WHAT’S SO BAD ABOUT THE ATTESTATION?
SHOULDN’T WE ALL AGREE TO SUPPORT HUMAN RIGHTS?
The attestation is problematic for a number of reasons:
a.) It requires citizens to uphold the Charter. The Charter is meant to protect Canadians from the government infringing on their rights, not the reverse.
i.) Even if it receives partial government funding, a private organization (such as a summer camp or thrift store) is not a government agent and is not responsible for upholding the Charter. Instead, it is required to abide by human rights legislation, which provides exemptions for religious organizations to determine programs and hire employees based on shared beliefs and values. However, even CSJ applicants who expressed their respect for the Charter and their willingness to comply with all applicable human rights codes were rejected unless they “checked the box” and did not make any variation to the attestation in compliance with their beliefs.
b.) It refers to “values” which are undefined and may change depending on public opinion or partisan politics. Constitutional rights and freedoms (including freedom of conscience, religion, thought, and expression) must not be supplanted by subjective “values.”
c.) It describes abortion as a “right,” despite the fact that Canada has no federal legislation regulating abortion, and despite the fact that the Charter allows for the recognition of both maternal rights and the rights of the unborn child. Canada has yet to resolve the public debate about abortion. Politicians have refused to deal with it for decades. The current government has its own ideological position on the matter and is seeking to enforce its view on the rest of society. That is simply unjust.
d.) By forcing applicants to endorse an ideological position, it represents compelled speech, which violates Section 2 of the Charter. This has implications for all Canadians, regardless of their beliefs or values.
e.) It also violates equality laws under Section 15 of the Charter, which states that “Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination.”