February 7, 2024
To: York Catholic District School Board Members
REAL Women of Canada, federally incorporated in 1983, has a diverse membership. Its members come from all walks of life, made up of people of different faiths, as well as no faith. What unites us is our commitment to the family, children and the rights of parents to raise their children in a safe and nurturing environment.
REAL Women wishes to support the motion of Trustee Frank Alexander on the flags to be flown at local Catholic schools. We also support Catholic education which is increasingly coming under attack for merely being Catholic. Indeed, in an age of “anti-bullying” and “anti-harassment” awareness, it is more than a little disconcerting to see the continued bullying and harassment of Catholics and other Christians and their institutions. If this type of behaviour is unacceptable in the schoolyard, it is also unacceptable in the public square.
We are appalled by the recent article in the Toronto Star (4.ii.24) by Rachel Mendleson, entitled, “Proposed flag ban sparks outrage” Feb 11, 2024. The writer of the article seems to be unaware that the source of “public funds” that Catholic schools receive includes taxpaying Roman Catholics, as well as many non-Catholic taxpayers who chose to send their children to Catholic schools.
Mendleson also betrays an appalling lack of appreciation for the liberties of Catholics to educate their children in accordance with the tenets of their faith. Those liberties, together with their rights and privileges, are expressly guaranteed by s. 93 of the Constitution Act,1867 (BNA Act) and subsequently recognized and confirmed by s. 29 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
If constitutional guarantees are not enough, perhaps Mendleson should acquaint herself with s. 19 of the Ontario Human Rights Code, which requires that nothing in the Code should be “construed to adversely affect any right or privilege respecting separate schools enjoyed by separate school boards or their supporters under the Constitution Act, 1867 and the Education Act.”
Catholic parents, send their children to Catholic schools precisely because they are CATHOLIC — schools where Catholic principles will be taught, and Catholic moral guidance offered. And so do a great many non-Catholic parents of other faiths, or no faith, because they value the education experience their children receive in the Catholic system. For those who don’t like Catholic social or moral teaching the answer is simple: don’t send your children to a Catholic school.
Children, regardless of their faith or lack of faith, race, or socio-economic background, attend Catholic schools. All these children are treated the same in a manner consistent with Catholic social and educational teaching. Thus, Catholic education is already “inclusive” and “diverse”. However, the rallying cry of “inclusivity and diversity” has become the new dog whistle of the woke and progressive forces in society. As such, and taken at face value, they are contradictory: diversity, by definition, means situations and policies that exclude other situations and policies.
REAL Women believes that it is about time Catholics and Catholic educators demand to be included in the public square as Catholics and that their contribution to the diversity of our province and country be acknowledged and valued as authentic. Whatever “inclusivity and diversity” may mean, it does not mean that we all speak and act from the same progressive hymnbook and adopt the same secular-materialistic outlook on life and its problems.
It is problematic and hypocritical that those who demand inclusion and diversity are intolerant of including Catholics at the table, unless of course, the Catholics think exactly like them?
Giving priority of place to the national, provincial, municipal, Vatican and/or school flag as recommended in the motion by Mr. Alexander is reasonable, and is in accordance with the constitutional protected association with the Roman Catholic Church.
Finally, on behalf of REAL Women, in order to promote the family and to safeguard children, we encourage the Trustees to be faithful stewards of the Catholic patrimony as well as the rights and privileges afforded under the Constitution of Canada.
National Vice-President and Legal Counsel
REAL Women of Canada