Do the right thing: be fair, be just, not expedient or cynical

Ontarians choose a new government next week. The election campaign, alas, has been a tenebrous reflection of politics in the United States.

One glaring societal injustice that was ignored during the campaign by all the parties is the ongoing unfairness and discrimination in the government’s educational funding policies. None of the parties has the desire to finally end the injustice or to talk publicly about doing so.

As our readers know, the government of Ontario continues to rely on the 1996 Supreme Court Adler decision as a justification for doing nothing to make its educational funding policy somewhat, if not entirely, fair toward all the taxpayers and citizens of the province. Ontario remains resolutely indifferent and even opposed to doing the right thing even though the next five most populous provinces do incorporate fairness into their educational funding policies.

But where the political parties have remained cynically silent about this overt injustice, others have raised their voices calling out the shame of maintaining the unfairness of the current educational funding system.

Last week, Richard Moon, Distinguished University Professor and Professor of Law at the University of Windsor wrote an opinion piece for the CBC website entitled “The real barrier to change in Ontario is political”, in which he specifically pointed out the inequities and the incongruities of Ontario’s educational funding.

One of the incongruities of the current system, Prof. Moon explains, is that the separate Catholic schools are themselves placed under increasingly untenable pressure to behave as a secular or public institution when their core mission is, obviously, parochial. “The treatment of separate school as public actors is an unstable and unprincipled alternative to fixing the current system.”

Prof. Moon suggests that the way to “remedy the discriminatory preference for Catholic schools” is to “extend funding to other religious schools.” And then he notes, somewhat sarcastically, that the voters rejected this option in the provincial election of 2007.

In response to his wry but accurate observation, we point out (as we have repeatedly):

  • The province has changed since 2007. A majority has indicated it would prefer the province to offer more choice in education.
  • Much of the campaigning against fair funding in the 2007 election was based on fear-mongering and baseless assertions about the risk that fair funding would entail to the multicultural fabric of our society.
  • Evidence suggests that to enable more choice in education actually improves the educational product and enables the treasury to use limited funds more efficiently.

Prof. Moon concludes his astute editorial: “None of the leading parties is willing to address this issue. They have decided, it seems, that the political cost of doing the right thing is too high.”

What does it say about Ontario’s politicians that despite the contrary example throughout the country, they still refuse to do “the right thing”?

•••

Shabbat Shalom.

GAJE

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