12.03.2011 09:37 AM

Church-State wall, eroding

Read this story:

“Communications lines drafted by the bureaucracy about the government’s plan to establish an Office of Religious Freedom reveal a deep-seated nervousness about how the venture will be perceived by the public.

…But documents obtained through access to information laws suggest the government is worried about the perception that the office would be used to curry favour with religious and ethnic groups in Canada. And it shows nervousness about the office being seen as an attempt to blur the line between church and state.”

Whose religion? Whose “freedom”?

I wrote in The Walrus that these social conservative lunatics wanted to eliminate the wall between Church and State.

Now that they have their majority, they’re doing just that.

Welcome to the new Canada.


  1. smelter rat says:

    Harper may eventually prove to be the biggest gift to the left that Canada has ever seen.

  2. Brammer says:

    …but it’s okay to perpetuate the publicly funded Ontario Catholic school system?

    • Iris Mclean says:

      No it isn’t.

    • Dan says:

      nope, not at all.

      • Michael Bussiere says:

        It’s funded by Catholic rate payers, who are also “the public”.

        • JenS says:

          That’s highly debatable. Catholics can support Catholic boards through property taxes, but property taxes only cover a portion of Ontario’s education funding. I would be interested in seeing what portion of provincial general revenues are collected from Catholic school supporters. I suspect it’s not even close to enough to pay for the large part of Catholic system funding not covered by property tax revenues. (And, despite my 14 years of Ontario Catholic education, no, I don’t think we ought be funding a religious education system.)

          “Education in Ontario is financed by a combination of property taxes and provincial grants. Ontario’s school boards collectively raise slightly more than half of their total revenue largely from local property taxes on residential, commercial, and industrial properties. The remaining funding comes from the province in the form of education grants.”


    • Cameron Prymak says:

      That was Bill Davis, no?

      • JenS says:

        What Bill Davis did was extend funding past Grade 10; I was one of the first grades through my high school whose parents didn’t pay tuition for Grades 11 through (then) Grade 13.

        • Rene Gauthier says:

          And then they made it possible to transfer schools between boards, rather than have to spend many to build more schools. My school was among those to be on the chopping block (Sir Winston Churchill, Hamilton).

          Lots of protesting took place between 1987 and 1988. And I was among them!

          • JenS says:

            It’s about to happen again. Look for accommodation review after accommodation review resulting in closure after closure, since the funding model hasn’t been altered in a way that takes into account the long-foreseen issue of declining enrollment.

    • James Curran says:

      Actually it’s enshrined in the constitution and the charter of rights Brammer. In case you were wondering and you decide to get goofy on Catholics.


      • John says:

        I read this clause about pre-existing Rights in the Charter: what I am confused by is the action of the Province of Quebec in the past decade to do away with all public religious schools. Now, there are only French and English schools. Point Fini. For a while, as a transition, they offered religious ed. and moral ed. as options, but I think even that has disappeared too. Why could Qc do it and Ontario not?

        • JenS says:

          Three provinces, to the best of my knowledge, have. Neither the Charter nor Constitution are etched, as some would have you believe, on a stone tablet. Quebec and Newfoundland did it by referendum; Manitoba, by act of legislature at the provincial level. Simple. The major impediment in Ontario is the vocal brouhaha it would cause. Look at any school board here any school (particularly any high school; a good current example is PCVS in Peterborough) that a Board decides must close, and the inevitable outcry. It makes it seem the whole community is up in arms (though, usually, it’s a very vocal but small group, largely with vested interest.) Multiply that by the number of Catholic schools out there and the ability of an institution like the Church to amp it up. No provincial politician will be brave enough to take it on – look what happened to John Tory when he simply suggested making the system less discriminatory.

          • JenS says:

            And, Scot, the difference largely comes in the form of duplication of costly line items like administration. It is costly to run two separate but parallel boards in every area of the province.

  3. Kre8tv says:

    Well now that’s odd. I thought religious freedom was already guaranteed under the Charter. I wonder what they possibly could want to do with this office…

    • Ed says:

      The office is under the Min. of Foreign Affairs. It’s meant to promote religious freedoms in other countries, instead of basic civil rights, which would encompass religious freedoms and many other things.

      • Warren says:

        I look forward to their promotion of Scientology and Yogic Flying. Fair’s fair.

      • Kre8tv says:

        Putting aside the obvious problem that the govt is doing this as it embarks on a downsizing of epic proportion…why in the world would we need to draw a distinction in Canada’s external affairs between promoting religious freedoms and other rights of the person?

        • smelter rat says:

          Do you check under your bed for boogeymen every night? WTF does Egypt have to do with setting up a state run bureaucracy in Canada?

        • Kre8tv says:

          Gord, I didn’t realize Canada wasn’t already speaking out against such things. Oh that’s right. We do. Next red herring, please.

        • Ed says:

          I agree that Egypt’s coptic christian population is in constant danger there, but so are pro-democracy protesters! When an islamic fundamentalist state calls for the destruction of Jews, it calls for the destruction of Israel, one of our allies and another democracy we support. You still haven’t set out an argument for an office of civil rights over an office of religious freedoms.

        • Philippe says:

          Gord, you remind me of the says when Nixon saw communists under his bed. I’ve always failed to understand this kind Conservative hysteria. Yes, some Islamic radicals pose a threat, but any reasoned and informed person knows they are in the minority. The governing situation in Egypt has yet to play out – my guess is the end product will be closer to Turkey than say, Iran. The Conservative fear mongering is based on a few tonnes of ignorance- and as you’re now in power, you’re doing our society a disfavor by making statements like the one above. It’s irresponsible and inaccurate. Your view of the world as one with walls between people is a negative and narrow-minded one that does nothing to advance us.

