Make the case for continued support of the separate school system 2

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janfromthebruce

 One common refrain I hear about the NDP adopting a "one school system" with both official languages is that it would be political suicide. Political Suicide? Where’s the proof?

When asked an opinion on the public’s reception of a government move to abolish the public funding of the Roman Catholic separate-school system, some have said that they thought such a move would be political suicide for any government that tried it. Thus the NDP by officially adopting that policy position would sink the party's fortunes.

Their reason seemed to be "because there are enough Roman Catholics in the province to throw out a government if one dared to do so." However, all evidence I was able to come across leads to the opposite conclusion. Read on.

1) In 1984, then Premier Bill Davis was apparently told by Cardinal Carter that if he didn’t extend full funding to the RC high schools, that the re- election of the PC party would be opposed from every RC pulpit in the province. After Bill Davis made separate school funding part of the Progressive Conservative platform in 1984, the next election reduced his party to a minority and the next election put the PCs in the political basement until 1995. The Roman Catholic vote was no reward for Davis.

2) Such a threat of Roman Catholic voting power has even less credence today because a recent newspaper article stated that: “...while more than one billion people in the world are Roman Catholics, attendance at Sunday mass is less than 5 per cent in North America.”

3) Having a policy of supporting separate school funding did not get the Liberals or the NDP elected when Bill Davis was premier. It was only when Davis double-crossed his supporters, and all three parties supported the full funding of RC schools, that it was possible to foist full-funding on the citizens of Ontario.

4) Going back further, despite intense lobbying by the Roman Catholic church, Wilfrid Laurier, a Quebecer and a Roman Catholic, when in opposition, spoke against a remedial bill in the federal Parliament to force Manitoba to reinstate the Roman Catholic separate school system which the Manitoba Legislature abolished in 1890. The next year Laurier was Prime Minister. The Roman Catholic vote was no punishment for Laurier.

5) Norman Sterling, a PC and the only MPP to speak against Bill 30, the Davis full-funding move, was interviewed in August of 1996. Without hesitation or thought, Norm Sterling’s opinion was that if Ontario had a referendum to determine the mood for removing separate-school funding, the results would be 80% for abolition and 20% for the status quo. PC government polls presumably led to this conclusion.

6) Despite an intense campaign by the Roman Catholic Church in Newfoundland to defeat the proposed school reforms in a referendum, the vote in St. John's, with a majority of Roman Catholics, was more in favour of the reforms than the provincial average.

7) Despite an intense lobbying campaign by the Roman Catholic Church of MPs, and despite a Roman Catholic Prime Minister, and despite a free vote, the constitutional changes for Newfoundland were passed by an overwhelming vote of 171 to 41.

8) With regard to Brian Tobin’s Newfoundland referendum which was 80% in favour of abolishing church control of Newfoundland’s schools, Tobin was asked: "Did you check with the RC church on this?" Tobin's reply went something like this: “I am a Roman Catholic and so are my two colleagues, but we all supported the reform of the Newfoundland school system.”

9) Our own newspaper poll, completed in 1999, revealed that 79.6%, or 5,408 of 6,794 respondents, favoured “...a public school system where all children, regardless of their religious affiliation, attend the same schools…”

10) In Essex County statistics show that there are 1,200 students from homes of separate school supporters who attend the public high schools. There are 700 students from public-support homes who attend separate high schools.

11) A Vector Research poll found that 53% of respondents chose a school based on the quality of the teaching staff, 18% on the proximity of the school to the home, and 17 % on the range of courses and programs. Only 6% made a choice on the availability of religious instruction.

12) The vote and the resulting reform of the schools in Newfoundland to reduce the control of the churches was openly feared by many of the Roman Catholic hierarchy, hence the intense lobbying. They knew that Newfoundland would represent a clear precedent for change and that they couldn’t count on the Roman Catholic vote without a good deal of help. They tried, but they failed.

13) Through submissions to the Estates General in Quebec re abolition of the denominational system, 67% of Quebecois agreed and 88% wanted community schools notwithstanding the religion of the parents. The Association of Quebec Bishops agreed it was time for change.

14) Following other provinces which give more freedom to their citizens, and acceding to a condemnation from the United Nations Human Rights Committee cannot, under any stretch of the imagination, be considered to be "political suicide".

If anyone out there has evidence of the “Roman Catholic vote” affecting the results of a government election where Roman Catholic interests are involved, I would be pleased to be advised of same, because I have not come across any such evidence. The exceptions might be local candidate elections where there is a lopsided ethnic or religious make-up where voters just vote for their own kind, and not for an issue in particular. There is no attachment to this message. ______________________________________________________________________________________ Our kids live together and play together in their communities, let's have them learn together too!

