10.08.2015 10:02 AM

KCCCC Day 67: Dear Mr. Coyne


  • Andrew Coyne has a column in this morning’s paper. It basically takes the position that what Stephen Harper is doing on values was done before by Dalton McGuinty. You can read it here.
  • Among other things, he is wrong. Three reasons. 
  • One, John Tory’s policy would have had unhelpful consequences. It would have required that the Ontario taxpayer fund schools run by The Church of Satan, the Raelians, and The Church Of Scientology. At the time of the 2007 election, in fact, the Scientologists had two operating schools in Ontario. A lot of us didn’t want to see them receiving public funding, although John Tory apparently did.
  • Two, it was a policy promoted by an opponent, and we opposed it vigorously, as we should. Among other things, we found his judgment about education to be suspect. Here, for example, is John embracing the idea of teaching creationism in schools. Stockwell Day, all is forgiven.
  • Three, the solution to inequality is not chaos. If it is unfair that one religion is funded and others are not – and it is – the solution is not to transfer public monies to Scientologists. The solution is to state that you will be seeking a constitutional amendment to remove funding from the separate system. But Tory didn’t do that. He was the one who was attempting to stir up resentments and divisions between religious groups, not us.
  • Anyway. There’s no point in fighting old battles – particularly since we won that battle, with the overwhelming support of millions of Ontarians, too. In conclusion, then, does Andrew think that those millions of Ontarians are bigots, too?


  1. bigcitylib says:

    Andrew is full of shit.

    If I remember correctly, McGuinty mentioned madrasses maybe once or twice towards the end of the election (maybe in one of the debates). And while I don’t think that was his proudest moment, it is hardly why Tory’s campaign flamed out or even why his education policies proved so unpopular. As WK notes, the Creationism issue–first Tory said it could be taught in schools, then not–put the first dent in it. Then his statement that these church schools would have to teach the Ont. curriculum, and therefore could not engage in gay bashing, pissed off some of his own supporters. And so on. By the end of the campaign his plan had offended everyone.

    If there’s one thing about Dalton’s musings re madrasses that I didn’t like it was that there seemed no point to it. The PCPO campaign had already crashed by then. Why kick a dead horse?

  2. Kenz0s says:

    This is rubbish from Andrew Coyne! Stephen Harper, Jason Kenney, et al, have quite deliberately lobbed a race-baiting, stink bomb right into the middle of this campaign. Dalton McGuinty most certainly did not do that.

    I worked for a Liberal MPP at Queen’s Park back when DM was Opposition leader well before he was first elected Premier in 2003. His opposition to funding for religious schools was as principled and consistent back then (the offices of Michael Bryant and Monte Kwinter and a few others tried hard to advocate it as I recall,) as he was later and in the 2007 campaign.

    Coyne is wrong, wrong, wrong in this comparison.

  3. Scott says:

    It’s the old false equivalence at play. Coyness wants to be seen as equally critical of all parties.

  4. Lance says:

    In conclusion, then, does Andrew think that those millions of Ontarians are bigots, too?

    That is one of the questions in general applied to the rest of the country when the question of the niqab is raised, isn’t it? ARE over 3/4 of Canadians “bigots”? Oh, but hacks who disagree call it “dog-whistle politics” when the majority doesn’t agree with them, but when the majority agrees with an issue that THEY support, the majority is “on-side”.

    Did I read that correctly here that “voters are never wrong?” Are they wrong now?

  5. Matt says:

    Unless I misinterpreted, Coyne is saying the positions of McGuinty are not bigotry, but is nonsense.

    “The two-thirds or more of the Canadian public that polls show favour the niqab ban, for example, is rather more than a small slice of the population. I very much doubt you could rally such support for outright bigotry, and I don’t think that’s what’s going on. It’s not a hate campaign or even a fear campaign so much as a nervousness campaign. And it thrives not by appealing to intolerance, but to tolerance: not to our worst side but, perversely, to our best.”

    • Lance says:

      “I very much doubt you could rally such support for outright bigotry, and I don’t think that’s what’s going on”.

      Bang on.

