Letter: BILL 4 – The Morinville Public Education Issue

Editor:

I worked for a number of years for the Government of Alberta and was explicitly told on a number of occasions that legislation for any issue was a last resort.

The Minister of Education has all the power he requires to deal with the Morinville situation, and can use a simple Ministerial Order to transfer the jurisdiction of Morinville from GSACRD to Sturgeon, along with the PUBLIC Schools, from one Public Board to another PUBLIC Board. This has been done routinely in Alberta. One must ask the question then “Why is the Minister not using the existing legislation and his existing powers instead of going to all the trouble of new legislation?”
None of us involved in this issue are fooled. He is using this new Bill to inappropriately create a new Catholic Separate School Board, not following any of the existing requirements or laws, with no proof that this board will have a single student, from Morinville or Legal. He is using this Bill to transfer five PUBLIC schools to this new Catholic Separate School Board, leaving the new Public School Board (Sturgeon) in the impossible position of trying to house approximately 1,800 new public school students by September 2012. He is using this Bill to try to force the parents of those 2,000 students to stay in GSACRD Catholic separate schools, to allow their children to be educated in their home towns (Morinville and Legal) as their only other choice will be to have their children bussed a minimum of 50 minutes in the morning and at night to overcrowded schools in Sturgeon Schools. He is using this Bill to pull the carpet out from under the last non-Catholic Separate School Board in Alberta, once and for all. He is using this Bill therefore [to] reward GSACRD for violating the Alberta School Act that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms for the past two decades, while punishing everyone else.

I understand what a beautiful country Canada is and the freedoms we have, compared to many other Countries in the world. One of those rights is freedom of religion. I defended the rights of our country for nearly three decades in Uniform. I fully support freedom of religion. I refuse to support however when one religion is give preferential treatment, and when a religion is forced on Canadians. This is exactly what GSACRD has done for two decades in Morinville and Legal. A PUBLIC school Board that has demanded that all children accept a fully permeated Catholic education in every class of everyday, knowing full well that under 29% of the children in those classes are Catholic, in all four Morinville schools. Those are GSACRD’s numbers not mine.

And so Bill 4 is how the Minister of Education decides to resolve this blatant two-decade long act of prejudice, discrimination and religious intolerance? You have to ask yourself why!

Please do not let this Bill Pass; it is wrong in so many ways, and is being used to violate both common sense and the current laws of Alberta.

Dave Redman

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16 Comments

  1. While I cannot speak directly to how the legislation should or shouldn’t work I can assure you Dave that the Catholic schools will have a large contingent of students in their classrooms come the fall. You act as if you speak with one voice for all those who live in Morinville and have children in schools here. You do not. I completely disagree with what you have said here. Furthermore, I find the suggestion that the hard work the THREE School Boards put into Bill 4 TOGETHER as a team is some ploy by the Minister of Education to force children into Catholic schools to be ridiculous and insulting to those people who put in the effort to find this solution. No preferential treatment has been offered, Since so many of the parents who have children in GSACRD schools expressed satisfaction with the current faith-based system the minister and those others working on this issue have deicded to take the LEAST disruptive route for the sake of the children. You are out of line in your accusations.

  2. First of all, this letter is extremely offensive to me as an MCHS student. I am not catholic, but rather Lutheran, and I have friends who are athiest and one who is Muslim. None of them have said the 15×5 cm cross that no one notices has ever bothered them. The “manditory religion” the letter talks about may be referring to the morning “prayer,” which is just a bunch of personal reflections to think about written by former MCHS students. Religion is not “permiated” throughout the day, and to think this is a form of extremist rebellious thought, the likes of which were pushed into the child soldiers of Sierra Leone by the RUF. Religion class is optional in all Morinville schools, and such foolish talk of manditory religion is enfuriating. I have never been to religion class in my life. These people who say such radical, bias things obviously don’t understand what it means to live in Morinville, or be Canadian for that matter. Morinville is a catholic town, Canada is historically Catholic and Protestant and the religion of the First Nations. Remember: Morinville has tried a secular school before, but low numbers forced it to shut down. It is now SSD HQ. These radicals who think they’re revolutionary and think this rediculous idea will fly obviously haven’t read up on their history. And to demolish the community, then flee like one secular parent did is shameful and shows this movement isn’t about the kids, rather a few self centred members of our community seeking attention and to give our schools and town a bad reputation. On Thursday, at 6:30PM, I urge all to come to MCHS’ gym to meet the minister and give him a piece of the SILENT MAJORITY mind. These radicals must be crushed for the sake of our town!!

