Windsor

London Diocese will 'not be bullied' into federal policy on summer jobs funding

The Diocese of London said it will "not be bullied" even into appearing to accept the federal government's so-called "values clause" in applications for the Canada Summer Jobs program.

Bishop Ronald Peter Fabbro said the Diocese needs to 'take a stand' against the government's position

The London Diocese serves about 440,000 Roman Catholics in nine Ontario counties. (File Photo)

The Diocese of London said it will "not be bullied" even into appearing to accept the federal government's so-called "values clause" in applications for the Canada Summer Jobs program.

In a statement Bishop Ronald Peter Fabbro said the Diocese of London needs to "take a stand" on the controversial issue. 

"We will not be bullied into even the appearance of collusion on this issue," wrote Fabbro. "We can make a powerful statement by saying 'No' to the conditions as set down by the government."

The requirement forces organizations to check a box in the application process indicating they respect the values set out in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, including women's reproductive and LGBT rights.

Father John Comiskey, moderator of the curia for the diocese, said checking the box would be a "compromise" the diocese is not willing to make. 

"The government is making a stand on it now, so we have to make a stand to  say 'Well that's not in our core mandate and it's not one of our core values,'" he said to CBC's Afternoon Drive host Chris dela Torre.

Hear more from Father John Comiskey on Afternoon Drive:

On Friday, the government announced it would extend the deadline for applications to the program but would not remove the clause. There were similar extensions to the deadline in 2016 and 2017 as well, which saw a spike in applications.

"We ask that the government remove or change the attestation which is a regrettable infringement of freedom of conscience and religion, of thought and belief, of opinion and expression, as guaranteed in the Charter," said Fabbro.

Won't apply for funding

The London Diocese will not apply to the program, but instead will take up a special collection throughout the month of February which will be distributed to those who intended to apply for the program. Fabbro said they had hoped to receive about $35,000 in funding from the government, some of which went to "valuable" internships for students.

"I am confident that we can respond to this challenge, pooling our resources to support our camps, our interns in the Archives office and in IT services, and our youth in general," said Fabbro.

The Diocese serves about 440,000 Roman Catholics in nine Ontario counties. 

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