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.”

Published in Education

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.

Published in Education

TORONTO - The majority of Ontarians are opposed to the public funding of the Catholic education system, according to a survey by Forum Research.

Of 1,072 randomly selected adults polled on May 14, a standard sample size for Ontario, 53 per cent disagreed with current economic support of Catholic schools. This is a four-per-cent jump since Forum Research last asked the question in January. Forty per cent of respondents favoured funding Catholic boards while six per cent were unsure.

Published in Education

TORONTO - The Catholic Civil Rights League of Canada has challenged the Liberal government's proposed Bill-13 over the anti-bullying legislation's focus on gender and sexual orientation.

Joanne McGarry, executive director of the league, along with league president Phil Horgan, addressed the Ontario government’s standing committee for social policy May 15. They expressed the league's opposition to Bill-13 because of its focus on gender, its infringement on denominational rights and its impact on curriculum.

Published in Education

The NDP wants to grant Ontario Catholic high school students the right to name their anti-bullying clubs a Gay Straight Alliance.

The province’s anti-bullying legislation, Bill 13, received second reading at Queen’s Park on March 26. Before the debate, the NDP education critic said his party wants to resolve the controversy over whether Catholic schools can call their clubs Gay Straight Alliances by letting students decide.

“What we’re considering as an amendment is giving students determination over the name of the committee that takes that up,” said NDP MPP for Danforth-Greenwood Peter Tabuns.

Published in Education

OTTAWA - The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC) warns that Ontario’s anti-bullying Bill 13 could violate the rights of Catholic and private religious schools if it requires them to act contrary to their beliefs.

In an 18-page resource for parents, the EFC praises the approach taken by the Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association’s Respecting Difference policy because it “addresses all forms of bullying equally” and complies with existing federal and provincial human rights laws.

Bill 13 requires all publicly funded schools to have gay-straight alliances, it says. Though the schools may use a different name, the groups must be issue-specific.

Published in Education
February 28, 2012

Anonymity and ignorance

On Feb. 17, the Supreme Court of Canada rendered its decision on a case that tested the right of parents to exempt their children from Quebec’s Ethics and Religious Culture (ERC) course. The case attracted many intervenors because the decision could impact other cases that question the lengths government can go to impose curriculum against parental wishes.

About one month earlier, the Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association released a report, “Respecting Difference,” which set guidelines for promoting equity and respect for all students in Catholic schools. It followed months of controversy surrounding “gay-straight alliances” in Ontario’s publicly funded schools. While there are differences between the two scenarios, both concern a provincial government trying to impose a school policy despite objections from parents.

Published in Joanne McGarry

OTTAWA - An Ottawa-based think tank said mandating gay-straight alliances (GSAs) as part of Ontario government’s anti-bullying strategy will only force students into activism.

The Institute of Marriage and Family Canada (IMFC) warns of negative effects on freedom and equality if Ontario’s Equity and Inclusion Strategy forces students to move “beyond tolerance to acceptance and respect.”

“Diversity will only flourish in Ontario schools when students are encouraged to respectfully interact with different thoughts and opinions,” said the IMFC in its study entitled Ontario’s Equity and Inclusive Education Strategy Reviewed. [DOWNLOAD REPORT HERE]

Published in Canada

There has been a strange silence from the top of the Dalton McGuinty government on the  contentious issue of gay-straight alliance clubs.


The Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association gave its response to the government’s proposal on Jan. 25. Catholic schools will respect differences but will not go against Church teaching, the OCSTA document said.
The document was a challenge to the government’s attempt to steamroll over Catholic schools but also a strong affirmation of religious freedom and the constitutional right of Catholics to run their own education system.

Published in Guest Columns

TORONTO - The union representing 45,000 Ontario Catholic teachers has no objection to gay-straight alliances operating in Catholic schools. The Ontario Catholic School Trustees Association says GSA format as developed in the United States is in conflict with Catholic teaching, and that anti-homophobia clubs in Catholic schools should be called Respecting Difference.

Both sides say there is no conflict between these two positions.

"There's really no difference between OECTA's stance and our stance on serving the needs of all of our students, including those with same-sex attraction or gender-identity issues," said OCSTA president Nancy Kirby.

Published in Education

OTTAWA - The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada has warned Ontario legislators that passage of anti-bullying Bill 13 as is could result in years of tax-funded litigation.

“Before overriding the choices parents make in education, legislators are cautioned that this is not a right to be overridden casually,” write EFC legal counsel Faye Sonier and Don Hutchinson in an open letter sent to Ontario MPPs Jan. 25. “There is an obvious constitutional violation in forcing religiously based schools to establish clubs not endorsed by the faith community, parents or students, or to implement curriculum that disrespects their beliefs.”

Published in Canada
January 31, 2012

No to all bullying

Catholic educators have responded to the controversial anti-bullying initiatives of the Ontario government by politely but firmly indicating they won’t be bullied. Bravo!

The response came from the Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association in a comprehensive document titled “Respecting Difference” that articulates the Catholic perspective on an issue that has become unnecessarily controversial. With input from trustees, bishops, educators and parents, the document exhibits compassion, clarity and resolve as it addresses bullying uniformly, rather than elevating one type of bullying above others.

It should be required reading for all educators.

Published in Editorial

A battle is looming between the Ontario government and Catholic schools after the Education Minister rejected a key component of a new anti-bullying policy from the Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association (OCSTA).

Laurel Broten is insisting that Catholic schools permit single-issue clubs such as gay-straight alliances despite the OCSTA’s outright rejection of such groups in a long-awaited document titled Respecting Differences.

Released Jan. 25, Respecting Difference affirms the Catholic identity of Catholic schools by stating that all clubs and activities must be “respectful of and consistent with Catholic teaching.” The document follows the Accepting Schools Act introduced last November by the minority Liberal government of Dalton McGuinty that would require all schools to accommodate gay-straight alliances or similar clubs under a different name.

Published in Education

TORONTO - The Marshall Medium student newspaper was looking for hot topics for its spring 2011 issue. So when 12th-grader Erica Lenti pitched a story about the gay-straight alliances springing up in Ontario schools, the newspaper staff was sold.

Lenti interviewed staff and students at Marshall McLuhan Catholic Secondary School in Toronto and the article passed through editing. But when Lenti picked up a copy of The Medium, she learned her story had been pulled.

Her facts were incorrect, she was told. Her take: school administrators wanted nothing to do with the topic.

Published in Education

Writing in this paper more than 30 years ago, Cardinal Gerald Emmett Carter wrote that parents in Ontario would lose the Catholic school system when they stopped caring about whether it was Catholic. We might be approaching that moment.


Faced with a premier who seems determined to force issues and teachings that go against Catholic teaching, and a Catholic educational establishment that thinks there is nothing to worry about, parents will have to either fight back to preserve Catholic schools or watch them fade into distant memory.

Published in Guest Columns