      • Bluegreenblogger says:

        I do not rely on Coyne to ‘interpret’ my mother tongue. He claims that since so many people are agreeing with it that it cannot be racism or bigotry. I did not know there were relative standards of bigotry and racism. I is precisely WHEN people are subscribing to bigotry and racism in large numbers that it is incumbent on us, everyone of us to call a spade a spade. Coyne is right that such a large number of people would not knowingly support a racist policy. If people stopped and thought about their ‘position’ on niqabs and whether or not it was racist, they would probably moderate their beliefs. But they will not do so as long as they are given a fig-leaf of public opinion, and false words to hide behind.

  6. Raj says:

    We’ve had funding for private religious schools in Alberta for years, and the sky hasn’t fallen. Funding one religion and not other is profoundly illiberal. It’s incredible lame to say that “the majority supported us, are the majority bigots?” At one point, the majority was against gay rights and interracial marriage. What’s wrong is wrong, and what’s right is right.

    • Bart F. says:

      I wish to question your assertion that the Alberta government funds private religious (ie non-Catholic) schools. They fund charter schools such as science or fine arts but not religious schools.

      People I know in Calgary who send their kids to religious schools pay everything up front out of after tax dollars. Tuition cannot be written off on income tax. Therefore the school taxes they pay to the province are essentially an additional “donation” that others benefit from.

    • Vancouverois says:

      So then who gets to judge what is wrong, and what is right?

  7. Matt says:

    Should have read the positions of Harper and McGuinty.

  8. blamb says:

    good points. I’d add Four, the provincial Tories have a history of weakening public education and giving benefits to private ed and this was widely viewed as another attempt to chip away at the public ed system. As a rich kid, that probably doesn’t matter much to Coyne.

  9. Jeff says:

    My vote for McGuinty was because the government should not be funding private schools, religious or otherwise, and I am religious. That is what our public education system is for. It is more efficiently done all in one place. (In reality, four places: English public and Catholic; French public and Catholic.) Though I am a Christian, my tax dollars should not go to a Christian school. If parents want to pay for it, great. If not, that is what the public system is for. And the reason that we fund Catholic schools is out of date, but it is constitutional. It was a nation-building move in its day. McGuinty was opposing bad policy.

    Harper’s anti-niqab ridiculousness and pandering is pure calculated vote-getting even if it alienates newcomers to Canada.

    • DougM says:

      “Harper’s anti-niqab ridiculousness and pandering is pure calculated vote-getting even if it alienates newcomers to Canada.”

      Seems this issue crosses party lines. If an overwhelming majority support it, is it pandering?


      Most (88%) Canadians Support Requirement for People to Show Face during Canadian Citizenship Ceremonies
      Seven in Ten (68%) Disagree that Allowing Muslim Women to wear Niqab or Burqa During Ceremony is Acceptable; Three Quarters (72%) Agree With PM that Burqa or Niqab are Symbols of Oppression and Anti-Women Culture

      Most (88%) Canadians ‘support’ (65% strongly/23% somewhat) a ‘requirement that people show their face during Canadian citizenship ceremonies’, according to a new Ipsos Reid poll conducted on behalf of Global News. Just one in ten (12%) ‘oppose’ (4% strongly/8% somewhat) such a requirement.

      • James Smith says:

        The Majority is never wrong on Minority rights, right?

        In early 1965, a Gallup poll found by a margin of 61% to 21%, Southerners felt the government was moving too quickly on racial integration.

        But LBJ had a pair. He didn’t say “meh, if the people in those states don’t want it…” which Harper and Kenney are doing as a cop out, instead of leading on rights.

        Thanks goodness we have the courts.

      • Jeff says:

        Yes, if an overwhelming majority favour it, and it is racist, it is still pandering. And shame on any government that does not lead on this issue, and which does not appeal to “our better angels”, as Ken Dryden once put it.

      • Mitch says:

        Point of Clarification- None of these polls make it clear that the woman’s identity is confirmed prior to her taking the oath.

      • Kelly says:

        The issue really isn’t the Niqab — it’s the fact that a sitting PM would deliberately single out an individual Canadian, as well as an entire identifiable group, and attack them in a crass effort to create a wedge and carve off a few extra votes. It’s absolutely repugnant, has led to physical violence and defacement of property and campaign signage and it’s starting to backfire.

