New “secret” documents expose Justin Trudeau’s role in barring children’s camps from Canada Summer Jobs grants

Posted on Oct 15, 2019 in Latest Updates, News Releases

HALIFAX, PETERBOROUGH:  The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF.ca) today released new documents uncovered in its Canada Summer Jobs court cases, which show that Prime Minister Trudeau was directly involved in creating new rules used to bar faith-based summer camps from obtaining grants from the Canada Summer Jobs (“CSJ”) program.

The documents (1, 2) reveal that two Christian summer camps were deemed ineligible for grants from the Canada Summer Jobs program on account of their Christian beliefs.  Documents obtained by the Justice Centre record how government employees described the summer camps’ beliefs as “controversial church doctrine along with discriminating hiring practices based on church beliefs”, and denied the summer camps’ applications, without providing the summer camps with any opportunity to respond to these accusations.

As explained in recently filed affidavits (1, 2), some of the positions at the summer camps required a mature understanding of Christian beliefs. Hence the summer camps used employment application forms that included a section asking applicants about Christian beliefs, so as to allow the summer camps “to determine what role they are able to fulfill” at the camps.

In June, the Justice Centre commenced courts actions against the federal government on behalf of Mill Stream Bible Camp near Peterborough, Ontario and Mount Traber Bible Camp near Halifax, Nova Scotia. They are two of numerous religious summer camps barred from receiving Canada Summer Jobs grants in 2019. According to an internal government email obtained by the Justice Centre, the new 2019 rule used to bar these camps from the CSJ program was created under the specific direction of the Prime Minister.

A November 16, 2018 “secret” internal memo to federal Labour Minister Patricia Hajdu about eligibility (“the Eligibility Memo”) proposed two different options for new “ineligibility criteria” for organizations applying for grants. Option A deemed ineligible employers who “discriminate on the basis of prohibited grounds”, including religion, among other ineligibility criteria. Option B did not include the focus on whether employers “discriminate”; rather, it focused on the nature of the specific projects and job activities set out in an organization’s CSJ application.

The Eligibility Memo noted that government staff were going to take more time “related to screening and assessment” of CSJ applications, and raised the concern that under Option A “too many” organizations, specifically “faith-based employers” would be deemed ineligible. The Eligibility Memo states that under Option A “[e]mployers governed by or linked to faith-based organizations would disproportionately be deemed ineligible for grants given potential links made by program staff to broader doctrine adhered to by faith based organizations.” The Eligibility Memo specifically mentioned the heightened risk to “a faith-based employer that runs a summer camp”.

In response to the Eligibility Memo’s recommendations to Minister Hajdu, the Prime Minister became directly involved in framing the new rules.  A November 12, 2018 email states “Please find attached language that [has] been approved by the Prime Minister and the Minister.”

The language approved by Prime Minister Trudeau and Minister Hajdu specifically added “restrict[ing] access to … employment” on the basis of religion (and other enumerated grounds) as grounds to deny a CSJ grant to a summer camp.

Federal government employees have used this rule to deny grants to faith-based summer camps, because of the employment applications used by the summer camps to hire staff.

“There is nothing illegal or wrong about Christian summer camps hiring Christian staff,” commented Justice Centre staff lawyer Marty Moore.

“Barring summer camps serving underprivileged kids from participating in the Canada Summer Jobs program on the basis of their religious beliefs is nothing short of anti-religious bigotry,” continued Moore.

Further information and documentation is available at https://www.jccf.ca/our-cases/

 

For more information contact:

Marty Moore, Justice Centre staff lawyer

(587) 998-1806 or mmoore@jccf.ca