North Okanagan-Shuswap MP Mel Arnold met with Christian and Sikh leaders in Vernon on July 12 to discuss the effects of legislation on faith-based communities.
Arnold was joined by fellow Conservative MPs Garnett Genuis (Sherwood Park-Fort Saskatchewan) and Martin Shields (Bow River), who met with representatives of the Vernon Ministerial Association and the North Okanagan Sikh Temple.
According to a spokesperson for Arnold’s office, the religious leaders shared concerns about government policy changes they say have made funding and project applications more complex.
The spokesperson gave the Canada Summer Jobs Program attestation requirement as an example, which the government announced in 2017 after a number of anti-abortion groups received money to support anti-abortion efforts.
It requires applicants to attest that the job and the organization’s core mandate respect human rights in Canada, including the reproductive rights of women.
Arnold has spoken out against the requirement in Parliament in the past, calling it a “cold-hearted attack” on faith-based organizations.
“The current Liberal government has decided to place its own values test on employers applying for the Canada Summer Jobs Program, a values test that organizations in my riding of North Okanagan—Shuswap cannot in good conscience support,” he said in a March 2018 statement at the House of Commons.
“These organizations for years have supported Canada’s summer jobs and provided services to children, seniors, and the disadvantaged.”
Aside from the attestation requirement example, the spokesperson said the conversation was generally around added administrative requirements for their organizations’ operations locally and abroad, as well as improving communication between legislators and faith communities.
“I appreciate my parliamentary colleagues and leaders of local faith communities coming together to participate in our discussions,” Arnold said in a news release.
“Faith is an important part of Canada’s heritage and traditions of tolerance; as legislators we must continue to keep our doors open to all faiths to understand how to ensure Parliament’s work respects all faith communities and our constitutional rights.”