        I personally don’t like what the Niqab symbolizes. I am an atheist, a feminist and don’t believe in unicorns and flying spaghetti monsters. However I will go to the mat for the constitution and the charter that gives protection to people to express their culture and religion — without getting harassed. Harper doesn’t seem to agree.

        What about you? Are you OK with Muslim women who wear the Niqab getting beat up?

    • Matt says:

      Uh, EVERYTHIG announced by EVERY party is an attempt to get votes.

  10. doconnor says:

    People here where saying the public service would start leaking information that damages the Conservatives. It seems it has begun: Prime Minister’s office delayed intake of Syrian refugees, report says.

    • Bart F. says:

      The government temporarily intervened to apply additional scrutiny to Syrians coming thru UN auspices. Not one is suggesting this was illegal.

      If you really really hate Harper on this it won’t help. If you think the government has the right to do this and that Harper has been prudent and conservative on refugees it’s probably fine with you.

      Each to his own.

      • Mike says:

        This is probably too esoteric for the election campaign, but even if you agree with what was done, it would be the minister of immigration’s office making the decision, not the PMO

      • doconnor says:

        The reports suggest that the additional scrutiny included reviews by PMO staff. The thing about the PMO is that everything it does is with an eye towards getting the government reelected, rather then serving Canadians. (With the idea that serving Canadians is how the government gets reelected having been abandon long ago.)

      • Lance says:

        Not one is suggesting this was illegal.

        Or even ill-advised. Much ado about nothing.

    • Matt says:

      The media spent a good week to ten days trying to damage the CPC numbers after Alan’s body washed up on that beech.

      It failed, and in fact the more people thought about it, the more agreed with the Conservatives approach.

      The Syrian refugee topic didn’t hurt the Conservatives then, this won’t now.

    • Kevin T. says:

      The floodgates do appear to be opening. At least four different fires today alone!

    • Danny Aldham says:

      Do you think that having the media announce the CPC PMO temporarily intervened to add additional scrutiny to Syrian refugees hurts the CPC?
      Cynical me thinks this is a CPC leak. They are pressing buttons, and the left and the media are helping them, playing them.
      I don’t see Mulcair or Trudeau talking much about the Niqab because they have figured this out.

      • Jen says:

        I too am a cynic and believe that this may be some sort of self leak to bring the issue back to the fore. Both the liberals and NDP should tread carefully here. They and the media are likely being baited by a Lyndon Crosbie style wedge strategy.

  11. Kelly says:

    Even utility grade Con candidates are running from the issue now….


    I thought prominent cons would speak out — and I believe some will, yet — but the overreach and open bigotry has caused the backlash I thought it would.

    Today the civil service leaks start in earnest. I look forward to seeing Harper’s (embarassingly small) traditional house of commons PM portrait painting waaaaaay down the hall, around the corner, down the stairs and across from the janitors bathroom.

    • Matt says:


      Interesting you fail to point out at least 5 NDP and Liberal candidates have “run away” from their parties niqab position.

  12. doconnor says:

    There’s a difference to allowing people to express their religious beliefs and the government paying to have religious beliefs taught.

  13. Matt says:

    Should be beach.

  14. Mitchell says:

    Defending the status quo of Ontario funding only one religious group’s education system was a very effective campaign strategy but not a courageous or just policy. And hiding behind the constitution does little to satisfy those who seek fairness because every province other than Ontario has found a way to either fund one system or fund all. So if “the solution to inequality is not chaos”, how long do we have to put up with inequality and pay for Catholic education alone?

  15. Ian Turnbull says:

    Coyne has always been whinny however this election he is worse then ever. He has been acting like a teenager who has had their iphone taken away by their parents. I just wish Mansbridge or someone tells him he was right and Chantal was wrong and nobody cares about the niqab…..just give him his damn iphone back so he shuts up!

  16. J. Wilson says:

    The hypocrisy! The irony! It is conservative traditionalists whipping up the niqabis and hijabis. Amidst the hysteria and moral panic surrounding Ontario sex education, Toronto Catholic school trustees shepherded a coalition of fundamentalist Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Hindus, etcs. declaring: “If it’s wrong for Catholic kids, then it’s wrong for all kids!”

