A Langley woman announced a legal challenge against the feds today, claiming interference by the government in small business.
Tamara Jansen, a retired cofounder in the family business of Darvonda Nurseries in Milner, has been vocal on a number of issues from Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD), and pro-life, to the provincial payroll health care tax in recent weeks and months.
On Wednesday, during a press conference in Ottawa, she argued that the freedoms of business operators are at stake and that the core values of individuals are being attacked by the required guidelines of the Canada Summer Jobs program.
Jansen, in her role as spokesperson for Free To Do Business Canada, announced that Sarnia Concrete in Ontario is the first of several businesses to file a court challenge against the federal government.
She vowed that other small businesses will soon follow suit, after the government’s “anti-business imposition of a values attestation” on the program.
“Any government that determines what values we must hold or what positions we must express in order to access government programs is one that is involved in shocking overreach,” Jansen said.
“The Charter of Rights and Freedoms was specifically created to protect Canadians from such violations.” she added.
Late last year, the government announced that any groups, organizations, or companies seeking funding through the program must sign the “attestation” stating they support the Canadian constitutional rights.
Those rights include reproductive choice (ie. the right to access safe and legal abortions), as well as the right to be free from discrimination on the basis of sex, race, religion, national or ethnic origin, colour, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression.
There was an immediate and significant backlash, and that seems to be continuing with this most recent announcement made by Jansen on behalf of FTDBC.
“The clear hypocrisy of the situation is most obvious when you consider what would happen to a business owner who had this exact same values attestation as part of their hiring protocol,” she said.
“If we compelled our employees to hold to any sort of ideology in order to keep their job, the Human Rights Commission would be all over us,” said Jansen, who is also the financial agent for the Conservative party in Langley-Aldergrove.
She claimed that the legal challenge has nothing to do with “what the government is compelling businesses to say.”
It is, however, about the “simple fact that we are being compelled to say something,” Jansen said.
“Canadians need to be aware that if this case of compelled speech goes unchallenged, this practice will expand to other areas and government programs, she insisted during the press conference.
“If a government has no qualms about forcing farmers, builders, and general contractors to parrot a political ideology for access to funds, then soon, many others will be in the same boat.”
She said FTDBC is throwing its support behind Sarnia Concrete owner Roy Botma, and any other small businesses in Canada who stand up to fight the feds on this move.
Albertos Polizogopoulos with Vincent Dagenais Gibson LLP will serve as legal counsel for these cases.
“Unlike other court challenges of the values test that have been based on freedom of religion, the arguments in these cases will focus on the businesses’ freedoms of conscience, thought and belief protected under the Charter,” Polizogopoulos said.
FTDBC is a non-profit society claiming to champion the democratic rights of Canadian businesses, “free from governments dictating what business owners must think and believe.”