Her organization fears that funding all
religion-based schools would erode public education, making it
harder to integrate youngsters from diverse backgrounds into
The CCLA recommendation, submitted as a
brief to Ontario Education Minister Kathleen Wynne last week,
comes midway through the Oct. 10 election campaign, so far
dominated by a Progressive Conservative promise to extend
funding to Muslim, Jewish and other religious schools.
The spotlight on the Tories' promise
gives voters a chance to press all parties to end any
religion-based funding, says Ms. Mendelsohn Aviv, urging Ontario
to seek a constitutional amendment so "the anachronism of
Catholic school funding will be eliminated."
That idea won no converts yesterday.
Ms. Wynne, a top Liberal cabinet
minister trying to hold on to her seat in Don Valley West
against her main rival, Progressive Conservative Leader John
Tory, said, "I'm not going to be responding to this as Education
Minister. We are in the middle of an election campaign."
But she reiterated her party's pledge to
"maintain the current system of governance and funding," ruling
out a constitutional amendment.
"Our task is not to push ourselves into
a constitutional debate, rather to improve the publicly funded
system that has worked for many, many years," she said.
Ingrid Thompson, a spokeswoman for Mr.
Tory, said that given the historical guarantees to Catholic
education, the policy that "makes the most sense and is the most
practical to implement" is her party's proposal to include the
53,000 students now in faith-based schools in the public system.
The Conservatives say they would add up
to $500-million to the education system to pay for the proposal,
with participating schools required to follow the Ontario
curriculum, hire accredited teachers and apply provincial tests.
The chairman of the 92,000-student
Toronto Catholic District School Board also objected.
"The CCLA has ventured outside its core
area of expertise, which is the law, into what is in essence a
political statement," said Oliver Carroll.
"If there is divisiveness about
extending funding, you can only imagine the debate about
removing support for Catholic schools," Mr. Carroll added.