  3. For all of you that are pro-GSACRD, whether a parent, guardian, student or Morinville resident, and wish to keep our four GSACRD schools and not have one of them poached (okay a little sarcasm there, but we can only take so much)… please join us on facebook at “morinvillelegalparents” for updates and information on this matter…And we urge you to join fellow supporters THURSDAY EVENING, March 15th, 6:30 pm, at the Morinville Community High School, to come together as one voice for our children.

  4. Dave has a point. Nothing in the bill requires that any schools be transferred between boards. And St. Albert Protestant is in no hurry to give up their separate status.

    Kevin, the “permeation” language is taken directly from GSACRD and is being used by Catholic boards across the province. It’s new since I graduated from Catholic school in 1999. It’s probably only being implemented one grade at a time.

    It’s also worth noting that the provincial constitution sets fairly strict limits for religious education, limits that have been ignored for decades.

  5. Dave doesn’t have a point. He acts as if he speaks for everyone in town when it’s clear from just a few comments that he doesn’t. I choose to keep my children in the school system they are currently attending. He makes baseless and inflammatory accusations, seemingly for no other reason than to anger people since he has no credible reason to say that which he says. Now, having said that; I am glad to see those parents who want something different for their kids being offered a choice that was put out there by the three school boards who worked at finding a solution together. However, I don’t want it to be at the expense of my children and the school they’ve come to know so well for the last three years. I hope and pray they find a better solution that gives those students attending Sturgeon schools a great experience.

  6. I must applaud Dave Redman for taking the time to put his opinion on this matter to print. Because, if nothing else, it’s his right to. Given as Mr. Redman says, he’s worked within the government and he has first hand experience on these matters, then maybe instead of jumping all over him for a few in-accuracies we should invite him to bring more insight on this matter to the forefront.

    Now I know this schooling issue has drawn a lot of emotional heat from both sides, but now its turning into a monster all its own; As in the case with Joe K’s post, obviously he is very passionate on his view and his views are encouraged, but there also seems to be a very emotional and aggressive tone to what he has written, which is cause for concern.

    Kevin you speak of their revolutionary ideas and that “these radicals must be crushed” “these people don’t know what it means to be Canadian”. I encourage you to really look around, a large number of the people who reside in Morinville have dedicated their lives to protecting democracy within Canada, meaning although people may not agree, their radical or bias opinions have a RIGHT to be heard. But to crush a group for what they believe….Just really what are you being taught at that school?

    It seems as Dave has pointed out, that the Minister has all the tools and authority he needs to straighten this matter out. But he seems to have another agenda on the go. With Morinville growing the way it is, it won’t be long before another school will be required anyway, therefore a cencus should dictate what kind of school is required, should it not? If the GSACRD is stating that only 29% of students are Catholic and the Minister seems to be violating the laws, then maybe its time for this issue to move into the Courts.

    • Tim, the percentage of self-identifying Catholics in the system is a moot point. Enrollment is the key component here and many non-Catholics have and will continue to attend GSACRD schools post Bill 4 just as I’m sure some Catholic families MAY send their children to a Sturgeon School. Faith or lack of faith in a school is not the only component of a parent’s choice when presented choice. Geographical proximity and familiarity with teachers play a larger roll.

  7. Which section of the provincial statute sets out that type of statement or instruction?

    Many statements have been made that contain urban myth rather then fact!

    In the end interpretation is just that(yours) When a few drive an agenda to long and to far the the rest of the communties rights are also affected. Thank God for all the opportunties we have to voice our opinion and ask for changes in this country!

    It is time to move on, finish this and allow the Town of Morinville to be a melting pot of all cultures and religions, who can co-exsist without malious.

