Education Equality in Ontario

Education Equality in Ontario

October 02, 2007 16:01 ET

Education Equality in Ontario Calls for Commission on the Place of Religion in Public Schools

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Oct. 2, 2007) - Education Equality in Ontario president Leonard Baak today called for the establishment of a commission to examine the place of religion in Ontario schools. The call came on the heels of John Tory's dramatic climb-down on the issue of full funding for non-Catholic religious schools.

"John Tory's religious school funding proposal provided the catalyst to start a long overdue conversation on the place of religion in Ontario schools", said Baak, "and that conversation must continue. "Ontario still needs to find a remedy to the discrimination that favours the members of a single religious minority within our school system", said Baak, "The status quo is untenable."

"This election campaign has made two things abundantly clear. First, the Ontario public massively rejects the idea of full public funding for non-Catholic religious schools and a majority also feel that the time has come to rescind full funding for Catholic schools. Second, this is a discussion that Ontarians want to have. In fact, many have talked about little else during the campaign", said Baak. Mr. Baak went on to explain that the Conservatives presumed the outcome of that discussion without actually holding it and that is what angered many voters. Mr. Baak explained that the possibilities for religious school funding run the gamut from full funding to partial funding to no funding at all.

"The Tories attempted to use the full funding of Catholic schools as a political lever to extricate similar funding for other schools under the pretence of 'fairness'", said Baak, "but the problem was they never consulted with the public to see if that was what they wanted." "They completely sidestepped the question we should be asking", said Baak, "which is not 'should we fund non-Catholic schools in light of the fact we fund Catholic schools?', but 'should we fund religious schools at all -- and if so, how and to what extent?'"

"We propose that the time is right for the next government to facilitate a reasoned and thoughtful conversation on the place of religion in Ontario's publicly funded school system", said Baak. "That discussion should proceed unencumbered by artificial constraints and arbitrary caveats such as outdated constitutional provisions designed to address historical realities rather than current ones," Baak said. "Quebec's Task Force on the Place of Religion in Schools provides a useful model for such a discussion", said Baak (see links following).

Reference:

Report of the Task Force on the Place of Religion in Schools. Religion in Secular Schools: A new perspective for Quebec.

HTML: http://www.mels.gouv.qc.ca/REFORME/religion/html-ang/ang/index.htm

PDF: http://www.mels.gouv.qc.ca/REFORME/religion/Integ-an.pdf

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