hired, and the message I got from them was identical. They were all pleased to have an opportunity to gain the on-the-job experience that they were receiving, to work hard, and make a few hard-earned extra dollars to take back to school in the fall.
    I think it is obvious why the tactics of my colleagues across the aisle are so infuriating. These tactics are causing these students to suffer, to lose out on unique opportunities. Has anyone thought of the students and how the misinformation being spread impacts them?
    I am grateful going to churches, to the mosque in St. Catharines, and to other faith organizations, and organizations that may not be churches themselves but are inspired by faith, inspired by Christianity. I am happy to report they are applying for Canada summer jobs. I look froward to visiting those students this summer so we can see them at work, building that on-the-job experience, and making a bit of extra money.
    We are talking so much about religious values, yet no one on the opposition has stopped to ask about how this will affect the students.
    We are the government that recognized the importance of this program. We doubled the funding for this program, because of the positive impact it was having on Canadian youth. The benefits and opportunities afforded to young Canadians demanded that this program be expanded. That is what should be on the minds of our opposition colleagues.
    The opposition would rather see these funds used to undermine the hard-earned charter rights of Canadians. That is completely unacceptable. The Conservatives continue to speak about religious rights and freedom of speech, which are not impacted by the attestation, yet they seem to forget about the rights guaranteed to women under section 15. The equality of rights guaranteed under section 15 protects the rights of women should they choose to access safe abortion services.
    We have already heard one member of the opposition rise today and liken the LGBTQ2 community to being a lifestyle choice. We have heard the opposition House leader comparing the government's protection of charter rights in this attestation to the horrible oppression and prosecution of the LGBTQ2 community during the 60s, 70s, and 80s. It is clear that the opposition does not get it, and it is clear that the government needs to stand up for these hard-earned charter rights.
    Enough is enough with the misinformation. Enough is enough with the marginalization of charter rights. Enough is enough with the disrespect that has been shown toward young Canadians and organizations in our communities. This is a program about young Canadians getting good-paying summer jobs and life experiences that go along with that. It is time to put them back into the centre of our thinking and not treat them like political pawns.
    Every year I look forward to seeing the Canada summer jobs list for my riding, to seeing the positive impact those jobs will have in St. Catharines, and on young Canadians. As in past years, I look forward to seeing that list in the near future. I am looking forward to seeing those kids get the skills that they are looking forward to very soon. I am also looking forward to continuing this in the coming years.

  (1600)  

    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the member for St. Catharines raising his concerns about misinformation. However, it is the Liberal government that proposed these changes. It is the one responsible for the administration of the program. It put out this attestation and gave very little guidance to Canadians. The opposition members ask questions, but we do not get firm answers, especially from the minister responsible. He can understand why some Canadians would be less than certain as to what the government is intending to do.
    The government could have just said to their Liberal members of Parliament to reject Canada summer jobs applications that they disagreed with. That is something they could do, and be more directly accountable to constituents. It could have said, “Let's ban political or social advocacy, whether knocking on doors for political or social causes”, but it did not do that.
    The Prime Minister has said he would like to see this kind of attestation applied to other areas in our system. Does the member opposite believe these kinds of attestations should be used for determining if someone should be able to get a job with the Government of Canada? This is the kind of ideological thinking that has consequences. I would like to hear from the member if he supports that.
    Mr. Speaker, the rights within the Charter of Rights and Freedoms are hard-earned, and we have members from the other side getting up in 2018 and still calling the LGBTQ2 community a lifestyle choice. In the eyes of the member who said those words, it would be fine to discriminate. It would be fine to use public money for that particular purpose. That is unacceptable. This government, and no government, should use public funds to undermine someone's charter rights. That is unacceptable.
     Canadians expect the government to uphold the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. That is exactly what we are doing.

  (1605)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I agree that organizations that receive government funding should not infringe on the rights guaranteed by the charter.
     My colleague said that students should not suffer, and I completely agree.
