Catholic Education

TORONTO - Despite concerns expressed by Cardinal Thomas Collins, the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA) says it supports students’ rights to form gay-straight alliances (GSA) in Catholic schools.

In a May 29 news release, OECTA president Kevin O’Dwyer said, “Providing safe, inclusive environments and eliminating bullying wherever we can is paramount. If the students feel that a club should be called a GSA — that it makes a difference to them — then, we respect and accept that choice.”

Residential schools are relevant to all Canadians


TORONTO - “Canadians from before have done a great disservice to Canadians who are new by not telling the story, the true story of this country,” said Estella Muyinda.

Muyinda was born in Uganda. Today she is a lawyer and just as thoroughly Canadian as everybody else in line at Tim Horton’s — and more than some. She’s spent time in Inuvik and Tuktoyuktuk in the Northwest Territories. In travelling the country she has learned about the first of Canada’s three founding nations.

Broten affirms constitutional rights of Catholic education


The Ontario government respects the constitutional rights of Catholic education and is committed to its continuation, said Education Minister Laurel Broten.

Speaking to The Catholic Register in the wake of Cardinal Thomas Collins calling the Liberal's amended version of Bill 13 an infringement on religious freedom, Broten also rejected calls from some politicians and media for a single, secular education system.

"I've been very clear," she said. "The premier's been very clear. We respect the constitutional protection of Catholic education and that conversation is not on the table."

Martin Sheen’s activism is all in the family


Martin Sheen grew up in a home where rights were something you fought for.

The actor’s activism was inspired by his immigrant father who risked his factory job fighting for the right to unionize despite having 10 children and a wife at home relying on the wage he earned.

“It was an introduction into the real world,” said Sheen, recalling his father’s teachings of pride against prejudice. “My father was my hero, he struggled against prejudice (and) against the system basically.”

Areas of Bill-13 could invite a court challenge against GSAs on Constitutional grounds


OTTAWA - The Ontario government’s controversial Bill-13 could face a court challenge on six different points, a constitutional lawyer told an Ontario government social policy committee hearing. During a May 22 submission, Albertos Polizogopoulos, an Ottawa lawyer who practices primarily in the areas of constitutional and civil litigation, gave the committee an inch-thick document that highlighted previous Supreme Court decisions related to religious freedom.

“Nobody has a right to insist Catholic schools become non-religious or non-Catholic,” he said.

TCDSB ombudsman motion shot down


TORONTO - An initiative to improve the accountability of the Toronto Catholic District School Board by appointing an independent ombudsman has hit a legislative roadblock.

“The ministry is telling us that we cannot create our own ombudsman role,” said Ward 9 trustee Jo-Ann Davis, who is leading the initiative. “It seems odd to me that our Ministry of Education is not allowing Toronto Catholic to be as accountable as it wants to be.”

Father of suicide victim pleads for anti-bullying bill that protects all students


OTTAWA - The father of suicide victim Jamie Hubley made an emotional plea for the Ontario government to stop focussing on same-sex bullying and draft an anti-bullying law that does not single out any group for special treatment.

“I ask you to protect every child equally,” said Ottawa City Councilor Hubley.

He was speaking May 22 at an Ontario government social policy committee hearing on two proposed anti-bullying bills, the government’s Bill 13 and the Conservative’s Bill 14 (renamed Bill 80).

McGuinty speaks on GSA controversy: ‘I’m accountable to all faiths’


Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty has rejected Cardinal Thomas Collins call for flexibility and inclusivity, insisting that gay-straight alliances will be enforced by law and available for every student in the province who wants one.

Speaking on May 29, the morning after Collins issued his objections to controversial Bill-13, McGuinty said Collins has his “responsibilities” but “I have a different set of responsibilities.”

GSA reversal puts church and government on collision course


The Liberal government of Dalton McGuinty has pulled a dramatic about-face by breaking a pledge not to force Catholic schools to use the term gay-straight alliance for anti-bullying clubs.

Instead, Education Minister Laurel Broten has announced an amendment to Bill 13 to make it mandatory that Catholic students be allowed to name their clubs gay-straight alliances if that is their wish.

"Under our amendments (to Bill 13), no school board or principal can refuse to allow students to use the name "gay-straight alliance" to describe their clubs," Broten said in a letter released to Liberal supporters on May 25.

North York principal earns top TCSAA sport award


TORONTO - Grace Iafrate does one thing really well — she gets kids moving.

For this, she has received the 2012 Victor Angelosante Award.

"(I) look at sport as an avenue, a way to bring out other talents and gifts," said Iafrate, principal at St. Boniface Catholic School in North York. "It's a great honour to be recognized with the 17 other (past) recipients."