Toronto board votes 11-9 [to create an Africentric school] after meeting filled with passionate pleas and dire warnings
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The day after trustees voted to establish what is being called the country’s first Africentric alternative school – expected to open in September 2009 – Gerry Connelly said if a lot of parents want to enrol their children, the board would consider opening up another.
Didn’t Toronto voters universally reject the notion that schools should be segregated along religious lines? Didn’t that cost Ontario P.C. Leader John Tory the election last Fall? And the difference between a school focused on race and a school tied to one religion is…?
Down at One Yonge Street, The Toronto Star has concluded, without a hint of irony, that there’s something different between a school focused on a single race and a school focused on a single religion.
Provincial Education Minister Kathleen Wynne said yesterday that “We’ve been clear from the beginning of this discussion that our preference was to have kids learning in inclusive environments and inclusive classrooms. I made it clear in my remarks, and they know there is not special funding for alternative programs or alternative schools. They have to find that within their own budgets.” I think she’s saying they can do want they want.
Does that mean the Toronto School Board is free to set up new religious-centric schools, as long as they can find the funding within their own budgets?
Here’s an idea for Toronto religious leaders: wait for the Africentric school to be built, then hold a fundraiser to get the funds together to pay for a Muslim/Christian/etc.-centric school. Ask the Toronto School Board to build you a new school with these funds. When they refuse, as I’m sure they will, ask Canada’s Supreme Court to intervene.
After all, Canada’s Constitution says:
Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.
Once they agree to build a school for one race, how can they possibly refuse to build one for a particular religion, or gender for that matter, under the supreme law of the land?
I would like to avoid going on a rant… but what is the matter with this Province? The public school system that just makes you shake your head, the Beer Store monopoly that is owned predominately by foreign companies, the $165M Provincial Venture Capital Fund that, by all initial accounts, will reduce the amount of available capital the Ontario VC industry, the rising cost for public services that are crumbling to the ground… This isn’t rocket science, look around the Country, most of the other Provinces are doing a way better job than Ontario (which has more than 35% of Canada’s population!).
School System: Didn’t we set up the Catholic School Board to appease Quebec? They got rid of theirs years ago… I don’t get it? One public school system for all children in the Province; seems pretty straightforward. Private schools – go right ahead! With all that is going on in the World today, shouldn’t we be putting systems in place that support and help diversity flourish in our Country? Isn’t that what makes Canada special?
Beer Stores: I don’t have a problem with the LCBO, I think it is a very well run operation, providing exceptional selection and service, while helping fund other provincial programs ($3B in net income)… but there is absolutely no reason that you shouldn’t be able to buy a case of beer or a bottle of wine at 10:45pm on a Friday or Saturday night from a local merchant. Seems to work just fine having Cold Beer & Wine Stores in combination with the BCL and SAQ in BC and Quebec… not to mention that most of the profits from the purchase of your next six-pack are going, exclusively, to Belgium (InBev), Japan (Sapporo) and the US/Canada (Coors-Molson).
As I am running out of time, I will save the VC industry and public services for a later date… I have to drive over to Quebec to pick up a bottle of wine for dinner tonight.
Toronto’s inclusive multiculturalism is undoubtedly one of its greatest assets. This ruling is more than unfortunate as it chips away at what makes our city great and unique.
While I agree with your point about equality, you forget the follow on in the next section of the Charter, namely your quoted text “does not preclude any law, program or activity that has as its object the amelioration of conditions of disadvantaged individuals or groups including those that are disadvantaged because of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.”
In short, if it can be shown that the program is helping a historically disadvantaged race, then a religious group wanting the same treatment cannot resort to the Charter unless they can show they are similarly disadvantaged.
That being said, I fail to see how segregating (ghettoizing?) schools will help.