    I remember how last summer, the Liberals were bragging about how there were more jobs in the Canada summer jobs program. However, in Hochelaga, we noticed that each job lasted for fewer weeks. There may have been more jobs, but this is because each job lasted for fewer weeks.
    Does the member not think that this is causing students to suffer and that they are being offered lower-quality jobs?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, this is the government that doubled funding to this particular program. There are more jobs. There are more hours. I was happy to hear from my friend, the hon. parliamentary secretary, that applications are at an all-time high.
     I am looking forward to seeing more applications to this program, seeing more jobs, and more young Canadians, especially in St. Catharines, and across the country, get to work, and get the skills they need.
    Mr. Speaker, I want to pick up on the point the member made that we have members of the opposition who seem to want to give misinformation that could ultimately lead to many students not having access to different types of job opportunities.
     Can he expand on why it is important for members of Parliament on all sides of the House to look for an agency to support, and to not give misinformation, but provide information that is necessary to ensure that as many groups, both private and non-profit, are engaged in this particular program?
    Mr. Speaker, when I spoke with faith organizations, they raised concerns, but when I read the definition that I brought up in my speech, the concerns were lifted. That is important because faith organizations, the opposition members are right, are doing great work in our community. They are helping refugees. They are helping the homeless. They are helping with food banks and running day cares.
    As legislators it is important to read the definition to define the terms. The opposition is excluding that entire point, which is fundamental to the definition. I beseech them to use that definition as they would any other piece of legislation or anything else from the government, so that they can get jobs for their young constituents, because clearly this is important to them and important to those organizations.
    Mr. Speaker, before I begin I want to indicate that I will be sharing my time with the member for St. Albert—Edmonton.
    I am very pleased to have the opportunity to speak to my colleagues this afternoon about the motion. I want to thank the member for Elgin—Middlesex—London for bringing this very important matter forward in the way of a motion and as something we can discuss here in the House.
    We are talking today about the change that the Liberals have made to the application process for the Canada summer jobs program. We know that the Canada summer jobs program is a valuable program for numerous organizations all across the country. It provides funding to assist employers, including not-for-profits, that create summer job opportunities for full-time students. There certainly does not need to be anything controversial about a summer jobs program. It is a win-win situation. Students benefit by getting valuable employment and work experience. Communities benefit from the important services provided by these organizations, but with the Liberal government, nothing is sacred.
    In the dying days of 2017, the Liberals quietly introduced their new values test requirement for the Canada summer jobs program. When I first learned of this new requirement, I could not believe that the government, even a Liberal government, would demand that the people who serve our communities agree with its Liberal values in order to receive funding. There was no consultation process. There was no public feedback requested. Instead, the Liberals unilaterally decided that only the individuals and organizations who agreed with their prescribed set of values would be worthy of receiving the Canada summer jobs funding. This is just wrong.
    Canadians know it. My office has been inundated with emails, letters, and phone calls from concerned Canadians. Many of the calls came from organizations in my riding that have taken advantage of the Canada summer jobs program to hire students for the summer to work in their various organizations. Impacted organizations include day cares, summer camps, small businesses, and municipalities. Each of these organizations read the attestation and felt that to sign it, to agree with the Liberal Party's dogma on certain issues, was an affront to the Charter of Rights. They felt that they would be compromising their beliefs if they signed it.
    I know Liberal members have indicated confusion on this point. Why will Canadians not just sign the attestations? They have told these Canadians to hold their noses and sign it. After all, the supplementary information that was provided by the Liberal government after the swift negative response from Canadians was supposedly meant to clarify what was meant by the wording of the attestation, but the Liberals just do not get it. The Liberals' understanding of tolerance is so narrow that they cannot wrap their heads around the thought that there are Canadians who actually might have different beliefs and values than those of the Liberal Party. The Liberals can only tolerate those opinions, those beliefs, those values that agree with theirs. If people do not agree with them, they are no longer eligible to receive funding for a summer student.
