While Mr. Trottier’s stated goal of saving taxpayer dollars is laudable, his proposal is misguided. In certain operational areas, the duplication which Mr. Trottier seeks to eliminate could be dealt with through co-operation between the school systems. The sole example mentioned in the article, bussing, has already been consolidated in Sudbury.
One should also note, as with the amalgamation of municipalities in Ontario, the merging of administrative structures does not always result in cost-savings or in improved services.
Even if there is a net cost to maintaining the separate systems, higher costs do not always equal waste: we must ask what benefit is being provided in exchange for the greater expense.
Religions such as Catholicism espouse values which affect how a person views and interacts with the world in every aspect of her/his life. While we may not agree with or understand these values, in a free society, we respect someone’s right to hold and practise them (within the bounds of the law).
Because education is paramount in shaping youth, for a group holding certain values which differ from those of mainstream society, it is important that their teachers hold those same values.
This is not unjustly discriminatory: equality does not mean that everyone should be treated identically, but rather that people should be treated differently only in so far as the differences between them justly warrants – not because of a prejudice or bias. Most would consider it acceptable for someone to request that his/her physician be of the same gender. This too is discrimination, but not unjustly so.
As to sexual orientation, for both local Catholic boards, the form which teacher applicants must ask a priest to complete (available to anyone on their websites) makes no mention of it.
One can still ask why taxpayers should pay to promote the values of a specific group. About a third of school funding is raised from property taxes where taxpayers are given a choice as to which system they wish to support.
Also, nearly half of total school funding is allocated on the basis of enrolment. A Catholic school system is feasible because there is sufficient demand to sustain it. This is unfortunately probably not the case for other groups.
Finally, it must be noted that Mr. Trottier’s group, the Centre for Inquiry, is actually an organization dedicated to, according to their website, combatting the “harm” of religion, which they consider to be among the ranks of “pseudoscience” and “superstition.”
It seems that the CFI’s own prejudice — not taxpayer savings — may be their true motivation for advocating the abolition of the Catholic school system.
Jean Pierre (J.P.) Rank