Thaddeus Baklinski

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Ontario gvmt sets “dangerous precedent” of bypassing Catholic boards in teacher contract deal

Thaddeus Baklinski
Thaddeus Baklinski

By Thaddeus Baklinski

TORONTO, July 6, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - In what has been called a “dangerous” precedent, Ontario’s Liberal government reached a key contract agreement on July 5th directly with the pro-homosexual Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA) after the Ontario Catholic School Trustees Association (OCSTA) left the bargaining table late Wednesday night. OCSTA, which represents all Catholic school boards in the province, negotiates the contracts with its Catholic teachers, with the Ontario government acting as a go-between, but was stunned to find the province took over without any consultation.

Kathy Burtnik, vice-president of OCSTA, said negotiations broke off over concerns the deal on the table “did not represent the best interest of students.” She stated she was not aware that negotiations were under way between the government and the OECTA union after other unions representing elementary, high school and French school teachers walked away from the talks.

“At no point were we informed or was it even intimated that a potential agreement could be made between OECTA and the ministry, and we are absolutely opposed to any agreement made without our involvement,” Burtnik said, adding that cutting the school boards out of negotiation sets a dangerous precedent.

“We are dismayed at the dangerous precedent this agreement sets,” said Burtnik.

A spokesman for Campaign Life Coalition (CLC) said the agreement between the McGuinty government and the Catholic teachers’ union is an undemocratic attempt to make board trustees, who are the elected representatives of parents, irrelevant.

“By cutting out local government, that is the local boards of education, McGuinty has perverted democracy,” CLC’s Jack Fonseca told LifeSiteNews. “This move represents a hostile takeover of the education system by big government, and McGuinty is making the role of elected school officials totally irrelevant. The contempt McGuinty has for democracy is astounding.”

Noting that one of the concessions OECTA made was a 2-year wage freeze, Fonseca pointed out that, “While economic conservatives may applaud finally getting a union to agree to a wage freeze, and I don’t disagree, there is a larger, more important principle at stake relating to liberty.

“This has frightening implications for parental rights and democratic freedom. After all, the trustees are the legal representatives of parents. The closer McGuinty gets to making trustees irrelevant, the closer he gets to eradicating the authority of parents within the education system. Is that his objective? There is a psychological repercussion of having teachers basically reject their employer (the school board), to sign a deal directly with the Liberal government. In essence, it makes McGuinty their employer and the school board trustees nothing but window dressing,” Fonseca stated.

Kathy Burtnik told the National Post yesterday that, “The precedent this sets as to who the employer is, as far as labour relations go, is quite confounding,” adding that, “I saw that the minister [Ontario education minister Laurel Broten] made a comment today about the importance of working with their education partners and how good that can be. Well, one of their partners does not know what has been agreed to.”

Minister Broten said, “Many people thought that this day would never come, that we would never agree, that we were too far apart. But this agreement demonstrates the value of partnership,” according to a Globe and Mail report, and stated that the deal with OECTA will act as a “road map” for bargaining with the other unions.

The Catholic teachers’ association issued a media release late Thursday with highlights of the deal, which include a two year wage freeze for all educators and principals, three unpaid professional development days in 2013-14, and reduction of paid sick days from 20 to 10, which can no longer be accumulated.

“We continued discussions, even when other unions left the table, because we believed that negotiating was the best way to secure a fair and reasonable agreement for our members - and we believe we have achieved that goal,” said Kevin O’Dwyer, OECTA president. “This agreement mitigates the impact of the government’s original parameters, protects younger teachers from having to make larger sacrifices and achieves significant gains for our members on key non-monetary issues.”

Reaction from local Catholic school boards across the province was consistent with the surprise and dismay expressed by Burtnik.

Barbara Holland, chairwoman of the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board, told the Windsor Star, “We were a little dismayed,” noting that school boards are teachers’ employers. “We had not been given any indication they [OECTA] could sign with the province.”

Peterborough Victoria Northumberland and Clarington Catholic District School Board director of education Greg Reeves expressed shock that the provincial government and the teachers’ association reached an agreement without the involvement of the representative of the school boards.

“That’s a very dangerous precedent this agreement sets,” he said in a Peterborough Examiner report.

A Progressive Conservative MPP, Lisa MacLeod (Nepean-Carleton), waded in saying the Liberal government’s actions infringe upon the school boards’ rights. “They feel usurped,” MacLeod said, according to the Toronto Star.

Jack Fonseca pointed out the connection between the Liberal government’s “power grab” from the boards, and “the homosexual agenda of Bill 13 which McGuinty rammed down the throats of unwilling parents.”

“More than ever before,” Fonseca told LifeSiteNews, “Catholic teachers will perceive the provincial government as their boss, instead of the school board. It’s reasonable to assume that as teachers are unmoored, little by little, from subservience to trustees/parents, the more they’ll shift allegiance to the government. After all, who wants to upset the boss who signs your pay cheque.”