    Case in point: Rob Oliphant is a good multiculturalist Liberal. He even helped broker an arrangement at a school to allow Muslim students to pray in the cafeteria on Fridays. (The so-called mosqueterias where girls are segregated behind boys, menstruating girls behind them.) Yet, for his troubles, “We want to completely wipe out the Liberals” said Saeeda Sadaf an angry parent in the neighbourhood (Globe & Mail). What is Oliphant doing wrong? These fundamentalist Muslim parents are enraged at Wynne’s sex ed program.

    Conservatives have pandered to the most primitive elements to wipe out liberalism. Liberals have grievously compromised the doctrine of separation of religion and state to facilitate totally unqualified multiculturalism. Alike, they have sown to the wind and will now reap the whirlwind as Canada becomes a hothouse for every breed of religious fanatic and slides from a relatively tranquil secular liberal democracy to something akin to the wars of religion. Grimly, Trudeau and Wynne, Harper and Kenney, these in soft clothing, will be the first to the wall.

  17. A. Voter says:

    Most (88%) Canadians ‘support’ (65% strongly/23% somewhat) a ‘requirement that people show their face during Canadian citizenship ceremonies’, according to a new Ipsos Reid poll.

    Can someone who knows more about it than I do tell me: Do face coverings have to be removed for a passport photo? For a drivers license photo? For a provincial health card photo? If the answer is yes, and all incumbent political parties enforce this, how is someone bigoted for asking the niqab to be removed for a brief time for a citizenship oath?

    • Cory says:

      From what I understand, the answer is yes to all.

      I think what is being lost here which nobody talks about is that currently in the citizenship oath, somebody who wears a niqab is taken to a private room where they remove the face covering in order to be properly ID’d before they take the oath.

      What Harper is proposing is that the face cloth also be removed during the oath itself in front of other Canadians.

  18. e.a.f. says:

    I do not like taxpayers dollars going to religious or private schools. You want your kid to go, pay the shot yourself. In parts of this country we have Catholic school systems and then the other ones. So why shouldn’t other religions get money, if money goes to one religion’s schools. this is a secular country, which has freedom of religion. That ought to include freedom from religion and my tax dollars ought not to be spent on schools which are religiously based.

  19. Ronald O'Dowd says:


    Poor Coyne. Wait until Chantal gets wind of this!

    Unrelated: Just voted. It felt great.

  20. Al in Cranbrook says:

    Relevant article…


    Niqab / burka banned outright in France, and upheld by the EU Court. Also in Belgium and the Netherlands, as well varying degrees of bans in Germany, Turkey and other nations.

    This issue certainly isn’t unique to Canada.

  21. GFMD says:

    Not Coyne’s idea originally, but Jason Kenney’s in a tweet from, IIRC, just before the campaign started. Interesting that nobody has explored the possibilities of a senior MP and possible next party leader saying that its racist NOT to fund all religious schooling including for Muslims.

    Will he provide public funds to end what he views as a racist policy, or will he let this percieved unjustice continue? Will he speak out against it? If he persists in this view, should Harper not remove him as a candidate?

  22. Liam Young says:

    Coyne’s job rests on Stephen Harper’s success. Without Harper spending on traditional media like a drunk sailor, they’ll all hit the streets.
    Good to see he’s still incapable of being objective and do what’s only good for him as opposed to the entire country. Shame on him and shame on other media for continuing to dredge up this issue that so far, affects 3 people in the last 20 years.

  23. JH says:

    Some notes – probably only interesting to me, but here goes. What I don’t get about Coyne (or the Syrian review thing either for that matter) is that nobody really cares, or is paying attention, except I guess the junkies. Talked to a lot of folks today in coffee shops, stores etc. Nobody really gives a shite about all this garbage the media keeps playing up. Election interest is not that high either, especially with the under 40 crowd. Plus one friend, an Egyptian studying here, was laughing like hell at us. Seems his country has banned the Niqab in all official matters period. Egypt? Really?
    As for the polls, lots of folks were called in my area the last couple of days or so – think it was Pollara. Most said they hung up or lied – don’t want any part of pollsters it seems. And speaking of that, one ‘supposed’ insider mentioned today that Lib and Con internal polls are quite different than those that are being published? Probably all of this means nothing to all you ‘experts’, but thought I’d pass it along.

