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Rudderless in Halton. What next?

TORONTO – I am sure they thought they were “doing the right thing”. Four Federal Members of Parliament took time out of their all-consuming fight against the Spread of Omicron to send a letter via twitter (and other digital media) to weigh in on the most urgent matter afflicting the regional municipality of Halton.

No, it is not about the availability of vaccines, the mechanisms in place to deliver them to “the eligible Canadians (in Ontario), the need to help business and society in general to get back to some element of normalcy and not about the responsiveness of federal institutions to the challenges of the moment. It is not about flippant travellers, truckers who cannot do their jobs given federal health protocols and it is not about disruptions to the supply chain currently identified as the culprit for skyrocketing prices and emptying shelves at grocery stores.

Nor is it about the international challenges current Russian politics is posing on Western Alliances, or the American economic sabre-rattling against every country in Biden’s effort to salvage his less than stellar Presidency.

The letter (reproduced below from their twitter pages) was structured to support a specific faction on the Halton District Catholic School Board (HCDSB) desirous of re-opening the debate on flag-raising and flag-flying in the month of June, where and for how long. The issue was discussed and determined last May. The motion to re-open that debate is to be discussed at this evening’s Board Meeting. It is not the only Motion on the Agenda.

(click on the image to enlarge)

One of four, whose bio references her expertise in Corporate Governance, would surely question whether the motion is in order and whether it would meet the test of two thirds majority necessary for it to proceed. Why four Federal MPs, two of them Ministers, thought the issue merited their pole-vaulting over the authority of the Provincial Minister of Education is a discussion that could fill the pages of several newspapers.

That may be a moot point if the judge presiding over the twelve cases of criminal fraud allegedly committed by one of the supporters of the motion effectively makes a decision that could lead to her removal. The four MPs must be anticipating an issue that will reverberate nationally in the same way that Quebec Premier Legault’s threat to impose taxes on the vaccine hesitators has done. More likely they anticipate having to deal with religious and cultural phobias the Motion may unleash.

In short, it is not really a matter in their authority. Not even Jagmit Singh is weighing in on the issues of provincial jurisdiction and religious symbols in areas of provincial authority. The Prime Minister dares not.

The flag-raising has religious implications for denominational rights guaranteed under the Constitution Act, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Education Act (and the Human Rights Code). HCDSB trustees like all Catholic trustees are specifically tasked to preserve and promote them.
One of the Ministers (a Hindu) is a former Law professor and should know that. One of the others is apparently of Jewish faith. A fourth is a former athlete. He alone may be “a Catholic elector” to whom the denominational rights apply.

Regardless, “earnestness” is no substitute for minding your business and protecting the hard worn rights of others under the Constitution and the Charter of Rights.

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