TORONTO - “Why do we allow Ontario’s Catholic school system to violate the Charter?” This incredible headline appeared October 28, 2022, in one of Canada’s premier print media. It seemed ready made to influence judges currently deliberating the now celebrated case of Del Grande v. the Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB).
The case is a judicial review on matters of Administrative Law, Judicial Procedures (Due Process) Double Jeopardy, Qualified Privilege (the right of an elected official to speak in a duly constituted assembly without fear of litigation). Del Grande’s detractors resent the fact that the trustees of the TCDSB did not find him in contravention of the trustee code of conduct. They succeeded in reopening the case without presenting any new evidence subsequently finding him “guilty” due to trustee Angela Kennedy’s changing of her vote.
Referencing a recent Divisional Court decision re former non-Catholic attendee at a Catholic school in York Region, the writer above (obviously with the approval of the editor) vent verbal spleen on Catholics and Catholicism. Had the Corriere engaged in such observations, it would have been summoned before a Court or charged with hate crimes. As it is, the superficiality of the assumptions contained in the article belies a poor understanding of Canadian history, Constitutional Law, an appreciation of the integration process and the impact of recent immigration on the subsequent demographic composition of what is now the Greater Toronto Area (and beyond).
Consider the first shock-inducing language in the article: “state-sanctioned discrimination […] incubated by our complicity […] children who cannot prove Catholicity may not be granted admission to publicly funded elementary schools […] teachers […] will be denied teaching positions if they belong to the wrong faith […]” The author of these gems assures the readers that Catholics are the “only [religious group] permitted to discriminate when offering admissions, employment, and certain roles within schools.”
The author’s assumption is that Catholics are not a contributing part of the “publicly funded” system; either that, or there is a profound misunderstanding of the evolution of educational funding and the political accommodations negotiated to “simplify” the system without stripping away the rights of the partners to the agreement.
That makes it easier to spread the false and convenient perceptions that Catholics enjoy “plainly unjust (and expensive, and redundant) taxpayer-funded religious education.” And just in case you were not aware, said author claims that the original purpose of the Constitution Act to allow parents the right “to educate their children in accordance with the teachings of their church – is no longer relevant or defensible in 2022.”
That Constitution Act, negotiated in 1867, incorporated agreements with Catholic school boards without which there would be no Canada today. The wisdom of prescient founders ensured that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms signed forty years ago would include clauses that would continue to protect those rights and obligations that the Minister of Education must safeguard. In fact, those protections are recognized in the Human Rights Code.
This may be an inconvenient truth for Catholic haters.
The article’s author is uncomfortable with Catholicism’s position on Life, Abortion and Gender Affirmation. That is fine. One is still permitted the expression of one’s convictions. It is a function of public debate. With all due respect, I am sure that Catholicism stands for much more than what advocates for these “hot-button, click-bait” issues think it does.
Activist journalism (see the American and European journalism) provides only one lens through which the reader is invited to judge facts. We will see soon enough whether the tribunal in Del Grande v. TCDSB come to the same conclusion.
In the pic above, an anti-abortion protest in front of the church of San Carlo Borromeo in Lawrence and Dufferin (photo Corriere Canadese)
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