Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty wikimedia.org

Bill-13 has far too many flaws

  • June 13, 2012

The Ontario government’s so-called anti-bullying legislation, Bill-13, is a failure of lawmaking.

It mocks religious freedom and disrespects parental rights. It undermines the authority of elected trustees and school principals by giving veto power to children and teens with respect to some after-school clubs. It awards special status to certain types of bullying rather than uniformly attacking bullying in all its forms.

Passed into law on June 5, Bill-13 may be politically correct (and politically expedient) in how it addresses matters of gender and sexual identity, but it is religiously insulting, culturally divisive and legally flawed. Conceived for the right reasons — to make schools safe and welcoming for all students — Bill-13 was hijacked by special-interest groups who led malleable Liberal and NDP politicians into a law that, say legal experts, runs afoul of various Constitutional and Charter rights.

Dalton McGuinty, emboldened by shameful support from the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association, haughtily rejected the balanced approach offered by Ontario’s Catholic trustees and bishops in their document Respecting Difference. Instead, he caused Catholic leaders to be unjustly painted as intolerant and homophobic and his actions sparked a firestorm against Catholics in general and Catholic education in particular. It was conduct unbecoming of a premier.

But Bill-13 has had at least one positive outcome. It has energized Catholics and rekindled appreciation for Catholic education in Ontario. We have been flooded like never before with letters from frustrated, saddened and angry readers. Therefore, this week’s Catholic Register editorial is abbreviated to allow more of our readers to speak out on this heavy-handed new law. You can view their comments and letters below.


Letters from the June 17th 2012 edition of The Catholic Register

Betrayed by OECTA

I am deeply disappointed in the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association, of which I am a paying member. Delegates at the 2012 OECTA annual general meeting voted overwhelmingly to support Bill-13. Before the vote, delegates were read a letter from Cardinal Collins calling upon Catholic teachers to stand with the Church. Instead the union chose to stand with the government. My union has betrayed the Church and betrayed the best interests of students. Catholic teaching on sexuality and Catholic religious liberties are gravely undermined by Bill-13, and OECTA is contributing to this. OECTA’s public rejection of Cardinal Collins emboldened Dalton McGuinty’s government to be even more aggressive in forcing its agenda on Catholic schools.  Last year OECTA imposed a $60 levy on members to build a war chest to support the Liberals in the provincial election. It seems clear OECTA identifies more closely with the Liberal government that signs our cheques than with the Catholic Church. I feel betrayed by my union. 
Joe Bissonnette,
Brantford, Ont.

Symptoms of a bully

Dalton McGuinty does not understand the meaning of bullying. The reason that he does not understand is quite simple. He possesses the symptoms of a bully. He intimidates, browbeats, is quarrelsome, is blustering and he threatens people who disagree with him. Now is the time for all Catholic school trustees, all teachers, all people who are Roman Catholics (in practice not just in name) and all Christians of other denominations to unite.

Gord Nixon,
Barrie, Ont.

Suppression of rights

Our Catholic premier has disappointed us by not showing any respect for Cardinal Collins. Many of us came to Canada from countries where there is extreme violation of rights and religious persecution, thinking that in this country we could practise our faith freely. But we find with regret that we still face suppression of our rights and values. This too is a form of persecution.

Antoinette David,
Scarborough, Ont.

Classic bullying

Bill 13 is not about bullying but is the channel to the “gender” curriculum. Why is the government totally disrespecting what the Assembly of Ontario Bishops is suggesting — Catholic school boards and schools will monitor incidents of bullying and (apply) the discipline which has always been followed without government intervention. We would define the government’s attitude as a classic example of bullying. This Bill will foist on our children and youth the concepts of transgender, trans-sexual, intersexed and two-spirited, which we parents do not fully comprehend. We have not delegated our parental responsibilities to the government. 

Ancilla Campos,
Markham, Ont.

A matter of law

Every school case that has ended up in the Supreme Court of Canada has encountered the same barrier since 1867: “In and for each Province the Legislature may exclusively make laws in relation to Education, subject and according to the following provision . . . Nothing in any law shall prejudicially affect any right or privilege with respect to the denominational Schools which any class of persons have by law in the Province at the Union.”

Fr. Carl Matthews, S.J.
Pickering, Ont.

A sad day

It is a sad day when an educational institution must teach and promote a lifestyle that is contrary to its fundamental reason for existence. Freedom and freedom of religion has just been destroyed. Contrary to what seemed a good financial arrangement in the 1980s to obtain government support, it has now turned into a colossal mistake. Unfortunately, Catholic teachers and their bishops have been very lax in maintaining their difference from the secular public system by the promotion of true Catholic education.

Marilyn Hansen,
Coleman, Alta.

Defend the faith

Cardinal Collins ought to have done a better job of defending the Catholic faith. Who will defend the faith if the Church leaders do not? He should not have bowed down before Mr. McGuinty. Although I read his defence of the faith on a church web site, the document was not issued to be read at all churches in the diocese as it ought to have been, so few people knew about it. At least he ought to have excommunicated McGuinty.

Leslie J. Sharples
Etobicoke, Ont.

Lamentable decline

Bill-13 is yet another example of the lamentable decline of religious freedom in this country. What is the point of having a separate system if the government of the day can force the implementation of secular values on it? The fact that the English “Catholic” teachers’ association has backed this illustrates the decline that has already taken place in Catholic schools. The reason this is happening is that Catholics are allowing it to happen. We are complicit in our silence.

David G. Bourke,
Scarborough, Ont.

Picture imperfect

Whatever the reason for putting Laurel Broten’s photo on (the cover) June 5, it was a poor decision, given how disliked Broten has become among Catholics. She represents sneaky attacks on parental rights, religious freedom and the Catholic Church. Perhaps a photo with people protesting against the bill or an image of Catholics being silenced would have been more appropriate.

Kwan Ho Leung,
Markham, Ont.

Force is required

It is time the Catholic Church took Premier McGuinty and his puppets to the Supreme Court and settle this issue. The Church has been too lenient on this important issue. More force is required.
Form a large protest, march to his office, demand change to the wording of Bill-13. I can’t understand why McGuinty doesn’t leave the Catholic Church and join another church that supports his views.  

Deacon Moran McMahon,
Orleans, Ont.

What’s next?

I wonder how many of us who tried 12 years ago to convince the executive of the Catholic Women’s League of Canada to not support the World March of Women 2000 because of its platforms — which promoted homosexual rights and access to abortion — had a feeling that the state of affairs for our faith would deteriorate so quickly. What is left to be legislated in Ontario, except the blessing of gay unions, or allowing weddings of same-sex persons in our Catholic churches? Will our bishops stand by and watch this happen, too?

Claudine Goller
Scarborough, Ont.

A weak response

I am disappointed by the weak response by the Canadian bishops to this legislation. It should now be challenged in the courts. Perhaps a class-action suit by lay Catholics is called for. After all, our so-called “Charter Rights” have been trampled on. I would gladly subscribe to such an initiative.

G.E. Tim Wood,
Toronto, Ont.

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