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Danielle Smith: Canada summer jobs program should be scrapped

Justin Trudeau
FILE: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Aaron Vincent Elkaim

So, what does it take to be considered an organization worthy of receiving a Canada Summer Jobs grant from the Justin Trudeau Liberals?

Serving in a homeless food kitchen? Tidying up gravestones in a veterans cemetery? Supervising a summer soccer camp? Doing some farm work in central Alberta? Nope.

These are all jobs listeners told me have been denied now that the Trudeau government has decided to put organizations applying for a Canada Summer Jobs grant through an ideological purity test. A group has to swear an attestation that the job and their organization favour not only the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, but other rights such as “reproductive rights.”

Anyone who is pro-life can’t, in good conscience, do that. So their applications are being denied even if the work they are offering has nothing at all to do with abortion. David Cook, who has organized a petition to fight the arbitrary rule, told me there may be as many as 1,400 groups who have been rejected this year as a result.

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READ MORE: Documents shed light on how Liberals came up with controversial Canada Summer Jobs attestation

LISTEN: David Cook with Citizen Go discusses the summer jobs program

So, what about organizing protests to defeat a legal, federally-approved pipeline? Now you’re talking!

The Dogwood Initiative has this posting on their website calling for applicants:

“As an organizing assistant through the Canada Summer Jobs program you will work directly with a Dogwood Provincial Organizer and the field organizing team to help our organizing network stop the Kinder Morgan pipeline and tanker project, as well as help us strengthen the public call for a stronger, more accountable and transparent democracy.”

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Just who is the Dogwood Initiative and who funds it? Vivian Krause has this helpful expose on her website. Here’s the highlights: they play a lead role in the U.S.-funded Tar Sands Campaign, designed to undermine investor confidence and landlock Alberta oilsands. U.S. foundations have given them $2.7 million since 2008 and their total revenue last year was $1.6 million. They also take credit for electing anti-pipeline candidates at the municipal, provincial and federal level.

LISTEN: Brett Wilson and Danielle Smith discuss the Dogwood Initiative

READ MORE: Canada Summer Jobs legal challenge expedited; court could rule before summer

You may ask why an entity so reliant on foreign money is having such a disproportionate influence on Canadian politics. You may ask why your tax dollars are being used to fund partisan political campaigns. You may also ask why such a well-funded organization needs your tax dollars to hire summer students.

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It was comical to hear Prime Minister Trudeau attempt to defend himself as Opposition Leader Andrew Scheer pilloried him in Question Period. First, Trudeau tried to argue he was standing up for free speech. Next, he tried to argue that the Stephen Harper government funded them too. Finally, when it was pointed out to him that he punished his own MP Scott Simms for disagreeing with the attestation (so much for free speech), he switched to defending reproductive rights.

The truth is, there is no defence.

READ MORE: Trudeau on summer jobs funding controversy: ‘We are not rolling back the clock on women’s rights’

Here are the options: the program should be run free from discrimination and free from ideological bias, regardless of who is in government. Or the program needs to be completely revamped so that no groups engaged in any political advocacy should be funded at all. Or, if governments can’t be trusted to be fair, the program should be scrapped altogether. Playing political games with student jobs is just plain wrong.

If you know an organization or a business that has been denied a Canada Summer Jobs grant, let me know.

Danielle Smith can be reached at danielle@770chqr.com