    • Al in Cranbrook says:

      Thinking about it, I don’t think I’ve heard Harper bring up the topic. Everyone else in the MSM and the Libs and Dippers bring it up for him. Both Stock Day and Jason Kenny have noted the same thing; they don’t bring up the subject, the media and other parties do.

      Indeed, the MSM, Mulcair and Trudeau won’t let it go…mostly because they just don’t get it.

      About 80% of the country gets it.

      But not them.

      …not that that’s a mystery or anything.

    • Vancouverois says:

      I was at the local candidates’ meeting earlier this week. There was only one person who brought up the niqab “issue” and allegations of prejudice. All the other questions were about the economy, or language policy (I was damned glad to see the NDP held to account for that one), or what will happen in a minority situation.

      • Scott says:

        You and Al are good little Cons eh. Cons are putting ads on t.v. regarding this issue. To say they aren’t bringing it up is about as lame as it gets. Their pet racist from Australia is running the show for them. You Cons will become more and more ridiculous as Trudeau pulls away from Harper.

        • Vancouverois says:

          For heaven’s sake.

          What exactly did I say in that comment that makes you label me as a “Con”? It was a factual statement about what I observed, with no political spin attached or implied.

  24. Matt says:

    If Harper and apparently the overwhelming majority of Canadians are racist for wanting the removal of the niqab during the citizenship oath, then i guess Egypt, a predominantly Muslim country, is racist for forcing women to show their faces when voting as Danielle Hamamdjian of CTV news pointed out tonight on her twitter feed.

  25. Jack D says:

    Here’s what I struggle understanding…

    On the niqab matter, proponents of its banishing from the public sphere regularly cite the polls indicated a large majority of Canadians supporting this sentiment.

    Heres the problem with that:

    1) Exactly what is the poll indicating, that the niqab is viewed as an article of female oppression or that it shouldn’t be worn while receiving public services or working in the public services? Because, depending on the phrasing of the question it could be quite a stretch for Harper to claim a large majority of Canadians support his stance when his rhetoric is implying something much more drastic than general attitudes towards the niqab.

    2) If polls are to be believed on this matter (which I find massively ironic that some CPC supporters lament pollsters for biases yet applaud them when it favours their own opinion, but I digress), then roughly 60%-ish of voters are in favour of the banning of the niqab. However, if we also find that just over 2/3 of the Canadian voting population is seeking change in this election, most with very strong anti-Harper sentiments, how to we decipher the logic of these voters if they hold diametrically different opinions? I mean, of course its possible for an intersecting of opinions amongst opposing political leanings, but at such a high rate? –I really wish the pollster had done a thorough analysis on this because its quite boggling to me.

    Nevertheless, I have a hunch that perhaps we’ve seen an over-exaggeration for the support of this “us vs them” rhetoric. I’ve heard arguments from both sides of the issue, but I have increasingly met individuals, some of them Progressive Conservatives, that are quite uncomfortable with the direction of this discussion. It begets the memories of Quebec circa April 2014.

    • doconnor says:

      Gay marriage once was very unpopular. So was interracial marriage. Both issues caused people vague unease at first, but the logic of not restricting people’s rights won over.

    • Vancouverois says:

      If polls are to be believed on this matter (which I find massively ironic that some CPC supporters lament pollsters for biases yet applaud them when it favours their own opinion, but I digress)

      Not a phenomenon limited to CPC members. Not by any means.

  26. Al in Cranbrook says:

    Yeah, I’m really impressed with climate change activists…


    The PM took it in stride pretty good.

    Hope they throw that imbecile’s sorry ass in the cooler for a good long spell.

  27. Cory says:

    As a campaign manager for the PCs that that election, I can tell you we got a lot of calls from people upset that we were giving money to Islamic schools. No complaints about it going to Hindu or Jewish schools.

    Never mind the fact that those schools already existed and the proposal would have brought them up to provincial standards, the emotional reaction to the idea of funding Islamic schools kicked the legs out from under the campaign.

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