TORONTO - Here is an item of debate: Do Constitutional rights and guarantees remain valid if someone is “offended” by their existence?
Some “peoplekind” are offended that Catholics have denominational rights guaranteed in the Constitution Act, 1982 (formerly the British North America Act, 1867), re-enforced by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and buttressed by the Human Rights Code. Specifically, they have the right to their own schools, where their cultural/religious values must be taught and where they must prevail. The Province dictates the secular academic curriculum.
There is no religious discrimination. Thirty two percent (32%} of Ontario residents identify as Catholic. They contribute through their taxes (property and otherwise) to those schools and those operating as public schools. If one is not Catholic, one is not compelled to attend catholic schools. They and their parents have choices.
What is offensive is that some Catholics, who may not be loyal to the earned constitutional rights they hold as members of a faith group, decide that they can seek office as elected Catholic trustees and then proceed to betray their obligations by tearing down those rights.
At least three trustees in the Toronto Catholic District School Board are even unqualified to seek office because they do not meet the residency qualification.
Equally offensive is the fact that local religious leaders (priests, bishops and cardinals) lack the intestinal fortitude to uphold the rights of their faithful.
Eight trustees at that same TCDSB have reneged on their oath of office.
They are about to swear fealty to the magisterium that they will uphold and promote Catholic values as directed by the representative of the papacy – without which there is no Catholic school system.
One does not have to be Catholic to be a Canadian citizen, but non-Catholics cannot dictate what Catholics can or should hold as religious doctrine. It may well be that there should be diversity of religious thought and philosophy. However, people are members of a religious group because they share a common view of their particular culture.
If others want to critique that culture, good for them; but they have no business trying to poach their Constitutional rights, especially not under some specious claims of religious discrimination. An assault by stealth on another’s rights is as offensive as a frontal attack.
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