    Dave, you and your family will get all that you asked for and more so take some time to allow the system to work this through.
    Working in government for so many years you if anyone should know that lesson and that is with all due respect to you as a professional.

    May spring bring you a fresh outlook on life and this fabulous town, province and country.

    Ron

  8. Everyone knows there used to be a public school in Morinville- some just forgot.

    It was even here in the early 1900s said a member of the History Society. There is still evidence of one of the buildings here today.

    This is not new- the attitude is

  9. Let’s take a step back here. The Constitution in regard to Protestant & Catholic schooling was established to protect both faiths in a time when there were ONLY two types of schools, Protestant & Catholic. Whoever was the majority got to run the Public School, with the option of starting the day with the Lord’s Prayer and offering 30 minutes of optional religious instruction at the end of the day.

    The ‘minority’ faith then got to establish their ‘separate’ school under the same clearly defined rules. The Protestant school boards have met this legal obligation and have become increasingly ‘secular’over time, truly serving their “public”. GSACRD has openly flouted this requirement for years, establishing a new ‘norm’ where the expectation seems to be, however illegal they should be allowed to continue.

    With the passing of Bill 4, the Protestants (who in Alberta outnumber Catholics by more than 50% but are still a ‘minority’ group in Alberta) will lose the last of their Constitutionally promised boards. This surely violates the intention of the original agreement? I wonder how the Catholics would feel if the situations were reversed? I think asking if there is a better way than the current Bill 4 to remedy this situation is a reasonable request (or whether it is even an appropriate way to execute the change).

    I also don’t understand the vitriol towards parents that have simply asked for their legal and constitutional rights to be upheld. Hands up if you don’t want people you disagree with to have rights!

    I do also have some sympathy for those GSACRD parents who are concerned that their children may have to change schools. But this circumstance is the fault of the system, the government and GSACRD, not the fault of any parents on either side.

    All the parents, regardless of which side they are on should be united in an equitable solution to the problem – not just to one side “winning”.

  10. http://www.assembly.ab.ca/ISYS/LADDAR_files/docs/hansards/han/legislature_27/session_5/20120313_1930_01_han.pdf

    Last nights debate on Bill 4 starts on about Page 4 or 5. Page number 481 I believe. Ken Allred had quite a bit to say and I found most of it to be interesting if not something I was previously aware of. I can’t say he does not have a point.

    I would be so bold as to suggest all sides go read it, preferably with an open mind.

    Of course if one really has one’s heart set on a good old fashioned crushing, walnuts are for sale at Sobeys.

    Regards;

    Thomas Kirsop

  11. I for one am hoping that the rumors of G.P Vanier becoming the public school becomes true. For all of those that think the other schools will be overcrowded, I believe you will be wrong. It is going to be the public school that will be overcrowded. This town may have been founded on the Catholic religion, but statistics say, this is not a Catholic town anymore. Embrace change and accept the fact that this town is growing and changing. Anyone see the movie Footloose?

  12. sigh…

    If you thought my “Crush the Radicals!” post above was a serious endorsement of the statements above it – it wasn’t.

  13. I have a better idea then Bill 4. How about SSD get jurisdiction as the Public board in Morinville. GSACRD gets changed to seperate. Now, GSACRD can keep all their schools and the Secular parents get voting rights in the existing SSD schools. As for those parents who complain about sticking their kids on a school bus for 30 mins, kids in St.Albert, Edmonton, Calgary, etc all ride the bus for that long. That would NOT be an anomoly.

    This solution would not displace the majorily of students, would not cause dozens of teachers to lose their jobs, and would give the secular parents their voting rights they want.

  14. Nik, I am NOT a Catholic. I am however keeping my children in the Catholic school. I may embrace intelligent, useful and purposeful change as being a good thing for society but that does not mean I have to change my values or ideals to do so, nor will I. Without any factual and concrete numbers of people who are registering their kids in the new public school system I can only base my opinion on what I’ve seen and heard from others recently. I do not believe the numbers for the public school will be as large as many seem to think they will. Many people who are not Catholic or even religious minded for that matter are very happy with the school system as it exists right at this moment. I believe many of them will continue to support that system because of that high level of satisfaction.

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