We return one more time, the last for now, to the recent court decision by Judge Fred Myers dismissing the application – by Adrienne Havercroft and James Sutton – that sought to abolish funding for Catholic schools. We emphasize once again, that GAJE’s application to the court to compel Ontario to change its educational funding policy is diametrically opposite to that brought by Havercroft and Sutton.
The original purpose of the 1867 founding constitutional agreement under which funding for Catholic schools was guaranteed in Ontario was to protect the religious Catholic minority. GAJE’s application seeks to shelter under and extend that original, farsighted, nation building purpose to other bona fide religious minorities in the province.
In his comments about the Havercroft decision to the Catholic Register, David Hunt, education program director of Cardus echoed the very point that GAJE has been making these past many years.
“If we’re going to have religious freedom,” Hunt said, “that requires educational freedom to preserve and pass on the faith. If we believe in religious freedom here in Canada, that religious freedom needs to extend through all legitimate faith communities.”
Hunt’s observation is vital.
Preserving and passing the faith, transmitting religious traditions and values cannot happen without educational freedom. But such freedom must be more than theoretical, or merely in the abstract. It must be actual, active, undertaken though the cherished values of Canadian society, and equally as important, affordable and accessible to the families for whom preserving and passing forward their faith is essential to their lives as Canadians.
Hunt noted that making such education available by government to other religious minorities is, in fact, affordable and within reach. Cardus’ analysis showed that an expansion of religious education rights would cost the Ontario treasury between 0.3- to 0.8-per-cent increase in the provincial budget depending upon the model of funding chosen by the province. Thus, the true issue for the Minister of Education, is not cost to the treasury, but rather the political will of the government.
Perhaps, to also demonstrate that the political risk in Ontario in expanding educational protection to other religious minorities is less than the Minister of Education believes, Hunt pointed out that some 61% of Canadians support at least partial funding for other religious school systems as is the case in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Quebec.
In the year 2023, can we not expect our leaders to demonstrate the same generosity of spirit, courage of decision-making and wisdom of policy that the leaders did in 1867? Must it take 156 years for the government to understand that the fair thing to do is also the educationally excellent thing to do? Let us hope that the government will finally act to show that the pursuit of good educational policy and the pursuit of justice are not courses on the road to collision. Rather, they are courses on the road to the enhancement of Ontario society.
If you wish to contribute to GAJE’s lawsuit for fairness in educational funding, please click here.
For further information, please contact Israel Mida at: email@example.com
Charitable receipts for donations for income tax purposes will be issued by Mizrachi Canada. Your donations will be used for the sole purpose of underwriting the costs of the lawsuit.
Grassroots for Affordable Jewish Education (GAJE)
February 3, 2023