On Political Suicide
Some people, when asked for their opinion on the abolition of the public funding of the Roman Catholic separate school system, have said they thought such a move would be political suicide. Their reason seemed to be “because there are enough Roman Catholics in the province to throw out a government if one dared to do so.”
However, all evidence that I can find leads to the opposite conclusion.
1) Having a policy of supporting separate school funding did not get the Liberals or the NDP elected when Bill Davis was premier. . . .
2) After Bill Davis made separate school funding part of the Progressive Conservative platform for 1985, the next election reduced his party to a minority and the next election put the PCs in the political basement until 1995. Why didn’t this policy result in overwhelming support from the Roman Catholics?
3) Going back further, despite intense lobbying by the Roman Catholic church, Wilfred Laurier, a Quebecer and a Roman Catholic, when in opposition, spoke against a remedial bill in the federal Parliament to force Manitoba to reinstate the publicly-funded Roman Catholic separate school system which Manitoba abolished in 1890. The next year Laurier was Prime Minister. Why didn’t the RCs punish him for not forcing Manitoba to return public funding to the RC separate schools? Laurier did not commit political suicide through his non-support of publicly-funded Roman Catholic schools in Manitoba.
4) Despite an intense campaign by the Roman Catholic Church in Newfoundland to defeat the proposed school reforms in a referendum, the vote in St. John’s, with a majority of Roman Catholic residents, was more in favour of the reforms than the provincial average.
5) Despite an intense lobbying campaign by the Roman Catholic church of MPs, and despite a Roman Catholic Prime Minister, and despite a free vote allowed by the federal government, the constitutional changes for Newfoundland were passed by an overwhelming vote of 171 to 41. No political party committed suicide in the process.
6) On a political talk show in early January of 1997, Premier Brian Tobin of Newfoundland and his two opposition leaders were questioned. On the topic of the school referendum to abolish church control of education, Tobin was asked: “Did you check with the RC church on this?” Tobin’s reply went something like this: “When I campaigned for election as Premier, I campaigned to represent all the people of Newfoundland and not the RC church. I am a Roman Catholic and so are my two colleagues, but we all supported the reform of the Newfoundland school system.” There was no political suicide.
7) Through submissions to the Estates General in Quebec with regard to the abolition of the denominational school system in Quebec, 67% of Quebecois agreed and 88% wanted community schools notwithstanding the religion of the parents. The Association of Quebec Bishops also agreed it was time for change. There are no longer any publicly-funded Roman Catholic schools in Quebec – and no political party committed suicide in the process.
8) The only very evident and acknowledged political suicide where religion is concerned, was the political suicide of Bill Davis and his progressive Conservative government when he added the public funding of the Roman Catholic separate school system to PC policy. That political suicide put the PCs into the political basement for 10 long years.
9) If anyone has an example of a political party committing suicide as a result of that party instituting any policy which removes Roman Catholic privilege, saves the government over a $ billion every year, and finally comes in compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, I would be pleased to be informed.
A while ago… last april?… so uh… 7 months ago, I wrote a post about Melody Hensley from CFI DC and her claim that harrassment caused her PTSD…. and how that claim caused her to be harassed on twitter. Well… CFI has leaped into action to defend her… as they should… once their seemingly generous summer vacations were finished…
Does anyone care whether Jesus was married with children? York U professor Barrie Wilson and filmmaker Simcha Jacobovici care; they wrote the book, The Lost Gospel: Decoding the Sacred Text that Reveals Jesus’ Marriage to Mary Magdalene.
Mark Goodacre has looked at Wilson’s and Jacobovici’s “claims in greater detail, and it is clear that there is absolutely no merit.” Robert Cargill maintains,
“The lost gospel is not lost. And it’s not a gospel. Scholars have known about and studied [this text] for a very long time.”
“There’s been debate about whether Jesus was married for some time. But that’s the least of it. To me, it’s obvious that a first-century Jewish rabbi such as Jesus would marry and likely father children. . . .”
