Submissions to United Nations Human Rights Committee were made by Waldman in 1996 and CRIPE in 1997 to protest the exclusive public funding of the Roman Catholic separate school systems. The volumes of submission material are not relevant at this time, but the result, as documented below still stands
United Nations rules that Canada is in violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
The United Nations Human Rights Committee ruled on November 5th, 1999 that Canada is in violation of the above covenant through Ontario’s funding of Roman Catholic schools and not those of other faiths. The decision was made on the basis of a submission to the Committee by a Jewish parent, Arieh Waldman, who claimed he had to pay for his sons’ religious education whereas a Roman Catholic parent had his/her childrens’ religious education paid for by all of the taxpayers in Ontario. The UN Committee agreed with Waldman and dismissed the arguments of the Government of Canada which resulted in Canada/Ontario being declared in violation of Article 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
The Human Rights Committee’s “views” on the submissions
The decision of the United Nations Human Rights Committee is called, in U. N. terms the “adoption of Views.” The 16-page report contains a summary of the arguments presented by both sides – Waldman and Canada. Selected conclusions of the Committee are quoted below. The “State party” is Canada. All emphasis in bold text has been added by the editor.
10.4 The Committee begins by noting that the fact that a distinction is enshrined in the Constitution does not render it reasonable and objective. In the instant case, the distinction was made in 1867 to protect the Roman Catholics in Ontario. The material before the Committee does not show that members of the Roman Catholic community or any identifiable section of that community are now in a disadvantaged position compared to those members of the Jewish community that wish to secure the education of their children in religious schools. Accordingly, the Committee rejects the State party’s argument that the preferential treatment of Roman Catholic schools is non-discriminatory because of its Constitutional obligation.
10.5 With regard to the State party’s argument that it is reasonable to differentiate in the allocation of public funds between private and public schools, the Committee notes that it is not possible for members of religious denominations other than Roman Catholic to have their religious schools incorporated within the public school system. In the instant case, the author has sent his children to a private religious school, not because he wishes a private non-Government dependent education for his children, but because the publicly funded school system makes no provision for his religious denomination, whereas publicly funded religious schools are available to members of the Roman Catholic faith. On the basis of the facts before it, the Committee considers that the differences in treatment between Roman Catholic religious schools, which are publicly funded as a distinct part of the public education system, and schools of the author’s religion, which are private by necessity, cannot be considered reasonable and objective.
10.6 The Committee has noted the State party’s argument that the aims of the State party’s secular public education system are compatible with the principle of non-discrimination laid down in the Covenant. The Committee does not take issue with this argument but notes, however, that the proclaimed aims of the system do not justify the exclusive funding of Roman Catholic religious schools. It has also noted the author’s submission that the public school system in Ontario would have greater resources if the Government would cease funding any religious schools. In this context, the Committee observes that the Covenant does not oblige States parties to fund schools which are established on a religious basis. However, if a State party chooses to provide public funding to religious schools, it should make this funding available without discrimination. This means that providing funding for the schools of one religious group and not for another must be based on reasonable and objective criteria. In the instant case, the Committee concludes that the material before it does not show that the differential treatment between the Roman Catholic faith and the author’s religious denomination is based on such criteria. Consequently, there has been a violation of the author’s rights under article 26 of the Covenant to equal and effective protection against discrimination.
10.7 The Committee has noted the author’s arguments that the same facts also constitute a violation of articles 18 and 27, read in conjunction with article 2(1) of the Covenant. The Committee is of the opinion that in view of its conclusions in regard to article 26, no additional issue arises for its consideration under articles 18, 27 and 2(1) of the Covenant.
11. The Human Rights Committee, acting under article 5, paragraph 4, of the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, is of the view that the facts before it disclose a violation of article 26 of the Covenant.
12. Under article 2, paragraph 3(a), of the Covenant, the State party is under the obligation to provide an effective remedy, that will eliminate this discrimination.
13. Bearing in mind that, by becoming a State party to the Optional Protocol, the State party has recognized the competence of the Committee to determine whether there has been a violation of the Covenant or not and that, pursuant to article 2 of the Covenant, the State party has undertaken to ensure to all individuals within its territory and subject to its jurisdiction the rights recognized in the Covenant and to provide an effective and enforceable remedy in case a violation has been established, the Committee wishes to receive from the State party, within ninety days, information about the measures taken to give effect to the Committee’s Views. The State party is also re-quested to publish the Committee’s Views.