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Letter: Respecting human rights shouldn’t be too much to agree to

Don’t let writing letters to the editor become a dying art.
"The reason I’m writing is to counter some of the misinformation being widely spread on this issue," Ryan Steeves writes of the controversy surrounding the Canada Summer Jobs program.

In anticipation of the summer season, when many students will be looking for temporary work opportunities, organizations across the country have started applying for grants under the federal government’s Canada Summer Jobs program.

What has caught the surprise and ire of some organizations and big-C Conservative pundits across the country has been an update in eligibility requirements to include that organizations must “respect individual human rights in Canada, including the values underlying the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms as well as other rights.”

That is to say, if the organization doesn’t actively campaign against recognized rights in Canada, then they shouldn’t have any issues.

These other rights have been specified to include reproductive rights and freedom from discrimination. This was added to prevent having young people forced to sign “morality clauses” or giving funds to organizations that include opposition to abortion as a core mandate of their organization.

Now, the reason I’m writing is to counter some of the misinformation being widely spread on this issue. Reading the eligibility clause should tell you that respecting reproductive rights doesn’t mean that you have to agree. Respecting them can certainly mean that the organization may want abortions to be as rare as possible. While disrespect of rights is open to interpretation, it shouldn’t be seen as a barrier to religious organizations applying, and the government has stressed this through Labour Minister Patty Hajdu’s office, highlighting that there’s a difference between the beliefs of applicants and their core mandates.

That is to say, if the organization doesn’t actively campaign against recognized rights in Canada, then they shouldn’t have any issues. As a Liberal supporter, I’m disappointed that in Newfoundland and Labrador we have a member of Parliament who is using his platform to heighten this misunderstanding rather than to help organizations in his riding so they can continue to provide employment to young people in central Newfoundland.

Ryan A. Steeves
Memorial University student
Pouch Cove

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