By Hilary White

TORONTO, February 14, 2008 ( – Yesterday, in a move the was said to have surprised legislators, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty said he wants the legislature to “move beyond” the Lord’s Prayer, which is recited daily. He has ordered an all-party committee to be formed to “reconsider” prayer in the legislature. Calling the Lord’s Prayer “dated,” McGuinty, who continues to claim membership in the Catholic Church, said he wants a more “inclusive” practice that better reflects the province’s new multicultural “diversity”.

“I’ve asked for a parliamentary committee, with representation from each of the parties and the Speaker’s involvement as well, to take a look at how we can move beyond the Lord’s Prayer to a broader approach that is more inclusive in nature.”

Calling his idea a “reflection of our times” McGuinty said, “I think it’s time for us to ensure that we have a prayer that better reflects our diversity.”

McGuinty told media, “We’re much more than just Protestants and Catholics today. We have all the world’s faiths represented here. If they’re represented outside the legislature, I think we ought to find a way to ensure that diversity is reflected inside the legislature as well.”

Yet statistics show that Canada as a whole is still an overwhelmingly Christian nation, with Roman Catholics, Protestants and non-affiliated Christians making up at least 70 per cent of the population. People registering as “no religion” come a distant third at 16 per cent. The rest consist of Muslim at 1.9 per cent, “other and unspecified” with 11.8 per cent. Ontario statistics reflect those of the rest of the country. The 2001 census found that two-thirds of Ontario’s population was Christian, despite having been a major landing place for non-Christian immigrants since the 1960’s, with the province’s Islamic population more than doubling since 1991. 

Ontario Catholic author and thinker Michael O’Brien, told, “At its highest level,” McGuinty’s effort to “move beyond” the Lord’s Prayer, “is not a move for fostering diversity” but one aimed at the “homogenization of identity.”

O’Brien said, “It is a move toward the slow steady collapse into a generalized ethos of ‘sameness’, which is mistaken for the equality we all treasure in this land.” Such social philosophies, he said, though they may appear superficially to be about equality, ultimately “respect nothing other than the social revolution of worldwide Materialism.”

McGuinty’s recommendation is backed by opposition leader John Tory, and NDP House Leader Peter Kormos said his party was “intrigued” by it.

Michael O’Brien warns, however, that this is one small sign of “the step-by-step erasure of Canada’s fundamental identity as a Christian nation” and is “emblematic of more to follow.”

“Ontario has been, and will continue to be, in the vanguard of the deconstruction of the moral order in Canada. Of course, ironically, this latest proposition will be promulgated as a ‘moral’ step forward.”