IS IT TIME ONTARIO FUNDS ALL RELIGIOUS SCHOOLS?

In September, Premier of Ontario Dalton McGuinty made a bold decision. In scrapping plans to use Shariah law in family mediation in Ontario’s courts, he no doubt saved taxpayers a mint in legal costs, had he simply just denied the right for some in the muslim community to use this archaic backward law. The way this was achieved was to simply remove all forms of religious mediation. While I do not personally think this is the best situation, it is no doubt the only one that would be respected by our courts.

As well, it seems to be fair, and does indeed treat all citizens the same, which is what so many espouse in our society today. Perhaps it is time for Mr. McGuinty to expand the fairness to the realm of education. Canada is based on a free market economy. It has been proven to be the most productive and stimulating type of economy in use, mainly because people are given choices, and this provides the impetus needed for those who wish to provide their goods and services to us to excel, whilst mediocrity quickly falls to the wayside.

Why is it that the best force available to promote excellence is not put to use on the two areas that voters claim to cherish the most, that being health care and education? While health care is an important issue to all of us, I want to deal with the education aspect.

In Canada, we constantly hear that everyone has the same worth. We are told that all should be treated equally under the law, regardless of race, nationality, gender, or religion. Why is it then, that Premier McGuinty was so dead set against the previous Conservative government’s legislation to extend tax credits to those parents who felt compelled to send their children to institutions that reaffirmed their particular faith? Why is it that we live in a province where being Catholic affords you the luxury of not having to pay to have your child educated in a setting conducive to the promotion and affirmation of your faith? While I fully support this, it leaves me kind of confused as to why one group is receiving preferential treatment.

A mere 2% of Ontario children attend alternative schools, that being other than the public and Catholic systems, and a growing number are being taught by their own able parents. Since Mr. McGuinty claims that the public system is so wonderful, and so revered by the citizens of this province, what harm would it cause to extend some financial help to all of the parents who choose to educate their children in a setting that is more in tone with their religious beliefs? If no group received funding, then I suppose this argument would have no steam. The reality, however, is just the opposite.

The United Nations, that organization that the Liberal government embraces so tightly, has itself condemned this practice in Ontario as completely unacceptable and discriminatory. It must also be noted that in Western Canada, faith based schools receive substantial funding. The suggestion that funding religious schools will undermine the public system is totally unfounded, with no proof or facts to back up that claim whatsoever. Many jurisdictions, globally, and in Canada, extend funding with no negative effects on its public system.

It is time for Ontario to come to a fair decision, and to extend the means for a quality faith based education for all of its children.