TORONTO, Ontario, May 29, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Ontario’s Catholic Premier Dalton McGuinty stood behind his government’s effort to force homosexual activist clubs known as “gay-straight alliances” on the province’s Catholic schools on Tuesday.
Reacting to criticism from Cardinal Thomas Collins of Toronto, McGuinty insisted the publicly-funded Catholic schools will not be able to refuse a student’s request to launch a gay-straight alliance if his government’s newly-amended “anti-bullying” bill passes.
Ontario has “fundamental values that transcend any one faith,” he told reporters.
“Cardinal Collins has his responsibilities and he has to provide leadership in keeping with his responsibilities,” he said. “But I have a different set of responsibilities. I’m accountable to all faiths, I’m accountable to people of no faith, I’m accountable to all parents.”
The announcement Friday by Education Minister Laurel Broten that the government was amending the bill to force Catholic schools to allow gay-straight alliances came as a shock to Catholic leaders, who, according to the National Post, had brokered a deal with the premier and his government behind the scenes despite warnings from parents and pro-family advocacy groups that such an approach has historically usually failed due to manipulation and lying by politicians.
In a statement Monday, Cardinal Collins, speaking on behalf of Ontario’s bishops, suggested the amendment “overrides the deeply held beliefs” of the Church and “intrudes on its freedom to act in a way that is in accord with its principles of conscience.”
Progressive Conservative education critic Lisa McLeod told supporters in an e-mail Tuesday that McGuinty’s handling of the bill has made it “clear the issue of bullying is really only a secondary concern for the Ontario Liberals.”
“We believe there should be less, not more government intrusion into the lives of Ontarians and that Queen’s Park shouldn’t be in the business of legislating student clubs, nor their names, regardless of what they are about or called,” she wrote.
“Unfortunately the Liberal government ignored the voices that appeared before committee and plan on forcing through an even heavier handed amendment today at Social Policy Committee that will force all school boards to enact certain clubs,” she added.
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The Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association has opposed the amendment as well, though the group’s president, Marino Gazzola, has avoided giving clear reasons for their opposition and says they are not concerned that the clubs promote homosexual advocacy.
On Tuesday, the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association (OECTA) took a stand against Cardinal Collins and the bishops in a statement backing the government’s amendment. OECTA said same-sex oriented students should be able to use the word ‘gay’ in naming the clubs because “the word speaks to the core of their identity.”
McGuinty, an alumnus of St. Patrick’s High School in Ottawa, is himself a product of the Catholic school system that many critics say has been very weak in teaching Catholic moral principles since the 1960s. His four children also attended the province’s Catholic schools and his wife is a teacher in the system.
In December he defended his Catholic faith when his commitment was called into question by Jack Fonseca of Campaign Life Coalition. After Fonseca charged that McGuinty is “not a very strong Catholic,” McGuinty shrugged it off and told reporters, “You’ve got to do what you think is right.”
“Maybe different people bring different perspectives to that and different definitions. I have my own particular approach to this and it is the one that is informing our Accepting Schools legislation,” he added.