14 October, 2012

Ontario's Education Minister goes one step too far

Ontario's embattled Minister of Education, Laurel Broten
Laurel Broten, the Education Minister of Ontario,  — a professing Catholic who sends her children to Catholic schools — declared October 10th that the province’s publicly funded Catholic schools may not teach students that abortion is wrong because such teaching amounts to “misogyny,” which is prohibited in schools under a controversial anti-bullying law.

“Taking away a woman’s right to choose could arguably be considered one of the most misogynistic actions that one could take,”  Broten said during a press conference.

“Bill 13,” (The Accepting Schools Act) she asserted, “is about tackling misogyny.”

Passed in June, Bill 13 was formulated in response to a series of teen suicides by students who were victims of bullying from their peers. It requires schools to provide “a positive school climate that is inclusive and accepting, regardless of race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, marital status, family status or disability”. The act specifically mandates that schools - Catholic Separate Schools included - establish “gay-straight alliance” organizations be available where requested (edit added). It seems now that it will also be used to infringe even further on religious freedom by prohibiting Catholic schools from teaching that abortion is immoral.

Asked by a member of the press if it was “appropriate” for Catholic schools to “let kids out of school to go to anti-abortion rallies,” Broten said “in Ontario, we support Catholic education, support the teaching of love and tolerance in our Catholic schools and at the same time support a woman’s right to choose”. In other words, the Liberal government of Ontario — led by pro-choice Premier Dalton McGuinty, (also a Catholic) — supports Catholic education only up to the point where it conflicts with their secularist orthodoxy.

It may come as a surprise to Broten (and McGuinty), but the Catechism of the Catholic Church is quite clear on the subject: “Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception”. Nor does the church consider this merely a private matter: “The inalienable right to life of every innocent human individual is a constitutive element of a civil society and its legislation". It simply is not possible to be a Catholic in good standing and support abortion and its funding by the state.

Putting aside for a moment the particulars of whether or not abortion is right or moral, this initiative by Minister Broten is a gross distortion of what Bill 13 actually says.  Nowhere does the legislation address the issue of abortion services, nor does it grant to the Minister the authority to prohibit the pro-life activities of students individually or collectively.  When this was pointed out to her by a journalist, she replied  “Bill 13 has in it a clear indication of ensuring that our schools are safe, accepting places for all our students. That includes LGBTQ students. That includes young girls in our school. Bill 13 is about tackling misogyny. Taking away a woman’s right to choose could arguably be one of the most misogynistic actions that one could take". She went on to say that Bill 13 forced Catholic schools to adopt gay-straight alliances “so that students feel safe,” and therefore those schools can also be silenced with regard to abortion so “young girls can make the choices that they make". “This is not about being pro-abortion,” she maintained. “It is about being pro-choice”. That “choice,” of course, is the one to have an abortion. Clearly the fact that Catholic teaching states otherwise seems beyond the Minister's comprehension, blinded as she is by her own progressive' agenda.

Minister Broten ignores of the fact that her decision also violates section 93 the Canadian Constitutional Act which enshrines the rights of Catholics in Ontario to a school system in which they can teach their children in a Catholic environment without government interference. While it may be debatable whether or not Bill 13 in its entirety might be constitutional, a matter soon to be taken up by the courts, it's clear that prohibiting Catholic schools from teaching that abortion is wrong is a clear violation of this legal guarantee of the separation of Church and State.

Some have used the argument that since the province pays the Catholic schools to educate its young citizens it possesses the right to demand that its values be taught to them. They argue that  if Catholics are willing to let the province 'pay the piper', it must also allow the education ministry to 'call the tune' when it comes to determining what will be taught. Yet these people are ignoring the fact that Bill 13 applies to all schools in the province... public, separate, or private. Thus, her misguided edict would be mandatory whether or not the province pays for the service. Transitioning the Separate School system into one that's funded by tuitions, donations, and Church funds and removing it from public funding would not protect it from the type of malevolent and improper interference that Ms. Broten is trying to enforce.

Premier McGuinty should immediately remove Ms. Broten from her portfolio as Education Minister for trying to force the Separate Schools to adhere to her personal values and beliefs. As a Catholic, she does not possess the right to demand that the Church change its moral doctrine to fit her wishes. Neither does she possess the authority as a Minister of the Crown to achieve this same end. She has failed miserably as a Catholic and as a member of the provincial cabinet... a fact that won't be forgotten the next time the McGuinty government stands for re-election.


  1. Well said Father Tim.

    Take them to the Woodshed I say.

  2. Thanks for responding to this....we are under attack as Catholics and we need to speak up and let politicians know that they need to be accountable!


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