    Speaking of Canada's success, the Prime Minister stated the following:
    But what’s made it work so well in Canada is the understanding that our diversity isn’t a challenge to be overcome or a difficulty to be tolerated.
    Rather, it’s a tremendous source of strength.
    However, here we are. The man himself contradicting his famous quote. Why? Because in the Prime Minister's world he thinks he holds the monopoly on what constitutes acceptable diversity. While he may talk a lot about respecting diversity, his actions tell another story. That is the real problem going forward.
    It is important to understand that this change represents a marked departure from past practices in this country. Requiring Canadians to agree with a political party's values as a condition of eligibility for grant monies is not how government funding decisions are made. Despite the good work so many organizations do in our communities, caring for the disabled, refugees, providing day camps for children in need, assisting vulnerable youth at risk, providing shelter for abused women and children, providing food for those who are hungry, and also providing shelter for those who are homeless, their applications may be rejected simply for holding beliefs different from those of the people in power.
    I received an email from a constituent, Sharon, who said that the fact that employers will now be required to attest that both the job and the organization's core mandate respect certain values, as determined by the federal government, struck her as seriously violating our guaranteed freedoms of religion, thought, belief, opinion, and association offered by Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms, especially the provisions under section 2. She said that this affected her and upset her. She thought she lived in a democracy where diversity and a mosaic culture were encouraged. She said she did not think she was part of a government-dictated cookie-cutter world. She said that she does not always agree with everyone else's point of view, but she understands that they have a right to their opinions, just as she thought she did.

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    It is not just people like Sharon who have voiced their concerns. Community organizations from right across the country have been facing a loss of funding that they have relied on for years through the Canada summer jobs program. This is a direct result of the Liberal government's ideological bullying.
    Take for example Bridgepark Manor, a not-for-profit organization that offers seniors' and retirement housing in my riding. Bridgepark applied for Canada summer jobs funding, approximately $16,000, in order to hire two students to work full time over the summer holidays. The students would have been working in the food services area, gaining valuable skills, serving meals to the seniors at the residence.
    As a result of the Liberals values test, the CEO and the board faced an impossible choice: either compromise their values or be denied funding. As a result of the organization making alterations on the application to the attestation, the reply that it received back from the government was that its claim would be rejected. There are now two more students in my riding who will not have an opportunity that would have otherwise been presented.
    Here is another example. A community organization responsible for the annual agriculture fair in one of the communities in my riding has used the Canada summer jobs program in the past to hire a summer student. The job requirements include preparing and maintaining the fairgrounds, tasks like painting, lawn mowing, and weed trimming, but it too cannot agree with the Liberals values test. This is yet another job lost.
    There are more examples. Catherine, a summer camp director wrote that she rejects this statement on the grounds of her rights to freedom of conscience, religion, thought, belief, opinion, expression, and association guaranteed in section 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. She says that as a Christian organization that deeply values human rights, they will not betray their beliefs or conscience.
    Josie, a recreation director with a municipal organization, wrote that without the help of the Canada summer jobs program, her organization's ability to offer programs and services will be severely diminished. She said she believed they were being denied equal access to a government benefit because of their organizational and personal beliefs, and that this violates the charter, which guarantees freedom of religion, thought, belief, and opinion.
    I have another one. An arts organization in my riding, of all things, wrote that while they continued to affirm their intention as an association to support rights and freedoms, they protested the attestation requirement of the funding application that divided us along political lines.
    The truth of the matter is that this policy is not about the activities or services an organization is engaged in. It is about targeting the personal beliefs of the individuals who run those organizations. That is shameful.
    I have heard some Liberals in the House today say that they have taken a brave or bold step by introducing this values test. There is nothing brave about the Liberal Party using the powers of government to suppress views that are different from their own. The real heroes of this story are the many individuals and organizations who, when faced with this kind of discrimination by their own government, chose to stay true to their value