One of the “throw-away” statements of the Supreme Court in the Adler decision of 1996 was that extending public funding to independent denominational schools would risk tearing the multicultural fabric of our society. Madame Justice Beverley McLachlin made the remark even though there was no any evidence to support the proposition.
One could have questioned the remark at the time by asking how the multicultural fabric was holding together in the other Canadian jurisdictions where public funds did flow independent schools. For there was no evidence then, even as there is none today, that independent schools harm the multiculturalism that we cherish about Canada.
Recently released survey results conducted by Angus Reid Institute in partnership wish Cardus, indeed, prove the opposite. (Cardus is a non-partisan, faith-based think tank, and registered charity dedicated to promoting a flourishing society through independent research, robust public dialogue, and thought-provoking commentary.)
The article on the Cardus website summarizes the results of the survey in one unequivocal statement. “The 2019 Public Faith Index has found that the more religious Canadians are, the more likely they are to take a positive view of faiths different from their own. By contrast, when non-religious Canadians were asked whether various faiths were “benefitting or damaging Canada and Canadian society,” they took a dim view of every community but their own.”
The survey – and the article summarizing it – definitively establishes that Canadians for whom faith plays an important role will be more involved, not less, than Canadians for whom faith plays no role, in the pursuing the well-being of the wider community. They will be more charitable, help newcomers more readily and, in general, see the virtue of tolerance for all, since tolerance for all ensures tolerance for one’s own. Respect for other faiths is the path of reciprocal respect for one’s own.
The worry for our multicultural way of Canadian life stemming from public funds for independent schools falsely enshrined in the Adler decision can now be shown to have been falsely established.
The article about the survey is available at: https://www.cardus.ca/news/news-releases/new-poll-tolerance-and-virtue-without-faith/
GAJE, December 20, 2019