Ontario Legislature Shoots Down Proposal by “Catholic” Premier to Scrap Lord’s Prayer

By Tim Waggoner and Steve Jalsevac

TORONTO, ON, June 13, 2008 - Despite intense lobbying efforts by Ontario’s premier, the Ontario legislature has voted by an overwhelming 58-0 in favour of keeping its daily reading of the Lord’s Prayer. 

However, while the legislature reacted strongly against the attempt to end the tradition, it did decide that a rotation of one prayer from Canada’s eight other major religions will now accompany the Lord’s Prayer.

Earlier this year, Premier Dalton McGuinty announced his belief that reading just the Lord’s Prayer every day before the opening of business was out of date. He then appointed an all-party committee to examine the issue.

That committee received more than 30,000 signatures on petitions, letters and e-mails asking the legislature to keep the Lord’s Prayer.

"We’re pleased to note that the importance of prayer has been recognized, and that the prayer best known by the vast majority of the province has been retained," said Catholic Civil Rights League President Phil Horgan. "The very large number of responses on this question indicates that Ontarians feel strongly about this issue, and take their traditions seriously."

On top of recommending the keeping of the Lord’s Prayer, the all-party committee suggested an additional rotational prayer from another religion, and a moment of silence.

Although McGuinty started the fiery debate on the issue, he didn’t show up for the vote that saw his proposal overwhelmingly defeated, saying that he "was just caught up in other things."

Other Ontario MPPs, however, did not share the McGuinty’s disregard for the issue.

Conservative MPP Bob Runciman (Leeds-Grenville) said the vote is "a rejection of his [McGuinty’s] musings…He even admitted his mother was upset with him."

"This is his baby. Why he put his foot in this water, no one knows," said Runciman.

United Church Minister and NDP MPP Cheri DiNovo (Parkdale-High Park), who was a member of the all-party committee, also pointed a finger at the Premier, accusing him of wasting taxpayer dollars.

"This was a fire that Dalton McGuinty started," said DiNovo.

"We in the New Democratic Party did not want to spend taxpayers’ money on this. What we wanted to talk about was child poverty, manufacturing job losses," she said.

She also commented on the fact that she received no citizen complaints regarding the recital of the Lord’s Prayer in the Ontario Legislature.

"I didn’t receive one email asking to revoke the Lord’s Prayer before Dalton opened his mouth and talked about revoking the Lord’s Prayer," she affirmed.

In Canada, Catholic politicians at both the federal and provincial levels have a history of initiating and passing measures that have gradually dismantled Canada’s once strong Christian culture. To the dismay of the country’s faithful Catholics and Christians of other denominations, the nation’s bishops have rarely held the politicians to account for these actions which include imposing abortion on demand and same-sex marriage on the nation.

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