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Freedom Party of Ontario


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Public Funding for Religious Schools - Ontario Election 2007

Religious Schools: Hello Public Funding, Goodbye Charter Protection

The religious freedom of schools that accepted public funding would lose the protection of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms; schools could be secularized: McKeever

September 19, 2007, London, Ontario - Freedom Party leader Paul McKeever (candidate in the riding of London West) today is warning that the Progressive Conservative proposal to fund religious schools with taxpayer dollars would deprive participating religious schools of constitutionally-entrenched protections of their religious freedom. 

"The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is a set of laws that limits what the government can do", says McKeever, a lawyer who has studied and written about Canadian constitutional law.  "Ontario's Superior Court of Justice has already stated that a school funded with tax revenues is a 'state actor'; in effect, such a school is legally regarded as a part of the government.  Therefore, once a school becomes publicly funded, its policies and curriculum become regulated by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  At that point, parents or student can use the Charter to have the Court outlaw any aspect of the school's curriculum, school policy, or learning environment that violates the student's Charter rights. 

"The Court has already decided* that, when a student claims his Charter right to equality is violated by a publicly-funded school's religiously-founded policies, the court will overrule the school's religiously-founded policy.  In short: once a school accepts tax funding, its policies, curriculum and learning environment will be overruled if they discriminate on the basis of such things as religious belief or custom.

"Therefore, were a religious school to accept tax funding, adults and their children would gain the power to secularize pretty much any of the school's curriculum, policies, or learning environment.  As examples, schools displaying Christian crosses might be forced to remove them so as not to violate the religious freedom of non-Christian students; religious schools requiring students to wear clothing dictated by the school's religious teachings might be prevented from enforcing such dress codes; schools that morally condemn some aspect of another religion might be prohibited from doing so.

"John Tory's proposal to fund religious schools with taxpayer money is rightly condemned by taxpayers who do not want to see their earnings spent on the religious indoctrination of other peoples' children.  However, at this stage in the election, the Charter implications have so far gone unnoticed.  I think it is important, before voting starts, for proponents of religious schooling also to realize that John Tory's proposal would deprive religious schools of Charter protection.  Those who oppose religious education would be empowered, by Tory's proposal, to secularize religious schools in Ontario."

Freedom Party is opposed to funding schools with tax revenues, whether those schools be government-owned or privately-owned, and whether they be religious or non-religious.  Accordingly, Freedom Party opposes education taxes.  Freedom Party takes the position that parents should instead pay tuition directly to the school that their child attends, whether that school is government-owned or privately-owned, and whether that school is religious or non-religious.  Freedom Party opposes the idea that a parent should pay taxes to support a school that his child does not attend.


In 2002, Mark Hall - a gay male student at a Catholic high school in Oshawa - commenced legal proceedings against the Durham Catholic Separate Secondary School Board because it refused to allow him to bring his boyfriend to the high school prom.  Homosexuality is contrary to Catholicism, and the school principal believed that the usual conduct of students at a dance would lead, in the case of two gay boys, to conduct demonstrably inconsistent with Catholic teachings and with the school policies.  With the assistance and political support of now Liberal health minister George Smitherman, the student brought legal proceedings against the school to force the school to allow him to bring his boyfriend to the prom (case name: Hall (Litigation guardian of) v. Powers).  He was successful at court.  The court granted an injunction forcing the school to allow the student to bring his boyfriend to the prom.   

In its reasons, Mr. Justice Robert MacKinnon stated that:

“In coming to the decision that I have, I have considered that the Board is, in law, a religiously oriented state actor...”  (emphasis added).

His Honour explained that:

“When, as here, a publicly funded school Board establishes and implements policies of general application, it is subject to the Charter” (emphasis added)

Citing U.S. authorities, his Honour stated:

“The United States Supreme Court in Bob Jones University v. United States, 461 U.S. 574 recognized that the State has a right to insist that public funds will not be used to subsidize discriminatory practices, even where it is asserted that those discriminatory practices are founded on sincere religious beliefs” (emphasis added). 

His honour concluded that the school's religiously-based policy breached Mr. Hall's section 15 Charter right to equal treatment without discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.  He granted an injunction forcing the school to allow Mr. Hall to bring his boyfriend to the prom.

It should be noted that although the case of Mark Hall is instructive in explaining how the Progressive Conservatives' funding proposal would deprive religious schools of Charter protection, Freedom Party opposes discrimination by government on the basis of genetic make-up or peaceful lifestyle choice.

For further details, contact:
Paul McKeever, candidate, London West

Paul McKeever's photo: https://freedomparty.on.ca/media/mckeever.medium.bmp
website: https://freedomparty.on.ca
e-mail: e-mail
FPO's YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/fpontario
FPO's 2007 Election Platform: https://freedomparty.on.ca/election2007/platform.page.htm

This media release distributed to all major news media and blogs in Ontario.

Freedom Party of Ontario
240 Commissioners Road West
London, Ontario

Tel: 1-800-830-3301
web: https://freedomparty.on.ca