In 1841, when Upper Canada (Ontario) and Lower Canada (Quebec) were joined together in a legislative union known as the United Province of Canada, the Day Act provided that “any number of Inhabitants of any Township or Parish professing a religious faith different from that of the majority of Inhabitants of such Township or Parish” may “dissent from the regulations” and set up their own school.
At a time when religious intolerance was widespread, provision for a religious minority to “dissent from the regulations” and therefore from the religious majority, was a solution that suited the time.
The intent, then, of the original legislation, was to establish social harmony by allowing antagonistic faith groups to separate in different schools. The original intent was not to elevate any one faith group into a position of privilege.
Despite the above, subsequent legislation made it easier to establish separate schools for Roman Catholics but more difficult to establish them for others.
One piece of such legislation, the Taché Act of 1855, applied only to Ontario, but was introduced into the Legislature by a member from Quebec, and was passed on the strength of Quebec votes.
Similarly, the Scott Act of 1863, which turned out to be the basis of today’s separate schools, applied only to Ontario, but was again passed on the strength of Quebec (Roman Catholic) votes.
These two acts demonstrate that Roman Catholic legislators of the United Province of Canada, being a majority, voted into law, a privilege, for the Roman Catholic citizens of Upper Canada (Ontario).
And so it came about that Roman Catholics were allowed their own government-funded system of schools in Ontario, a privilege enjoyed by no other group.
In the 1800s a majority of legislators, Roman Catholics, most from Lower Canada (Quebec), voted into law a privilege to the Roman Catholics in Ontario.
It was done in a democratic manner, that is, by the rule of the majority. However, it must be noted that never, in the history of Ontario, did the general population of Ontario vote to give Roman Catholic citizens the privilege of a publicly-funded separate school system.
However, a majority of legislators in Ontario today may vote to remove this same privilege, but not until the Green Party of Ontario put one public school system on their election platform have Ontarians been given the option to vote to rid this province of religious discrimination.
Majority votes is what democracy is all about, but democracy is defined as a system under which citizens have equality of rights and opportunities. So, with the present government, Ontario does not qualify to be classed as a democracy.