For others, the controversy surrounding The Lost Gospel is a tempest in a teapot. Of course, there were first-century Jewish rabbis who were married and had children. However, whether Jesus was a rabbi or even whether Jesus was/is is not something that preoccupies unbelievers.
Atheist Sean McGuire and I were pleased to co-sign a Centre for Inquiry (Canada) fundraising email:
If you’re like many people who care about secularism and the free-thought movement, you read blogs from around the world. You may even have read Canadian Atheist or My Secret Atheist Blog. If so, you know that bloggers and organizations like Centre For Inquiry Canada speak out on the issues that matter to you.
Here in Canada, expressing our opinions is a right we enjoy every day. Unfortunately, it’s not the same everywhere. There are still many places where speaking out carries the threat and reality of torture and death. Centre for Inquiry Canada is taking a hard look at this issue and exploring what may be done to assist individuals who think and speak freely and as a result must seek asylum to avoid persecution for their opinions.
CFI Canada is embarking on a two-year project to research current legislation dealing with asylum seekers and refugee claimants of different sexuality, religious/non-religious, racial, and cultural backgrounds.
The goals are to
- question the rationality, and the fairness, of current legislation in the way it treats asylum seekers who are at the highest risk of having their cases denied because of an immigration prosecutor’s personal bias, instead of the facts
- educate Canadians about the facts of free-thought and free speech as life-threatening acts
- mobilize the Canadian free-thinking community to provide support and information for individuals who are desperate for their lives.
If you’d like to keep informed, we’ve recently posted (and will continue to update ) a detailed article on our website: http://centreforinquiry.ca/atheist-bloggers-risking-their-lives/
If you agree that people who put their lives at risk for free-thought should have the support of the secular community when they reach Canada, then we need your participation and assistance!
Our financial target for this program is $200,000 over two years to cover staffing, research and legal costs as well as materials and equipment. We also want to be in a position to provide material support and assistance to atheists and bloggers who are successful in reaching Canada.
We currently need $30,000 to launch our efforts: if every person who receives this message gives only $10, we can start immediately.
If you are able to help, please Visit our Website to get involved.
In the past six months, correspondence to CFI Canada about asylum speaks to the fear atheists and LGBTQ individuals have for their personal safety if they are deported.
“I am atheist for about a year in secret because I live under Islamic domination. I am planning to apply for asylum in Canada do to threat of death in case of exposed. I wonder if your organization offers support for cases like my case or guidance,” April 10, 2014.
Another case, from May 27, 2014, involves a Canadian citizen, reaching out to CFI Canada on behalf of a friend who lives in Tunisia.
“He is an outcast from his family and community. He has, and continues to, suffer abuse at the hands of his parents. At twenty years of age the Tunisian constitution says he is free to make his own decisions. That is not the practice in reality,
Is there anything that can be done to rescue this young man from this desperate situation? From what I have read of the Canadian immigration process, he wouldn’t stand a chance of qualifying for entry into Canada, Is there a chance he might qualify as a refugee on the grounds of ‘religious’ prosecution? Is there someone within the Canadian system that might help me?”
This concerned Canadian described repeated incidents of his Tunisian friend being arrested at the whim of his parents, and receiving injuries while in custody such as broken fingers, a broken jaw and a partially amputated ear.
Besides research into refugee legislation, CFI Canada has plans to start awareness campaigns to educate authorities (such as Canada’s Office of Religious Freedom)and the general public on the scope of the issues facing asylum seekers, to make sure all are treated equally.
Let’s focus on the changes we can make together.
Veronica Abbass and Sean McGuire
Canadians, atheists, free-thinking bloggers
Please see Sean McGuire’s post, “Help CFI Canada Help Atheists at Risk!” for more detailed information on CFI’s email and on atheists who need our help.
“The need for frank talk about religion is most pressing as regards both Islam and Christianity, which proclaim their validity for all humankind and thus should be subject to universal debate and scrutiny.” Salon waxes uncharacteristically reasonably on religious critique: “Wake Up and Oppose Theocracy: Bill Maher, Rula Jebreal and the Urgent Islam Debate.”