DISCRIMINATION

ISN’T IT WRONG TO DISCRIMINATE?

According to the Honorable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, discrimination is against the law in Canada. Minister Hajdu claims, “What the law of Canada says is that Canadians have a right to live their lives free from discrimination.” In a January 23 Global News interview, she argued that the goal of the Canada Summer Jobs attestation was to “prevent organizations to use this [money] in ways that actively discriminate. You know, we’ve had organizations that have rules in place that prohibit people from the GLBTQ community for applying for those positions [sic]. Not only is that a fundamental violation of that person’s right in Canada, but it’s also against labour law.”

In fact, Canadian law does allow for discrimination. Federal and Provincial human rights legislation “recognizes that in certain circumstances, a limitation on individual rights may be reasonable and justifiable. Discrimination or exclusion may be allowed if an employer can show that [it] is a necessary requirement of a job, that is, if it is a bona fide occupational requirement.”

So, for instance, if a position requires employees to drive a vehicle to make deliveries, the company may discriminate against applicants who do not have a valid driver’s licence.

Likewise, if a religious community wishes to preserve the integrity of its beliefs and practices, it is lawfully permitted to discriminate to the extent necessary for its religious purposes. For example, a church is allowed by law to discriminate against an atheist who applies for a pastoral position. A Christian summer camp may restrict employment to counsellors who share its spiritual tenets. In fact, asking applicants to sign a morality statement is not illegal, it’s vital to preserving our cultural diversity and personal liberty in Canada.