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A religious-right attempted appeasement by John Tory.

I’ve said all along since John Tory announced his proposed policy of wanting to bring private faith-based schools into the public education funding setup that even though I wasn’t going to be voting for Tory or his PC’s, as a social liberal who believes in equality I thought that was a worthy idea and one that showed John Tory was no Mike Harris and was a red Tory, or at least a moderate one.

It’s been rather public as well that some of John Tory’s traditional Conservative base of voters hasn’t been too happy with this policy – I have made the assertion it’s because a lot of the religious-right rural wing of his support are less then thrilled that he wants to fund schools that are teaching faiths of other then the Christian faith. I would state in light of today’s public pronouncement by John Tory that, should this policy be implemented, he didn’t see a problem with teaching creationism along side evolution as fact, that I am more convinced then ever that this policy promise must really be causing John Tory some blowback, because this statement is nothing more then a desperate attempt to reassure that part of the Conservative base that they have nothing to worry about supporting this.

As has been stated elsewhere, not even the Catholic schools do this – they only explore this in their religious classes, not their science classes. I’d have no issue with Tory if he was stating this could occur in the same scenario under his proposal, but for him to suggest it could be taught side-by-side…. that is nothing more then an import of religious right-wing conservative Republican ideology from the US (which incidentally has been struck down many times by the US Supreme Court), and I can’t support this concept if that’s what Tory would allow.

UPDATE @ Sept 6/07, 11:55 AM: Tory’s stance has even alienated some of his core supporters, including these fellow bloggers who were strong John Tory fans in the blogging world not members of the Blogging Tories.

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9 comments to A religious-right attempted appeasement by John Tory.

  • crankyguy

    James Clader is back to supporting a real leader for Ontario:

    http://progressiveright.blogspot.com/2007/09/epilogue-to-my-meltdown.html

  • catherine

    Janice, the Catholic schools do not undermine the science of evolution in their religious studies, because the Catholic Church accepts evolution as scientific fact and does not take everything in the bible literally.  For religions which take the bible literally, it is easy enough to teach evolution in science class and then completely undermine that by what they teach in religion class.  What has John Tory said about how he would deal with this?

    Jlandau, I agree that McGuinty's position discriminates against other religions.  Tory's position discriminates against parents who want to send their children to private schools for any reason other than religion.  He thinks only religious parents should have a choice of public funded school systems.  Both politicians have taken biased positions.  As far as I know, only the Green Party has an unbiased position, which is to fund only a single secular school system.

  • jlandau

    In this debate, let us not forget that Dalton McGuinty and his 4 children all went to faith based schools in Ontario (Catholic) at public expense.  Dalton's wife still teaches in one. That is what makes his fierce opposition so bizarre and opportunistic.  One thing I leart at my own faith based school is "do not do unto others what is hateful to you".   For some reason, McGuinty has not internalized this. Ontario is the only province in Canada that provides full funding to schools of one faith to the exclusion of all others.  B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Quebec and NWT all provide partial but significant funding to schools of all faiths on an equal basis. And guess what:  the sky is not falling in any of those jurisdictions.

  • Well Janice, then your fellow (that being John Tory) has an image problem, because as Steve showed here, even members of the Blogging Tories have great difficulty with his proposal, and they're also saying they don't support creationism being taught alongside evolution in science class.

  • Janice Coulder

    Any suggestion that John Tory "favors" or "supports the teaching of creationism" is either Liberal spin, sloppy reporting, or some combination of both. I think John has been very clear all along that any independent schools that wish to receive public funding would be required to implement the Ontario curriculum (as well as hiring only certified teachers and testing their students using the province's standardized tests). The Ontario curriculum does not allow the teaching of creationism or any other religious belief or theory in science classes, Those subjects can, however, be part of a religious studies class – as they are right now in many of Ontario's public and Catholic schools. So Tory's policy would mean that the theory of creation would be handled no differently in independent schools than it is in schools which currently receive public education funding.  Further, his policy would ensure that those faith based schools would have to start following the Ontario curriculum, using only certified teachers, and implementing standardized testing if they wanted to receive any funding from the government.

  • "I have made the assertion it’s because a lot of the religious-right rural wing of his support are less then thrilled that he wants to fund schools that are teaching faiths of other then the Christian faith."

    I'm going to have to completely disagree with you on this one.  I don't know why rural voters are against this, but if it's because of their right-wing religious beliefs then they obviously haven't been paying attention south of the border.

    What Tory is proposing is not dissimilar to the 'school voucher' system that has been right up there with school prayer and overturning Roe v. Wade at the top of the American religious right's wish list for over a decade.  Why?  Because it will provide public funding of fundamentalist Christian schools where they are free to teach creationism, have school prayer, and further isolate their children from the wicked, wicked world.

    This latest statement from Tory sounds like he's just pointing out the obvious benefits of his religious school scheme to the religious right.

  • ALW

    Isn't this just a pitch to religious voters in general?  Why 'religious right'?

    And what are you saying – that such voters should be ignored, instead of being pursued? 

    There's no doubt that this policy is designed to appeal to certain types.  But so what?  How is that different than most policies, designed by various parties, in order to attract votes?!?

  • I'm not concerned about students learning things that may be theories or facts.  Most educators I know do not want to just fill the students with facts.  They want students to think critically and decide for themselves what is factual, theoretical, and relevant.
    It is not going to be difficult for a religious school to teach about evolution.  For example, if two groups of moths get divided.  One group heads to the clean country side; the other group heads to the polluted cities.  The country moths will become whiter; the city moths will become darker.  Another example, calves born around Chernobyl may end up with two heads and six legs because of nuclear contamination.  That's how evolution could be taught at a religious school.

    If John Tory had promised choice for parents instead of just funding for religious schools and explained how this could improve the educational performance of Ontario's students, he would be gaining votes from both religious and secular voters.  Unfortunately, there is nothing in his current proposal that provides any benefits to secular families.  Religious families will have the choice to send their children to either the public or religious schools.  Families that are not so religious can only send their children to public schools.  General choice in education may or may not be a good educational policy; it would have given John Tory more ammunition than his current limited religious proposal.

    I think John Tory wants to divide the anti-"faith based" vote among the Liberals, NDP, and Greens.  If the Liberals can lose 5-10 percentage points to the Greens who believe in one school system, the PC Party may squeeze up the middle and possibly win a majority of seats with 35-40% of the vote.  The Greens won't win any seats; however, the Liberals may lose seats to the Conservatives.

  • "“They teach evolution in the Ontario curriculum, but they also could teach the fact to the children that there are other theories that people have out there that are part of some Christian beliefs,” Mr. Tory said at the Kamin Education Centre."

    There is a pretty big difference between this and what you've written about religious schools teaching creationism as "fact."

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