I follow Canadian politics really closely and have taken a more active interest in the past year. I have been actively arguing to support the Conservatives Party for supporting funding of Jewish day schools. The Conservatives have created a leaderboard to recognize people contributions to their campaign. Currently I am sitting 4th in my riding even though most of my contributions are off the record.
For the first time ever in an election, the rhetoric and slander in the campaign has on more than one occasion made me feel physically sick to my stomach. So far funding of faith based schools is the only defining election issue. It is at the forefront of the campaign every single day. Last week the Liberal Party website had 2 of the 5 new articles they keep in their headlines condemning funding faith based schools.
Currently in Ontario the government provides 100% percent government funding to secular public schools and Catholic schools. All other schools in the province receive nothing. British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Quebec provide some sort of funding for faith based schools (usually in the range of 60% of what secular public schools get). New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland & Labrador do not provide funding to schools outside of the secular public schools system.
The Conservatives have condemned the status quo as being discriminatory & unacceptable. They have proposed that the 'faith based' schools to be incorporated into the public schools system the same way the Catholic schools are. They would need to hire certified teachers, teach the Ontario curriculum and participate in standardized testing. I believe this is a fair way of balancing the desire for faith based schooling and the government's responsible to provide a proper education for everyone. The Liberals and NDP have stated that they support the status quo. The Green Party is in favour of abolishing funding to the Catholic school board.
What is making me feel ill is the lack of intellectual honesty in the arguments the Liberals have been making. They have been arguing that funding 'faith based' schools doesn't bring children from different background's together. They also argue that It takes money out of the public school system.They have defended their continuing support of the Catholic school system which creates the exact same 'problems'.
When I contacted the Premier in February he told me that funding the Catholic schools was necessary to uphold the governments constitutional obligation. Quebec and Newfoundland & Labrador have received constitutional amendment freeing them from their obligations to support the schools that existed at the time of confederation. Ontario could do the same.
The Liberals have argued they are in favour of supporting 'public' schools and not 'private' schools. This is a complete abuse of language as public vs. private is not the issue at hand. The Liberals have recently stated that funding faith based schools would create social unrest. They have also stated they support the Catholic school system because it is the system the inherited. I am sure glad McGuinty wasn't in charge when Rosa Parks choose to stand up for what was right instead of the status quo. It is funny that the slogan of his last election campaign was 'choose change' There are also the accusations that the Conservatives are catering to the 'ethnic vote' which plays into the hands of the anti-immigrant sentiments that already exist. My e-mails asking for clarification on the government support for Catholic schools have been ignored by the Premier, Minister of Education and my local MPP.
I just hope the average voter is able to see through the political posturing and make an honest intellectual decision to reject the discrimination that exists in Ontario and urge the next government to either support the Green Party plan or the Conservative plan. In the mean time I will keeping fighting for the truth to come out on this topic.