Joe Morinville generally offers a welcome touch of humour in a publication otherwise committed to providing interesting and informative coverage of the local news. However, his Jan. 20, 2016 comments regarding the Bishop of Calgary were not amusing. They show a lack of respect for the man and his office as well as a lack of knowledge regarding what the Bishop actually said in his pastoral letter of Jan. 13. This letter was written in response to the Alberta government’s just issued document Guidelines for Best Practices designed to address LGBTQ school issues.
The pertinent section of the Bishop’s letter reads “The Alberta government “guidelines” issued on Jan. 13 show no evidence of consultation with or sensitivity to the Catholic community…Such a totalitarian approach is not in accordance with the Supreme Court of Canada opinion (Loyola) delivered on March 19, 2015 and must be rejected.” (Pastoral letter Jan. 13, 2016)
Having apparently only read comments about the letter on the Internet without reading the actual letter, Joe Morinville objects to the bishop’s use of the word ‘totalitarian’ and flippantly advises Bishop Henry to “look up totalitarian in the dictionary or better yet, pick up a WWII history book…”
If Joe Morinville would take the time to follow his own advice, he would find, as I have, using my Concise Oxford Dictionary, that ‘totalitarian’ as used by Bishop Henry to describe the government’s approach to the policy in question is entirely appropriate.
As the Bishop points out, there is no evidence of prior consultation with any parents, boards or the general public on the issues addressed in the guidelines. Furthermore, all public, separate, Francophone boards and charter and private schools are required to incorporate the “guidelines” into specifically worded stand-alone policies, together with the required regulations or procedures. These must be submitted to Education Minister Eggan by March 31. No school authority is exempt.
This lack of consultation and the decision made to make the policy mandatory for all schools regardless of beliefs or values or need can quite accurately be described as totalitarianism.
Both the Alberta government’s policy “guidelines” (There’s an example of incorrect word usage. The document is a directive and should be titled as such.) and Bishop Henry’s complete letter are easily accessed online. Joe Morinville would be well advised to read both in their entirety before commenting further on a policy that is raising serious concerns not only for Bishop Henry and the Catholic community but for thoughtful people throughout Alberta.