A Democratic Imperative
State neutrality is vital to maintaining Canada’s diverse, multicultural heritage.
“A neutral public space free from coercion, pressure, and judgement … is intended to protect every person’s freedom and dignity. … The state’s duty to protect every person’s freedom of conscience and religion means that it may not use its powers in such a way as to promote the participation of certain believers or non-believers in public life to the detriment of others.”
– Chief Justice Gascon of the Supreme Court of Canada
The government’s Canada Summer Jobs policy violates this neutrality requirement because it favours one ideological position at the expense of another.
It promotes the participation of certain “non-believers” to the detriment of religious adherents (and others who objected to the attestation based on conscience).
This is not only contrary to the Charter, it has dangerous implications for the future.
If the government can refuse public benefits to religious groups, such logic allows for discrimination against religious individuals, and ultimately against any who hold dissenting opinions.