Gwendolyn Landolt, National Vice-President of REAL Women of Canada has published her opinion of the “Constitutional Position of Catholic School Board in Regard to the Ontario Sex-Education Curriculum.” Landolt is a retired lawyer who “has written extensively on Canadian constitutional issues, in particular the Canadian Charter of Rights.” She is also a REAL woman:
The word REAL is an acronym which means Realistic, Equal, Active, for Life.
While this definition doesn’t eliminate women in general, a further description of REAL women does:
REAL Women speaks for women who support the values of traditional family and marriage. We believe the family is the most important union in Canadian society. We see the fragmentation of the family as one of the major causes of disorder in society today.
Based on the above definition, no self-respecting woman would want to be a REAL woman.
However. it appears that Landolt’s law experience and her membership in REAL Women of Canada makes her eminently qualified to contradict the legal opinion Nadya Tymochenko from Miller Thomson gave to Ontario Catholic school boards that want to “to delay implementing the controversial Liberal government’s sex-ed curriculum for a year”:
“failure to implement the curriculum as required could result in an investigation by the Ministry of Education and a direction by the Minister ordering compliance.”
A close reading of Landolt’s opinion on the “Constitutional Position of Catholic School Board tn Regard to the Ontario Sex-Education Curriculum” indicates she is not as confident as Ms. Tymochenko. Landolt says,
I would be hesitant to accept the conclusion that only the Catholic School Boards have the sole decision-making authority on the sex education curriculum.
The word hesitant is telling and the analogies she uses are flawed:
in 2014, a controversial Divisional Court case Erazo v. Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board provided relief to a family, who wished to withdraw their children from religious studies, Mass and religious retreats at a Catholic high school in Brampton. Consequently, it would seem that parents have the ability to withdraw their children from the sex-education curriculum, as well as to challenge its validity.
the situations are not similar because the right to exemption from religion class in secondary schools is guaranteed in the Education Act, but the right to withdraw children from all of the sex-education curriculum is not.
Landolt also cites the Loyola High School v. Quebec (Attorney General) 2015 decision of the Supreme Court of Canada and maintains
That case stands for the proposition that a private Catholic school retains the right to teach its own faith from its own Catholic perspective, rather than some purported “neutral” perspective.
In a private email, one correspondent says,
The Supreme Court ruling in the Loyola case was concerning a private school and NOT a publicly-funded school – so no connection there either.
Most disturbing is Landolt’s implication that Catholic rights trump human rights
It would appear, however, that the statements by the provincial officials prohibiting the withdrawal of children on some human rights matters, are in conflict with the constitutional right of Catholic schools. This is because defining an issue as a “human right” does not mean that these issues must be accepted by the Catholic Boards, if they are in conflict with Catholic teachings.
Landolt’s conclusion reinforces the impression that her “opinion” is flawed:
It would be my opinion that the Catholic School Boards are not required under the Constitution to implement those parts of the Phys-ed & Health (which includes sex-education) curriculum that are contrary to Catholic teachings.
Landolt goes on to say,
If the Ministry of Education should try to force the issue (which I very much doubt it would do), the Catholic authorities could protect themselves by way of seeking an injunction, or, interestingly enough, follow the two-step remedial procedure provided in Section 93 of the Constitution Act 1867 . . . .
However, the two-step remedial procedure she mentions involves the participation of the Parliament of Canada, and Landolt admits
It is doubtful, however, that a federal cabinet would want to be drawn into such a controversial issue.
While Ms Landolt’s opinion is ambiguous, Ms Tymochenko’s is not. Let’s hope at least one school board decides not to implement the curriculum as required; then, when the ministry goes in and takes over, maybe the Ontario government and the ministry will finally come to the conclusion that Ontario should create one secular school system for each official language.