In the best interests of all Canadians

The CJN recently published a comment by Josh Leiblein entitled “A Guide to Jeiwish Issues in the Federal Election”. In his commentary Leiblein reflected upon why some of the issues of concern to our community seem to resonate with the wider community while other issues do not. He suggested that the framing of the issue is determinative of its broad acceptance in the Canadian demographic landscape, ie, whether the issue is seen as narrowly particular to the Jewish community or as more widely universal to Canadians.

He challenged community leaders to “make the case that our community’s intentions are in the best interests of all Canadians, not just Jewish Canadians.”

Leiblein was correct in his analysis.

However in citing the lack of fair funding for faith-based schools as an issue perceived as distinctively Jewish and thus a “loser for the Canadian Jewish community,” Leiblein somewhat overstates the matter. For the issue is a “loser” only in Ontario.

All the western provinces and Quebec long ago decided to provide public funds – to some extent – to faith-based and secular independent schools. Apart from the Atlantic Provinces, where numbers do not warrant such interventions, Ontario is the outlier in Canada in refusing to extend funding to faith-based independent schools. 

The rest of Canada – again except in Atlantic Canada – understands, accepts and adopts the notion that helping fund at least part of the general studies portion of independent schools is entirely in accord with the values and principles entrenched in The Charter of Rights and Freedoms and a minimum testament to fairness. It happens also to be ultimately more economically efficient even as it creates conditions for better educational outcomes.

With the proper, factual framing of the issue, it is highly questionable whether the Ontario electorate would today reject funding some portion of independent schools, as it did more than 12 years ago in 2007.

Educational funding falls within provincial not federal jurisdiction. Thus the issues does not arise in the upcoming federal election. But readers must realize, nevertheless, as GAJE has been saying since its founding and as experience in other provinces persuasively shows, extending some funding to the general studies curriculum of independent schools is indeed, as Leiblein wrote, “in the best interests of all Canadians, not just Jewish Canadians.”

The full Leiblein commentary is available at: https://www.cjnews.com/perspectives/opinions/lieblein-a-guide-to-jewish-issues-in-the-federal-election

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Shabbat Shalom

Gmar chatimah tovah

GAJE, October 4, 2019

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