Letter: Council & Chamber asked to pick horse on school issue

Mr. Mayor, Councilors, Members of the Chamber of Commerce of Morinville

I am concerned by the council’s lack of stance on the issue of public education in our community. I recognise your belief that the concern is not within the purview of your scope of responsibility, but I would say to you that public education within the township is most certainly a town issue. With the issue in question recently brought forward in The Globe and Mail, The Calgary Herald, local news outlets, and this (Monday) morning’s front page of the Edmonton Journal, I would put to you that our quiet little skeleton is out of the closet and now has provincial, indeed, national exposure. The time has come for the council to get off the fence and voice your opinion on the matter to the public you serve and the elected bodies who serve you. You may not have authority but you certainly have influence.

In the last three years, where service provided, I have spent the majority of my considerable disposable income within the limits of Morinville and St. Albert because I believe in supporting local business. From the new shingles on my roof, to the plumbing, new water heater, paint, and flooring in my house, to the tools in my garage from the local hardware store. All of the fine and in most cases outstanding, service I received from those entities has been totally mitigated by the issues brought into my living room by my children from their public school.

To save others from similar stress and confusion, my future efforts, within the media, on the sidewalk, and on bulletin boards of other nearby communities, will be directed to making sure, very publicly, that any families considering relocating to this community are well aware of the notice on the bottom of the 2011 public school registration form, the ACSTA submission to the Minister of Education, and every bit of documentation that the members of the Morinville Parent Delegation diligently collected so that you could stoically and silently snub them at a recent council session before taking a private, closed door meeting with the school board later in the week.

That would be quite the “Welcome to Morinville” booklet. I’m sure the surrounding communities’ realtors, grocers, and service providers will appreciate the extra business.

Pick your horse and hook up the towns cart to it, ladies and gentlemen. There is new industry coming to this region offering industry level wages, and their hiring practices won’t be wholly-permeated with Catholic doctrine, philosophy and theology like our public schools are.

Thomas Kirsop
Concerned Parent, Taxpayer, Member of the Public
Morinville, Alberta

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  1. It’s time that schools were places of learning for subjects like math, reading, arithmetic, social studies… Not places of religious indoctrination. There’s a key element in the Canadian constitution. Freedom of religion. The converse must also be true. Freedom FROM religion. Want religion, go to a house of worship. Public schools should NOT be part of that system. Ever.

  2. Thomas, stick to your guns for what you believe. I personally agree that religion should be an option not a requirement, but I do not agree with your threats to take “the majority of your considerable disposable income” and spend it elsewhere. You’re letter reads like that of a well educated CHILD. What I get from it is this “if I don’t get my way, I’ll throw a fit til I do”. The Chamber of Commerce is a group of buisness people who get together to network, not a governing body of the town. Attacking the local buisnesses is not appreciated or logical. Fight your fight, but do it in the right arena!

  3. For both Mr. Kirsop and Leslea: I don’t recall anyone twisting your arms to live in Morinville… Did you not check all this schooling thing out BEFORE choosing to buy here??

    While not a concerned parent (at least not of school-age children), I AM a concerned taxpayer and member of the public and I firmly believe that our elected officials have more important issues to resolve before becoming embroiled in a religion vs education debate.

    By the way Mr. Kirsop, I was quite intrigued by your statement: “There is new industry coming to this region offering industry level wages, and their hiring practices won’t be wholly-permeated with Catholic doctrine, philosophy and theology like our public schools are.” I’ve not seen any indicators of such industry coming our way – Would you care to enlighten us??

  4. This is a very important debate in our community. I agree with Joel that the business community should not suffer because of our limited educational choices. In 2011 I cannot accept the arguments presented by individuals like James that “no one forced you to move here” or “Why don’t you move”. These statements move inclusiveness, individual and group rights back to the early 1900’s.

    This is the scoop. I believe every family have the option to secular education in their own community. To my knowledge Morinville and Legal are the only communities in the province with our current situation.

    Morinville is growing and will continue to grow bringing new residents into our town with different cultural and religious beliefs. As our diversity grows so must our educational choices.