If OECTA’s agreement with the government is to act as a “road map” for the other unions, as Minister Broten has stated, Fonseca warned that “they had to feel they were benefitting from their pal once again.”

“As far as the optics of the ‘concessions’ made by OECTA, I don’t trust them,” Fonseca remarked.

“OECTA is 100% in favour of McGuinty’s radical gay agenda. In the 2011 election, OECTA was part of the Liberal election campaign, raising millions to elect McGuinty. There’s something we don’t know. In time, I’m sure the details will surface.”

Contact Information:

Premier Dalton McGuinty
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 416-325-1941

The Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association
Kevin O’Dwyer, OECTA president
65 ST. Clair Ave. East, Suite 400, Toronto, ON M4T 2Y8
Phone: 416.925.2493
Fax: 416.925.7764
Toll Free: 1.800.268.7230
Email: [email protected]

Ontario Minister of Education, Laurel Broten
900 Bay Street, 14th Floor, Mowat Block
Toronto ON M7A 1L2
Phone: 416-325-2929
Fax: 416-325-6348
Email: via website

Ontario Catholic School Trustees Association
Kevin Kobus, Executive Director
P.O. Box 2064, Suite 1804, 20 Eglinton Ave. W Toronto, ON M4R 1K8
Phone: 416-932-9460 Ext. 222
Fax: 416-932-9459
Email: [email protected]

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Lisa Bourne

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Pressure mounts as Catholic Relief Services fails to act on VP in gay ‘marriage’

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne
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Rick Estridge, Catholic Relief Services' Vice President of Overseas Finance, is in a same-sex "marriage," public records show. Twitter

BALTIMORE, MD, April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- Nearly a week after news broke that a Catholic Relief Services vice president had contracted a homosexual “marriage” while also publicly promoting homosexuality on social media in conflict with Church teaching, the US Bishops international relief agency has taken no apparent steps to address the matter and is also not talking.

CRS Vice President of Overseas Finance Rick Estridge entered into a homosexual “marriage” in Maryland the same month in 2013 that he was promoted by CRS to vice president, public records show.

Despite repeated efforts at a response, CRS has not acknowledged LifeSiteNews’ inquiries during the week. And the agency told ChurchMilitant.com Thursday that no action had been taken beyond discussion of the situation and CRS would have no further comment.

"Nothing has changed,” CRS Senior Manager for Communications Tom said. “No further statement will be made."

LifeSiteNews first contacted CRS for a response prior to the April 20 release of the report and did not receive a reply, however Estridge’s Facebook and LinkeIn profiles were then removed just prior to the report’s release.

CRS also did not acknowledge LifeSiteNews’ follow-up inquiry later in the week.

“Having an executive who publicly celebrates a moral abomination shows the ineffectiveness of CRS' Catholic identity training,” Lepanto Institute President Michael Hichborn told LifeSiteNews. “How many others who hate Catholic moral teaching work at CRS?”

CRS did admit it was aware Estridge was in a “same-sex civil marriage” to Catholic News Agency (CNA) Monday afternoon, and confirmed he was VP of Overseas Finance and had been with CRS for 16 years.

“At this point we are in deliberations on this matter,” Price told CNA that day.

ChurchMilitant.com also reported that according to its sources, it was a well-known fact at CRS headquarters in Baltimore that Estridge was in a homosexual “marriage.” 

“There is no way CRS didn't know one of its executives entered into a mock-marriage until we broke the story,” Hichborn said. “The implication is clear; CRS top brass had no problem with having an executive so deliberately flouting Catholic moral teaching.”

“The big question is,” Hichborn continued, “what other morally repugnant matters is CRS comfortable with?”

While the wait continues for the Bishops’ relief organization to address the matter, those behind the report and other critics of prior instances of CRS involvement in programs and groups that violate Church principles continue to call for a thorough and independent review of the agency programs and personnel.

“How long should it take to call an employee into your office, tell him that his behavior is incompatible with the mission of the organization, and ask for his resignation?” asked Population Research Institute President Steven Mosher. “About thirty minutes, I would say.”

“The Catholic identity of CRS is at stake,” Hichborn stated. “If CRS does nothing, then there is no way faithful Catholics can trust the integrity of CRS's programs or desire to make its Catholicity preeminent.” 

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Thousands of marriage activists gathered in D.C. June 19, 2014 for the 2nd March for Marriage. Dustin Siggins / LifeSiteNews.com
The Editors

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Watch the March for Marriage online—only at LifeSiteNews

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WASHINGTON, D.C., April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- At noon on Saturday, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and dozens of cosponsors, coalition partners, and speakers will launch the third annual March for Marriage. Thousands of people are expected to take place in this important event to show the support real marriage has among the American people.