Unionist

Wilf Day wrote:

The rights of a minority group do not depend on the view of the majority, in a state that understands and respects the rights of minorities.

Indeed - that's what Stephen Harper said about the minority who voted for him in October.

Quote:
The church controls the schools only to the extent that the trustees allow it to.

Hence the frequent critiques by the bishops of the Catholic schools, for not following Church dogma to the letter - right? No? Ah well.

 

janfromthebruce

 This should also add to your polling data, where Ontarians want public, Catholic schools to merge: poll

The CBC did the poll through the Oraclepoll Research survey of 600 Ontario adults. The question asked: Do you support or oppose the creation of one publicly funded education system in Ontario by merging the Catholic and public school boards across the province?

Fifty-eight per cent of respondents said they supported the idea, 29 per cent said they opposed it, and the rest said they did not know.

When asked why they felt that way, many respondents who favoured a single school system said there should not be separate boards (17.7 per cent), having a single board would save money (16.7 per cent) and it would create equality (9.4 per cent).

Of those who supported separate schools, many said they think religion is important (10.4 per cent) and separate schools offer better education (8.3 per cent).

Take note, only about 10% of respondents thought that keeping separate schools thought that religion was important. Hence why do we support 4 systems when it appears obvious from this poll and respondents answers that "religious instruction" is not the prime motivator for supporting a separate school system, and all the duplication of infrastructure that it entails (and all the costs associated with it).

______________________________________________________________________________________ Our kids live together and play together in their communities, let's have them learn together too!

janfromthebruce

Wilf Day wrote:

Unionist wrote:
Wilf, you apparently have trouble seeing the difference between public funding of French-language education and public funding of Catholic education.

The difference is clear to all Ontario francophones. We've had public Catholic education since around 1855 or so. We've had public francophone education, for a much smaller minority, for a much shorter time. Should they feel safe?

I want to respond to your comment Wilf, using the "slippery slope" fear ticket of French language public school supporters - as you're next.

1) As mentioned, the french language public school board/trustee association supports a one school system in both official languages.

2) More importantly (and I am a firm believer in bilingualism), there is no conflation whereby one equates religion rights with language rights.

WHY?

We have two official languages in Ontario - English and French. We DO NOT have ANY official religion (not christinanity, or any of its denominations, including catholicism).

That official fact validates our right to distinguish between religion and language rights, and thus to justify our advocating two language school systems, but only one secular school system. 

And to ensure that bilingualism is safeguarded in Canada, our country is an official bilingual country, and thus our two official languages are safeguarded at the federal level, and would require the consent of ( 7/10 provinces and terrorties) to rescind protection of French language rights.

And no, we already know that religious education is not protected under the federal constitution as both Quebec and Newfoundland have shown. Freedom of religion, yes, freedom to funding religious education, no.

______________________________________________________________________________________ Our kids live together and play together in their communities, let's have them learn together too!

Wilf Day

janfromthebruce wrote:
Wilf Day wrote:

Lots of those trustees are New Democrats.

Really - how many????

Excellent question. There used to be some in Toronto, in Hamilton, in Durham (Oshawa), and several other places, and of course in the North. Someone should have a current list of elected New Democrats on municipal councils and school boards. Scott?

Catherine LeBlanc-Miller (former chair) and Maria Rizzo on the Toronto Catholic Board, and perhaps a third. Peter Ferreira, NDP candidate in Davenport in the last federal and provincial elections, was the chair of the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board. Tony Martin, MP for Sault Ste. Marie, was a trustee on the Northern District Catholic School Board. Tony Perruzza and Maria Augimeri started as trustees on the Catholic Board.

John Rodriguez was never a trustee, but became president of OECTA (Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association) in 1968. Anyone who marched in the Days of Protest against Mike Harris will remember a forest of OECTA signs. He spent many years as Sudbury's MP, led the NDP's "Left Caucus" at the 1979 convention (wanting to nationalize Inco, Bell Canada and the CPR), fought for full funding for Catholic schools, and most recently pulled off a comeback by becoming Mayor of Greater Sudbury (he turned 71 last month.)

Maybe there still are some in Oshawa? Mike Breaugh was never a trustee, but he was on the OECTA executive.

janfromthebruce wrote:
Snobleton, former Education Minister didn't share that anology of "creating equity" in why he created 4 systems.

