Lambton Kingsway church sums up faith-based hurdle
I recently attended a funeral at the Lambton Kingsway United Church in Etobicoke, Ontario. Waiting for the proceedings to begin, I looked around the 1932-vintage structure. On one side of the transcept hung the Canadian Flag, and on the other, the Union Jack.
That the Union Jack still hangs in a Toronto United Church sums up the hurdle Ontario P.C. leader John Tory has when it comes to faith-based school funding. The United Church is certainly as politically-correct as it can be. The hymnal even has Cree translations!
I don’t doubt that the Irish Minister that presided over the funeral that day hasn’t given the flag a second thought since his first week at the church, so many years ago. It is the kind of thing that just hangs, year after year, despite the fact that Canada has had its own flag for half a century.
It matters not whether it hangs as a tribute to our Queen (see prior post “The Canadian Republic“, March 28-07) or to a different era in our country. It is still there, proudly, in urban Toronto.
If John Tory ever needed a single vignette, I think Lambton Kingsway United Church sums it up. The Union Jack still hangs in a place of honour. The Liberal lawn signs a few doors away proclaim that the sitting Liberal MPP Laurel Broten wants voters to help her “Save our schools“; perhaps not as subtle as the Union Jack, but part of the same thematic.
This Wednesday’s election, which was entirely a winnable affair for Mr. Tory, will go down as one of the great missed political opportunities of the past two generations. It rivals the 1979 budget of then Prime Minister Joe Clark. The 21.5 cent per gallon gas tax increase was meant to fix things, too. And that’s back when a litre of gas was less than 30 cents.
The Hon. Bill Davis will be the first to say that he’s proud of his mentee for taking on a issue of principle, even in a losing cause. For the life of me I can’t recall Mr. Davis ever touching a political hot potato in his entire time as Premier. Advisors such as the Hon. Maj. (Ret’d.) Edwin A. Goodman, P.C., O.C., Q.C. wouldn’t let him. Mr. Davis was the king of “non-decisions”. His 1985 promise to fully fund Catholic Schools came at the end of his career, of course, when there were no more elections to fight. Not a move of raw political courage. For all of his soothing words to come, Mr. Davis must know that he would never, as Leader of the Official Opposition, have adopted the policy that has served to skewer Mr. Tory’s chance at becoming Premier.
Twenty-two years have passed since Mr. Davis fully-funded the Separate Schools, and the Union Jack still hangs in the United Church. The negative reaction to Mr. Tory’s proposal could cost stellar P.C. candidates, such as Rick Byers, Tom Barlow and Graham Fox their electoral victories. And the reaction isn’t solely about education, but the repercussions of an immigration policy that seems to foster Canada as a splintering mosaic, not a Nation of people. For Ontarians worried about the absence of Canadian flags flying in front of people’s homes on July 1st (except for places like Markdale and Chatsworth), Mr. Tory’s proposal was one more bad omen.