In 1986 the Ontario Legislature passed a bill (Bill 30) to authorize full public funding of the secondary schools of the Roman Catholic separate school system. Many citizens saw this as an extension of the religious discrimination practiced by the existing Roman Catholic elementary school system. Citizens remembered with trepidation their recent history of religious antagonism which led to the necessity of small Ontario communities to schedule different start and stop times for the public and separate schools to avoid street fights among students. The fear about this extension of religious discrimination was that the existing social division would be amplified. It has been.
Concerned citizens in the Pembroke area contacted others of like mind to raise objections to the government’s move. Some teachers became involved who were concerned that the division of high-school students in small communities into two different high-school streams would reduce the number of students per school such that optional courses, such as language, technical or commercial subjects, would no longer he able to be offered. This has happened.
Citizens in the Pembroke area therefore joined the Coalition for Public Education based in Toronto and issued its first monthly newsletter in December 1986. A separate group based in Harrow formed their own group: Friends of Public Education in Ontario, Inc. In the summer of 1988 the Pembroke group joined the Harrow group under the “Friends” name and continued to publish a monthly newsletter. Not having the aim or expertise and connections to lobby government, the aim of the newsletter was to give subscribers information which is not readily available from any one news source. In 1991 the newsletter was reduced to a quarterly publication. The newsletters led to a book “Not Carved in Stone – the public funding of separate schools in Ontario” published in 1992.
In 1999, the head office was moved to Pembroke and the name was changed to Civil Rights in Public Education, Inc. (CRIPE) We have made submissions to the United Nations Human Rights Committee and carried out a province-wide newspaper opinion poll. Canada has been condemned by the UN Human Rights Committee for a violation of article 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights because of the exclusive public funding of the separate school system. The newspaper poll determined that 79% of 7551 respondents favoured one public school system.
Civil Rights in Public Education, Inc. is an organization composed of citizens of differing backgrounds, living in more that 155 communities across Ontario, committed to one strong public education system, which offers neither privilege nor prejudice to anyone.
Our aims are:
- To serve as advocates for civil rights in public education so that the public is informed about the issue of publicly-funded separate schools.
- To hasten the day when Ontario’s education policy recognizes the dignity and worth of all children, their right to equality, and their right to freedom from religious discrimination.
More to think about
Since 1998 there is no longer any constitutional reason to publicly-fund the Roman Catholic separate school system.
Government figures show that it costs approximately $1.2 billion per year to maintain the separate school system in the English and French systems.
The lingering UN condemnation of Canada’s human rights violation through the exclusive public funding of the separate school system