Wrong decade. The four systems existed in 1984 and earlier. Snobelen came in in 1995.

Fidel

And it's like Snobelen is still in government with the McGuinty Liberals. They just wanna dregalate an' privatize everthing including the building of new schools and hospitals through P3's, or is it AFP's now? There's no money except private money.

janfromthebruce

Wilf Day wrote:
janfromthebruce wrote:
Wilf Day wrote:

Lots of those trustees are New Democrats.

Really - how many????

Excellent question. There used to be some in Toronto, in Hamilton, in Durham (Oshawa), and several other places, and of course in the North. Someone should have a current list of elected New Democrats on municipal councils and school boards. Scott?

Catherine LeBlanc-Miller (former chair) and Maria Rizzo on the Toronto Catholic Board, and perhaps a third. Peter Ferreira, NDP candidate in Davenport in the last federal and provincial elections, was the chair of the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board. Tony Martin, MP for Sault Ste. Marie, was a trustee on the Northern District Catholic School Board. Tony Perruzza and Maria Augimeri started as trustees on the Catholic Board.

John Rodriguez was never a trustee, but became president of OECTA (Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association) in 1968. Anyone who marched in the Days of Protest against Mike Harris will remember a forest of OECTA signs. He spent many years as Sudbury's MP, led the NDP's "Left Caucus" at the 1979 convention (wanting to nationalize Inco, Bell Canada and the CPR), fought for full funding for Catholic schools, and most recently pulled off a comeback by becoming Mayor of Greater Sudbury (he turned 71 last month.)

Maybe there still are some in Oshawa? Mike Breaugh was never a trustee, but he was on the OECTA executive.

janfromthebruce wrote:
Snobleton, former Education Minister didn't share that anology of "creating equity" in why he created 4 systems.

Wrong decade. The four systems existed in 1984 and earlier. Snobelen came in in 1995.

Wilf, the 4 systems were created in and around 1997. Only Ontario fully funds 4 systems of education in Canada.

I asked about trustees and not heads of unions. Also, I do know of some Catholic principals who "quietly" support one school system. Obviously from  the popularity of one school system that there are those who identify "catholic" but prefer one school system over division. ______________________________________________________________________________________ Our kids live together and play together in their communities, let's have them learn together too!

Wilf Day

janfromthebruce wrote:
the 4 systems were created in and around 1997.

Here's some history, starting with the abolition of French-language instruction beyond Grade 2 in Ontario in 1912. It took 56 years of lobbying, studies, and reports before Queen's Park finally admitted that the Franco-ontarians were still here.

In 1968, the government officially recognized French-language elementary schools and authorized the teaching of French in secondary schools where numbers warranted (classes of 30 in elementary, 20 in secondary). They were run by the English-language boards, but had francophone Advisory Committees. Bills 140 and 141, establishing primary and secondary French language schools in Ontario, did not resolve all controversies. Secondary school councils still had the power to determine the need for French language education, and in various instances blocked the creation of French secondary schools.

French school crises in Penetanguishene,Windsor, Sturgeon Falls, Cornwall, Elliot Lake, and others kept the issue boiling across the province for years.  

In Ottawa, only the Public Board was allowed to have francophone secondary schools.

In 1974 the francophone community in Ottawa began demanding its own school board. This was part of a wider movement. The courts had been unilingual English, but in 1978 courts in designated districts were required to hold trials in French when requested.

In December 1979, the Ontario government denied the request by all four Ottawa-Carleton school boards for the creation of a homogeneous French-language school board for the region's 21,000 francophone students. The government intended, instead, to establish clearly defined English and French language "sections" on both the Ottawa and Carleton school boards.

In 1982 the Charter intervened, with francophones having the right to French instruction. Further, where numbers warranted, they were given the right to their own "facilities" (schools). Did this mean their own school boards? A long court battle followed.

By Bill 109 in 1988 the Conseil scolaire de langue française d’Ottawa-Carleton was created, with a Catholic Section and a Public Section. A similar Board was created in Toronto. Another 10 boards were, in practice, French-language boards. In 1992 the Prescott-Russell francophone Catholic board was created. 

In 1994 the NDP government dissolved the single Ottawa Board, creating two boards. The NDP's Royal Commission on Learning recommended school governance by and for francophones. 

In 1997 the Harris government's Bill 104 created the mega-boards and implemented the Royal Commission's recommendation. The two Ottawa boards both became regional boards, as part of the consolidation into eight Catholic Boards and four Public Boards.

Maysie Maysie's picture

Long thread, closing for length.

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