Judge slaps Trudeau government for denying summer job scholarships to Christian university

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Redeemer University met all funding requirements but was still rejected after “rough internet search” by Service Canada bureaucrat, judge ruled

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In an unusually harsh judicial slap in the face from the Trudeau government, a federal judge ruled that an Ontario university was denied access to the Canada Summer Jobs program for a reason other than that it was a Christian institution.

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In a ruling on Tuesday, Judge Richard Mosley ruled that the federal government had violated “procedural fairness” in its treatment of Redeemer University, a private Christian liberal arts university in Hamilton, Ont. – and had refused funding for the school on the sole basis of its religious opposition to same-sex marriage. In a rare move, Mosley also ordered the federal government to pay the Redeemer ‘s full legal fees, which amounted to $ 102,000.

“I have never seen this in any court, let alone the federal court,” Redeemer University lawyer Albertos Polizogopoulos told the National Post on Friday, calling the judge’s decision an obvious “punitive” measure.

Redeemer University College v. Canada by Tristin Hopper on Scribd

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In 2019, Redeemer University requested $ 104,187 from the Canada Summer Jobs program to fund 11 temporary positions at the school. At the time, Redeemer had been participating in the Canada Summer Jobs program since 2006 without incident.

Within two months, the request was rejected on the grounds that Redeemer could not demonstrate “that measures were implemented to provide a workplace free from harassment and discrimination”.

At the time of application, Redeemer University required its students to avoid “the sexual intimacies that occur outside of a heterosexual marriage” – a policy that also informed the selection of faculty and staff.

An excerpt from Redeemer University's 2012/2013 academic calendar, a version of which was cited in Service Canada's rejection of the school's Canada Summer Jobs funding application.
An excerpt from Redeemer University’s 2012/2013 academic calendar, a version of which was cited in Service Canada’s rejection of the school’s Canada Summer Jobs funding application.

However, those restrictions did not extend to the school’s 11 positions in the school’s Canada Summer Jobs program, which ranged from attendants at summer camps to workers at an on-site water treatment plant. In his application, Redeemer had even expressly committed to targeting “young LGBTQ2” for employment.

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Shortly after its request, Service Canada asked the Redeemer to provide “missing information” on how the school intended to maintain a non-discriminatory work environment.

  1. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announces the doubling of the Canada Summer Jobs program on February 12, 2016.

    Legal battle for summer job certification intensifies as church and business groups file new challenges

  2. The Canada Summer Jobs program has been criticized by religious groups.

    Restriction on funding for summer jobs is not the first time religious rights in Canada have been violated

In response, Redeemer forwarded his 35-page anti-discrimination policy which cited the school’s adherence to the Ontario Human Rights Code and cited the Redeemer campus policy on the right to be “away.” free from the threat of harassment and discrimination ”.

Service Canada then rejected the school’s request, citing Redeemer’s “sexual intimacy” policy, as well as academic textbooks published by the school that listed “homosexual practice” as one of the “unacceptable practices” of the school. school for students and teachers.

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Redeemer University College photographed in 2011.
Redeemer University College photographed in 2011. Photo by Peter J. Thompson / National Post

Tuesday’s Federal Court ruling effectively concluded that Redeemer University had not been rejected because of any red flag in its application, but because of a “quick internet search” to which Redeemer did hadn’t had a chance to respond.

“If (Service Canada’s) concern was that the Redeemer discriminated on the basis of sexual orientation, there was no contemporary evidence of this on the record,” the Federal Court ruling wrote.

Judge Mosley added “that there is no evidence[…]that (Service Canada) has openly attempted to take into account the Redeemer rights to freedom of religion, freedom of expression or freedom of association in reviewing its application.

Or, as Redeemer University lawyer Albertos Polizogopoulos summed up the government’s position, “we don’t like your position on sexual morality and that’s why you are being turned down.” In Polizogopoulos’ submissions in court, he alleged that Redeemer had been subjected to a “background check” beyond the usual scope of the Canada Summer Jobs Program application process.

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Federal Cabinet Minister Patty Hajdu.  She was Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labor when new guidelines were added to the Canada Summer Jobs program requiring organizations to support the right to abortion.  She then became Minister of Health during the COVID-19 crisis.
Federal Cabinet Minister Patty Hajdu. She was Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labor when new guidelines were added to the Canada Summer Jobs program requiring organizations to support the right to abortion. She then became Minister of Health during the COVID-19 crisis. Photo by Reuters / Blair Gable

In a statement to the National Post, Redeemer University said it had taken legal action against the federal government because the school felt it “was being rejected only because Redeemer had legal opinions on traditional marriage. “.

Acting President David Zietsma referred to a section of the Civil Marriage Act – the 2005 law that legalized same-sex marriage in Canada – which states that “no person or organization shall be deprived of no advantage “if she has official convictions regarding marriage” as the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others.

Said Zietsma, “we were concerned about the precedent this type of discrimination would set for religious institutions.” The lawsuit intentionally did not seek payment of the $ 104,187 grant, but was instead continued because of the “principles involved.”

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In 2018, the Canada Summer Jobs program was the subject of a wave of lawsuits after Employment Minister Patty Hajdu made funding conditional on organizations pledging to support abortion.

The federal government ultimately gave up on the abortion commitment, and by the time Redeemer University made its 2019 request, Service Canada was instead enforcing a much more general policy of a “safe, inclusive work environment.” and healthy, free from harassment and discrimination ”.

Redeemer University re-applied to the Canada Summer Jobs program in 2020 and 2021. Polizogopoulos said Service Canada delayed the school’s application for 2020 until the program ran out of money, but then approved his 2021 request without incident. As a result, this summer, Redeemer University hired its first Canada Summer Jobs workers since 2017.

Polizogopoulos said: “I don’t know what has changed except we have kept the government’s feet on fire.”

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