As the sole media sponsor of the March, LifeSiteNews is proud to exclusively livestream the March. Click here to see the rally at noon Eastern Time near the U.S. Capitol, and the March to the Supreme Court at 1:00 Eastern Time.

And don't forget to pray that God's Will is done on Tuesday, when the Supreme Court hears arguments about marriage!

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Ben Johnson Ben Johnson Follow Ben

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Hillary Clinton: ‘Religious beliefs’ against abortion ‘have to be changed’

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By Ben Johnson

NEW YORK CITY, April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Speaking to an influential gathering in New York City on Thursday, Hillary Clinton declared that “religious beliefs” that condemn "reproductive rights," “have to be changed.”

“Yes, we've cut the maternal mortality rate in half, but far too many women are still denied critical access to reproductive health,” Hillary told the Women in the World Summit yesterday.

Liberal politicians use “reproductive health” as a blanket term that includes abortion. However, Hillary's reference echoes National Organization for Women (NOW) president Terry O’Neill's op-ed from last May that called abortion “an essential measure to prevent the heartbreak of infant mortality.”

The Democratic presidential hopeful added that governments should throw the power of state coercion behind the effort to redefine traditional religious dogmas.

“Rights have to exist in practice, not just on paper. Laws have to be backed up with resources, and political will,” she said. “Deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs, and structural biases have to be changed.”

The line received rousing applause at the feminist conference, hosted in Manhattan's Lincoln Center by Tina Brown.

She also cited religious-based objections to the HHS mandate, funding Planned Parenthood, and the homosexual and transgender agenda as obstacles that the government must defeat.

“America moves ahead when all women are guaranteed the right to make their own health care choices, not when those choices are taken away by an employer like Hobby Lobby,” she said. The Supreme Court ruled last year that closely held corporations had the right to opt out of the provision of ObamaCare requiring them to provide abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives, and sterilization to employees with no co-pay – a mandate that violates the teachings of the Catholic Church and other Christian bodies.

Clinton lamented that “there are those who offer themselves as leaders...who would defund the country's leading provider of family planning,” Planned Parenthood, “and want to let health insurance companies once again charge women just because of our gender.”

“We move forward when gay and transgender women are embraced...not fired from good jobs because of who they love or who they are,” she added.

It is not the first time the former first lady had said that liberal social policies should displace religious views. In a December 2011 speech in Geneva, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said perhaps the “most challenging issue arises when people cite religious or cultural values as a reason to violate or not to protect the human rights of LGBT citizens.” These objections, she said, are “not unlike the justification offered for violent practices towards women like honor killings, widow burning, or female genital mutilation.”

While opinions on homosexuality are “still evolving,” in time “we came to learn that no [religious] practice or tradition trumps the human rights that belong to all of us.”

Her views, if outside the American political mainstream, have been supported by the United Nations. The UN Population Fund stated in its 2012 annual report that religious objections to abortion-inducing drugs had to be overcome. According to the UNFPA report, “‘duty-bearers’ (governments and others)” have a responsibility to assure that all forms of contraception – including sterilization and abortion-inducing ‘emergency contraception’ – are viewed as acceptable – “But if they are not acceptable for cultural, religious or other reasons, they will not be used.”

Two years later, the United Nations' Committee on the Rights of the Child instructed the Vatican last February that the Catholic Church should amend canon law “relating to abortion with a view to identifying circumstances under which access to abortion services may be permitted.”

At Thursday's speech, Hillary called the legal, state-enforced implementation of feminist politics “the great unfinished business of the 21st century,” which must be accomplished “not just for women but for everyone — and not just in far away countries but right here in the United States.”

“These are not just women's fights. These have to be America's fights and the world's fights,” she said. “There's still much to be done in our own country, much more to be done around the world, but I'm confident and optimistic that if we get to work, we will get it done together.”

American critics called Clinton's suggestion that a nation founded upon freedom of religion begin using state force to change religious practices unprecedented.

“Never before have we seen a presidential candidate be this bold about directly confronting the Catholic Church's teachings on abortion,” said Bill Donohue of the Catholic League.

“In one sense, this shows just how extreme the pro-abortion caucus actually is,” Ed Morrissey writes at HotAir.com. “Running for president on the basis of promising to use the power of government to change 'deep seated cultural codes [and] religious beliefs' might be the most honest progressive slogan in history.”

He hoped that, now that she had called for governments to change religious doctrines, “voters will now see the real Hillary Clinton, the one who dismisses their faith just the same as Obama did, and this time publicly rather than in a private fundraiser.”

Donohue asked Hillary “to take the next step and tell us exactly what she plans to do about delivering on her pledge. Not only would practicing Catholics like to know, so would Evangelicals, Orthodox Jews, Muslims, and all those who value life from conception to natural death.”

You may watch Hillary's speech below.

Her comments on religion begin at approximately 9:00. 

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