Beware the Liberal Thought Police


Two years into the Trudeau government’s term and the veneer of the “sunny ways” imagery has started to fade away to reveal a darker undercurrent of dangerous ideological division. We have seen how the steady tax increases by the Liberal government under the guise of taxing the so-called wealthiest 1% have stealthily evolved into attempts to tax the tips of hospitality and service workers. We have seen attempts to eliminate tax relief for families impacted by health challenges like diabetes, autism or mental health. Now we are witnessing this same divisive and ideological movement set federal funding of youth employment in its crosshairs.

Without any consultation whatsoever, the Trudeau government began to apply an ideological litmus test to the popular Canada Summer Jobs program. This decades-old program supports students looking for summer employment by providing grants to community organizations doing programming over the summer. Groups hire students to deliver largely seasonal programs, from summer day camps for children, to museums, farmers’ markets, tourism and other community causes. These jobs are a huge win for both the student and the community. But in the shadow of the minimum wage hike by Kathleen Wynne, now Trudeau is compounding the challenges these job creators will have. This may mean fewer jobs for students this summer.

In Durham, I have seen firsthand how the federal grants allow municipal governments, cultural organizations, tourism operators, non-profits, churches of all faiths and charities fulfill their programming for the summer. Never have any of these organizations been forced to sign a legal attestation that relates to the religious or moral views of the group. But this is exactly what the Trudeau government has done.

For anyone familiar with the Canada Summer Jobs program, it was clear that the Liberals wanted to specifically exclude faith groups from the program, or at the very least, cause fewer groups with connections to faith communities to apply.
Canadians expect the Government of Canada to stand up for, and respect, all rights enshrined in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It is not up to Justin Trudeau to pick or choose which rights Canada respects and defends.

The freedoms of religion, thought and speech are all fundamental rights Canadians not only enjoy, we have fought for them at home and abroad. We know that a vibrant democracy means that on some issues, Canadians will understandably have different views. But respecting our democracy means that you respect that Canadians have the right to hold different views and you will not punish or isolate them for those differences.

While Justin Trudeau uses the slogan “Diversity is our Strength,” he has demonstrated time and again that he does not extend that diversity to thought or conscience. The Liberal government should strive to respect the fundamental rights and freedoms of all Canadians, and support summer job creation accordingly. They cannot just pick and choose only those that suit their political interests.

A very smart political observer told me that there is an inherent condescension at the core of the Trudeau government. He said that the Liberals don’t just disagree with their political opponents, but they feel that anyone who opposes their view simply “doesn’t understand Canada.” This same conceited attitude and rhetoric is shockingly underscored by attempting to exclude people of faith from community programming across Canada. First, they tried to roadblock church groups from organizing to bring Syrian refugees into Canada, and now they don’t want kids to get summer jobs at camp. Their approach is not just unfair, it is eerily reminiscent of Orwell’s 1984 “Thinkpol” thought police and must be challenged.

If you truly believe in the strength of Canadian diversity you must show that strength through tolerance and respect for all citizens. We are made stronger by differences of opinion on faith and conscience. Keeping young people out of community work sponsored by faith groups means an entire generation won’t be as well-equipped to think and believe for themselves. What kind of sunny ways are those?



Stay in Touch with Erin

Sign up for email updates from Erin O'Toole to hear the latest from Ottawa and our riding.