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
"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
In its reasons, Mr. Justice Robert MacKinnon stated that:
His Honour explained that:
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.
Paul McKeever's photo: https://freedomparty.on.ca/media/mckeever.medium.bmp
This media release distributed to all major news media and blogs in Ontario.
Freedom Party of Ontario