In a hearing yesterday, April 20, before Ontario Superior Court Justice Eugenia Papageorgiou that lasted an entire day, the Attorneys General for Ontario and for Canada argued that GAJE’s application for fairness and equality in educational funding should be thrown out of court even before it has had the chance to receive a full hearing on its merits.
Counsel for the governments steadfastly maintained that the 1996 Adler decision by the Supreme Court “was entirely dispositive of the application”. They argued that we had not met the test required to set aside a decision of the Supreme Court, namely to show compelling new circumstances or an evolution in the law since the decision in question. They stated that since the Adler case is still “good law”, GAJE has “no chance of success” and thus our application should be dismissed at this early stage.
GAJE’s counsel, David Matas and Jillian Siskind, argued to the contrary. They suggested there are a number of reasons – based upon changing societal and educational circumstances and upon the evolution in the relevant law since 1996 – to warrant allowing our case to proceed through the courts for a full and substantive airing of the important issues related to equality in educational funding under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Education Act of Ontario.
GAJE’s case has “at least a glimmer of hope,” our counsel responded. “It is not baseless,” they said. As a result, the case should be given the opportunity to arrive at the courthouse door for thoughtful deliberation and proper consideration.
Our counsel spoke substantively, forcefully and often eloquently, reminding the judge that GAJE and the other applicants in the case are not seeking special treatment. Rather, we are seeking equal treatment under the law. One argument they raised will be especially familiar to our community.
They pointed out that the Attorneys-General were effectively attempting to freeze the application of the law in Ontario regarding educational funding to a time and to conditions that obtained nearly 30 years ago, in 1996. Citing words from the Supreme Court, however, they reminded the judge that the Constitution of Canada must be seen and interpreted as if it were a “living tree”. It must adapt, to be sure, in a precise and responsible way to ensure its ongoing relevance to ever-changing conditions of modern life.
GAJE’s effort to make Jewish education truly affordable to all families is an effort to help enable permanent, meaningful access to in-depth learning of the ancient-eternal values and way of life enshrined in the Torah. How touching and ironic, that the very plea our counsel made to the judge that she regard Canada’s Constitution as a “living tree”, is actually how our people have viewed the Torah for generations upon generations. It has always been and will always be our “living tree” as well. Our Tree of Life.
Judge Papageorgiou reserved her decision. We will share it when we know it.
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)
April 21, 2023