  5. Joel and Mr O’Brien

    I made no threats. I stated I have spent the majority of my income in this community. I received fine to excellent service for it. The warm fuzzy feelings I had for this service were undone by the service I recieved from my childrens public school board. No threat there that I can see. Only a statement to the CoC.

    My commitment to making sure others are aware of the public school issue in town? Count the comments in all forums saying “Shoulda checked before you moved here” Or do they mean “I” should have checked but others shouldn’t. Not to mention the claims of “Move”.

    When asked about available public schools, my realtors answer was “4″, not “Catholic”. As I said if I can save another the grief…

    New Industry? Morinville is about 20-25 minutes by car to the North West Upgrader site. On the upwind side, with services not available in Gibbons and Bon Accord. The town would do well to attract some of those folks to it’s community.

    You can’t have it both ways, if the Mayor and Council want to promote that the town is a Catholic Bastion then promote it as such. Like minded folks would come to bolster our community businesses those of us who decide we don’t like the course the leadership have chosen can move on. Or they could strive to ensure our educational ammenities are open to a more diverse group of people and try to snag as much of that wage pool from the NWU as they can get their mitts on.

    They do what they did tonight at the council meeting, then we all keep squabbling, the press builds, the town languishes, and nobody moves here, and you better believe that should concern the Chamber of Commerce.

    My house will lose just as much value as yours. I did not tell the council which way to pick, I just asked them to pick, period.


  6. I think the writer should do some research before submitting an open letter to two groups of people who have ABSOLUTELY nothing to do with resolving the issue of non-catholic school education in Morinville.

    Hopefully Mayor & Council and local businesses didn’t waste much of their valuable time reading this.

    I echo the comments from Joel – if you want to fight your fight, do so in the proper environment but right now you sound like a child who isn’t getting their way and is crying to their mommy.

  7. While I have never agreed with or seen the need to change our schools in town I found myself understanding the position of some of the people who want things changed. That is until I read this letter. The Minister of Education’s total lack of response to the issue is absolutely irresponsible as it falls within the perview of his job as I understand it to be. This letter however makes me see the people pushing for this change as a group of little kids who threaten anyone who doesn’t immediately jump on the bandwagon. Which is unfortunate as I don’t think everyone in that particular group is conductinmg themselves in such a manner. Mr. Kirsop, you may feel like you haven’t lobbed any threats at anyone but I think you should reread the contents of your letter and use the perspective of someone other than yourself. There are definite threats to both the town and the business community at large in your letter if you don’t get your own way. I don’t think this kind of conduct helps your case in any way. And I agree with many who believe that neither Town Council or business people in town should get themselves involved in this. The Minister of Education is the one, and only one, you should look to.

  8. I accept your feedback as to perception of threat and will keep it in mind for future as an opportunity for personal improvement. Thank you. As posted above I have clarified my intent. I sincerely hope that addresses your concerns with regard to issues of threat.

    I agree also that the Minister holds ultimate authority in all matters of education.

    However I still say that education in a town is most definitely a “Town Issue”, I further say that where a “Town Issue” has potential to impact community population, through migration and therefore community business that the “Town Issue” becomes an “Issue of Interest” to the Chamber of Commerce, after all, that is why Chambers of Commerce exist they represent the interests of business within a community.

    Further I say that politicians at all levels are elected largely on their positions on “Issues” within their juristictions, this follows through the municipal, provincial, and federal areas of operation, if they didn’t we would all vote solely on party definition and we wouldn’t require campaigning.

    I expect my politicitans at all levels to maintain positions on issues in their juristictions throughout their terms, not just at campaign time. To be clear that does not mean I expect to be in agreement with them, or that they are not subject to change, politicians are people too. I expect that they have positions on the easy agreement issues like the “Cardiff Highway Intersection” and similarly expect they should have positions on the more “sensitive” issues. As a member of the constituency that is my right. It’s everybodys right.

    In this issue I have most certainly queried levels of government on both levels for their positions on several “issues” within the public schools in Morinville.

    I encourage others with questions and opinions, both pro and con, to do the same or not as they see fit, after all we all have equal rights in these matters. Do you agree?


    Thomas Kirsop

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