          Please point me to any recent statement by the Egyptian government calling for the eradication of Jews. Maybe I’m wrong, show me the way. But, please, stick to facts to not hysteria.

  4. Ken says:

    October 19, 2015.

  5. W.B. says:

    I guess there’s a difference between a state religious denomination and the state will be religious!
    We will be granted the freedom to be any religion we want, but unbelievers, agnostics and atheists can move outside the big tent. Brings in disturbing possibilities re abortion, sexual orientation, end of life issues and ,yes, school funding and the whole distribution of government grants in science and the arts.
    So the state religion is religion itself, enforced in subtle ways. Is that against the Charter?

  6. Tiger says:

    Canada doesn’t have a church-state wall.

    You of all people should know this, Mr. Kinsella — or else just what was the 2007 provincial election fought over?

    • Frank says:

      It does, however, have a state-wall church.

      Or did, the infamous “Alberta Firewall” letter was written some time ago, and its author shuffled to the national stage.

  7. Sean says:

    this is what voting NDP and Green will get you

  8. riaz khan says:

    This is a very dangerous territory Mr. Harper and his government is entering. I have experienced that personally when you attempt to bring Church and State in one sentence or legislation. Once you pursue that road, there is no end. I was attracted to Canada mostly because religion was a personal matter and not public. Growing up in an Islamist state where religious police hounded on your doors, I saw Canada as a wow…. Country. A country where government is not occupied with religion. I had many fears regarding Mr. Harper when he was elected in 2006. I knew once he formed a majority government, he will pursue on his agenda. Once again, he as a politicians and Canadian has a right to pursue whatever religious admiration he has. However, it is up to the people to stop him to say: we respect your believes but you will not impose them on Canada either through some phony office or legal appointments. Alas, people are too busy doing other things.

    • pomojen says:

      I agree with you -it’s very dangerous. And I worry even more that there doesn’t seem to be much outrage or serious critique. A lot of us take our freedoms for granted in Canada. Those of us who have grown up in relative security, our freedoms largely intact, frequently cannot conceive of it being otherwise. Voices of new Canadians remind us about this stuff. Thanks for hanging around here, Riaz.

  9. Bill says:

    Maybe Canada needs a good dose of religion, instead of suffering a slow rock’n roll decadence and decline. Only failures fear religion, and condemn what condemns their abomination.

    • Riaz Khan says:

      Dear Bill:

      As someone who believes in personal freedoms and people’s right to choose religion or otherwise, I will not argue against your position what Canada does or does not need. However, I do not agree that Only failures fear religion. You see I am assuming that you live in Canada. However, I guarantee you that you might modify your position once you have lived under constant state threat of following certain religious order- no matter how noble that religious order may be.

    • steve says:

      Pastafarians fear a bad harvest from the spaghetti trees, and that fear is as well founded as the basic tenants behind most beliefs.

  10. Iris Mclean says:

    There’s nothing new here. Was it not clear when the Reform “movement” reared it’s ugly head, that it was fueled by toxic bile supplied by the likes of Ernest/Preston Manning, Stock Day and Charles Mcvety? We have a theocracy folks, like it or not. God Bless Canada!

  11. Lawrence Stuart says:

    I am not in agreement with much that I see above. The kind of Trudeauesque laïcité most secularists seem to affirm is a dying creature. Neither is there a future in remaking Canada as a ‘christian’ country.

    We are entering, like it or not, a brave new world, where, in Charles Taylor’s view, ‘we can’t have a civil religion anymore. We can’t have a civil religion around lāicus and the rights of man, and we can’t have a civil religion around any particular view. We are in uncharted territory. We have a challenge to do something unheard of in human history. To have a very powerful political ethic, with a powerful sense of solidarity, which is self consciously grounded on very different views. And this can only succeed if we vigorously exchange with each other in order to create the mutual respect for these different views which otherwise disappears.’

    The link to Taylor here

    • Riaz Khan says:

      Dear Lawrence:

      I agree and I believe that is what I said. However “vigorous exchange with each other to create the mutual respect for different point of view” is different from state or government imposing one idea-religious or not on all. But then again, what do I know…. I still consider myself the dumbest kid in the whole class.

  12. Doug Daniels says:

    Unfortunetely this office will be used to respond only to certiain kinds of discrimination against religious minorities in other countries based on electoral pollitics in Canada. What do youj want to bet it won’t be issuing strong criticism of Hindu fanatics in India or Jewish fanatics in Isreal. This kind of catering to domestic interest groups is one of the most insidious threats to respect among different communities in Canada.

  13. The Doctor says:

    This Office of Religious Freedom is utterly bogus and unnecessary. It was a product of blatant politicking, and it should be scrapped ASAP. But that probably won’t happen.

    Nevertheless, some of the posts above are hysterical and ridiculous — the Office is a foreign affairs matter, and we’re not in any danger of becoming a theocracy or anything like that. Get real.

  14. steve says:

    Next up the Ministry of Silly Walks.
    I sure hope the Pastifarians get their share of the cash.

  15. steve says:

    Go Giant Flying Spaghetti Monster, I demand all nations recieveing Canadian Aid celebrate talk like a Pirate day.

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