Faith-Based Funding: Good or Bad?

I was recently sent a few snippets from an article about faith-based funding. Lest we all leap at the promise of funding for Christian education, the article serves as a warning as to what can happen when that funding comes with strings attached.
In 1988 Eden Christian College in Niagara On-The-Lake was facing very serious issues due to declining enrollment. The solution they pursued was to join the Lincoln County Public School Board as an alternative reli­gious school within the public board (as per the current Conservative proposal). Teach­ers' salaries almost doubled immediately and they were given a new computer lab. They eventually moved into part of a public high school building in nearby St. Catharines. There were no obvious detrimental 'strings' at the time, at least for the first year.
But within a few years things began to change. The public school board told them that they could no longer require students to attend chapel or take religious courses. Those would become optional before or after school programs. They could not hire teachers or principals on the basis of their beliefs, only that they were sympathetic to Christian be­liefs.
This year the public school board hired a non-Christian to be the school Principal. Within the first 3 years of becoming part of the public system they were ordered to re­move the word "Christian" from the school's name. They became Eden College. Last school year someone found out that teachers actually prayed in their staff meetings. That was outlawed too. In my opinion it would be extremely unwise to ignore this precedent when considering the Conservative plan.

There is a big difference between a government handout and a tax exemption. Whereas a tax exemption would allow you to opt out of paying for the public system, a government handout must be applied for. If you have to apply for anything, there will always be a set of conditions. Conditions mean unwanted interference and the possibility of curtailing the practices that make religious schools what they are.


Liberals: Getting What They Deserve

With the recent political catastrophe in Quebec, the Liberals are no doubt silently kicking themselves. With four more by-elections coming up, the view for the future of the party looks grim. I do not expect them to make up for their recent losses. Even if they do manage to take one or two of the four empty seats, nothing can make up for the fact that they were utterly routed in Quebec, losing a long-time stronghold to the NDP of all parties.
Dion: the Liberal leader that just couldn't. Why was he ever elected? I just have to ask how could anyone not have predicted that Dion would be nothing short of a total disaster for the Liberal party? As much as I dislike Quebec, they are probably the most politically savvy province in Canada. The idea that they would embrace the Liberal Party just because they selected a native of the province to lead it was always laughable. Furthermore, with his tenuous grasp of the English language, he never had a hope of wooing the rest of Canada. So what were they thinking?
I'll tell you what they were thinking.
They were thinking Bob Rae was still "too NDP" and Ignatieff was "too American." They wanted a compromise, something everyone could agree on. What everyone ended up agreeing on was political suicide. That is what happens when you don't stand for anything specific and try to please everyone.
To be honest, I never really considered Rae to be much of a threat. He has too much baggage from his days as Premier of Ontario. It does not surprise me that he has fallen into line, and really, we don't hear that much about him.
Ignatieff, on the other hand, was always a power player and was the one person who could have unseated the Conservatives. That there is even so much as a hint of political in-fighting between himself and the Liberal non-leader is proof of this. This isn't the first time it has been suggested that there is some level of rivalry between Ignatieff and Dion, and to be frank I don't think it will be the last.
The title of "Leader" does not actually make on a leader. Ignatieff has personal strength. Dion does not. Dion cannot keep him in line because he is not particularly manly. Dion has no presence. He has no charisma. He cannot command.
I almost feel sorry for the Liberals. True to party form, they have to band together and try to present a unified front. As a side note, if they ever find the guy who told the press about their party problems, they will roast him alive and eat him for breakfast. No, the Liberals will not get rid of Dion until they lose the next election, a sure thing at this point.
Hopefully this will mean a majority for the Conservatives next term.


Tory's No Tory

For the first time in many years, I may not vote PC in the upcoming election. In fact, I may not vote at all.
There's no one to vote for in my riding.
John Tory is not a suitable leader for the Ontario PC party. There is nothing at all in the PC party platform that resembles conservative policy, either fiscal or social.
The party's new plan can be found here It's a whole lot of promises for a whole lot of interference. That means more taxes, in case you were wondering.
As a part of his "plan" for education," Tory wants to "Limit the homework burden on young children to the recommended ten minutes per grade level. Children need a life outside of school – time with family and friends, not an extra two hours of stress at the end of the day." Yeah. That will prepare them for university. That will prepare them for the real world. That will empower teachers to do their job of TEACHING.
That's strike one.
Tory thinks he can buy the religious, social conservative vote by offering funding for faith based education. However, this funding has strings attached and will mean unwanted provincial interference. In the end, serious schools are more likely to reject the promised funds.
That's strike two.
Tory showed up to the Gay Pride Parade.
Strike three.
No vote for you.
Maybe I will vote no confidence.
I am as conservative as the next gal. More, in most cases. Not voting for Tory could mean a Liberal win. That would be bad, I admit it. McGuinty is a disaster. But let's face it; Tory would be worse. If I vote for him, I send a message to the PC's that I am ok with the party's new direction.
And I am not.


Funding and Religious Education

There has been much discussion regarding John Tory's recent funding announcement for private religious schools. McGuinty has been quick to denounce the move, raising the spectre of "segregation." Tory, however, claims it will produce a more inclusive education model. Schools who submit to standardized testing, accept teachers certified by the province and follow the Ontario curriculum would receive some measure of funding from the province. In reality, neither leader understands the mindset that drives a parent to enroll their child in a private, religious school.
For starters, McGuinty's claim of segregation is utter nonsense. Private religious schools have existed for many years in this province. Their attendants are fully integrated, functioning members of society. There is no evidence of segregation anywhere and there never has been.
John Tory's understanding isn't much better. At least part of the reason religious educational institutions are founded is because people do not want the interference of the government. The provincial curriculum is felt to be inadequate. Children emerging from the public system are not properly trained. Furthermore, the provincial curriculum will never center around a set of religious beliefs. It cannot. It is secular by nature. Religious educational institutions are founded because parents feel this is a significant flaw and wish to correct it. If funding is contingent on accepting the province's poor standard, then private religious schools will not apply for the funding. The promise is a waste of everyone's time.
If Tory were serious and actually wanted to further religious education, he would allow parents to opt out of paying for the public system. Instead, he has decided to make everyone pay twice.


Parliament Prorogued

Harper has delayed the opening of Parliament for approximately one month. Instead of sitting September 17th, Parliament will now sit October 16th. As a result of this move, the government will have to present a throne speech which will be subject to a vote of confidence. A number of important bills will die on the order paper, but they are expected to be reintroduced.
Some have speculated that the government is deliberately trying to trigger an election. Since recent polls indicate that Harper's government would not likely do any better were an election to be held, this seems unlikely. While Conservatives would undoubtedly win such an election, they would not likely gain a majority. In the meantime, the Bloc is loudly declaring that they will vote against any throne speech that does not guarantee a withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2009. I expect the NDP to do the same. The Liberal Party is broke, led by someone who is unelectable and they are in no condition to run a campaign. Since the Liberal Party is extremely unlikely to force an election they cannot win, they will likely support the throne speech (regardless of its content) and Parliament will continue as normal.
It seems more likely that the federal Conservatives want to assist the Ontario PC's with the upcoming provincial election. If this is true, it's too bad. John Tory is unelectable, and I feel they are wasting their time. Tory is not a Tory. He has abandoned his conservative base, social conservatives in particular. No amount of help from federal Conservative MP's will change this. He deserves to lose.


Behind in my Blogging

What can I say?
It's been slow. I was away on vacation for a bit and, really, there hasn't been much to blog about. However, with a provincial election on its way, that is sure to change.
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