David Matas was featured in an article last week in Canadian Lawyer Magazine. Under the headline, Human Rights Lawyer David Matas Continues to Fight for The Dispossessed, the author of the article, Zena Olijnky, briefly traces Matas’ family history as the inspiration, the incubating source, for his lifelong dedication to the betterment of humanity.
Olijnky writes “with such a family legacy, it’s easy to see why…Matas would be such a passionate advocate of campaigns to stop human rights abuses around the world. He has been involved in numerous national and international human rights groups and was named to the Order of Canada in 2008 for his contributions to human rights legislation and immigration and refugee law.
“In 2010, Mr. Matas and former Edmonton MP David Kilgour were nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for four years of investigative work into allegations that Falun Gong followers in China were being killed for the harvesting of their organs.
“In January, Matas was awarded the first-ever Global Humanitarian Leader of the Year award by the human rights group Canadians in Support of Refugees in Dire Need (CSRDN). The award recognizes outstanding individuals, organizations and programs that “uphold the principles of peace, justice and mercy, irrespective of race, colour or religion.”
“Matas has also been a long-time senior legal counsel for B’nai Brith Canada. Recently, the organization has launched a new law society, named in his honour. It will operate as a subcommittee of B’nai Brith Canada’s League for Human Rights.”
Matas is also a Senior Fellow with the Montreal-based Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights, whose website describes him, in part, as “a voice of conscience in Canada and beyond, he has been a leader in the most important international human rights struggles of the era.
We call readers’ attention to David Matas’ expertise and wide local and international renown because he is the leader of the legal team that will try to bring an end to Ontario’s discriminatory educational funding policy. We want readers of this update and supporters of this cause to understand that the values that inform the teachings, traditions and morality of the Judaism that Jewish education can transmit to our children, are the very same values that underpin advocacy “to stop human rights abuses around the world” that has been the life’s work of David Matas.
Seeking to end Ontario’s unfair, unjust, discriminatory educational funding is part of the same human rights fabric that strives to “uphold the principles of peace, justice and mercy, irrespective of race, colour or religion.”
Ontario is the only province that fully funds the education of the adherents of one faith alone (Roman Catholics) within its public education system. Moreover, it is the only province outside the Maritimes that does not contribute any funding whatsoever to the general studies portion of its independent schools.
This discrimination must finally end. Years of waiting and lobbying and hoping for various Ontario governments to change this policy have been in vain. We are now turning to the courts for a remedy.
Ontario does not suggest that its policy is fair to non-Catholics. Rather, it believes it is immune from being legally compelled to change its policy because a 1996 Supreme Court decision upheld its legislation, based largely on what many now consider to be an antiquated view of the relationship between our Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the 1867 Constitution. It has been more than 25 years. The world, and the law, have changed. The Supreme Court now recognizes that conditions evolve and change is possible and sometimes even necessary. In fact, it has reversed itself in several major cases in the last few years. Old decisions are not written in stone.
Since 1996, the situation in Ontario has changed. Polls suggest a majority of Ontarians are in favor of more choice in their children’s schooling. In addition, there have been changes in the development of the law. The legal team believes that our case is compelling, in step with changes since 1996 in the delivery of education here and in other provinces, and resonant with majority attitudes to eliminate blatant discrimination in favour of a fair and just policy. Success in the courts would result in permanent financial benefits for Jewish schools, and would have far-reaching positive effects on the community as a whole.
But to bring this case and our cause before the courts…
We need your assistance
Our lawyers are donating much of their time and expertise. The cost for prosecuting the case, from the trial phase to the end of an appeal in the Supreme Court is in the range of $250,000. Thus far we have raised about a quarter of the funds needed. We need your help to raise the rest. Our request is foundational aimed at ensuring the permanence of all the schools and thereby improving the lives of families in our community for all time. Moreover, it is a one-time request to cover legal costs, as we have stated, through to the outcome at the Supreme Court of Canada.
Please join us in making this happen! Please tell your friends to join in our effort.
This is our generation’s opportunity to correct the educational funding injustice that has wounded so many families in Ontario for more than 25 years. If we do not try to end the injustice, who will? Charitable receipts for donations for income tax purposes will be issued by Mizrachi Canada.
To donate to this important cause, please click here.
For further information, please contact Israel Mida at firstname.lastname@example.org
Be safe. Be well.
Grassroots for Affordable Jewish Education (GAJE)
July 9, 2021