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Gerry Byrne speaks out against Canada Summer Job attestation

Gerry Byrne spoke about Marine Atlantic’s fuel surcharge at an ACAP-Humber Arm Coastal Matter’s session at the forestry centre at Grenfell Campus on Friday.
Byrne. - Star file photo

Gerry Byrne doesn’t think it’s up to the federal government to decide how faith-based groups view their principles and religious tenets.

“That is an absolutely ridiculous notion; it cannot be supported,” said Byrne the MHA for Corner Brook on Tuesday.

His comments are in reaction to the requirement that faith-based groups applying for Canada Summer Job grants now have to attest that the job and the organization’s core mandate respect individual human rights, including the right to abortion.

Byrne said he’s been hearing concerns from faith groups and individuals saying this is an inappropriate approach to administering federal programs and services. He said organizations that have offered quality employment for young people are now under the requirement no longer eligible to receive funding.

It’s been suggested that the requirement is to protect youth from indoctrination. Byrne doesn’t buy that.

“I have never experienced any complaints or witnessed any situations where organizations have used the Canada student job program as a platform for indoctrination of any kind,” said the former Liberal MP. “Faith-based communities have employed youth and the experience has been absolutely positive and skills affirming.”

The right to abortion playing at the forefront of the controversy. Byrne declined to comment on his own views on the topic.

“That’s exactly the trap that was likely intended by provoking this debate,” he said.

He said it’s about the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, what that means, how it should be applied and whether or not it’s being applied appropriately, correctly and in the spirit intended.

Byrne said as it stands a good group of employers are being deemed ineligible and he’s concerned that this will spread to other government programs and services.

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