Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and
Issue 24 - Evidence - Morning Session
ST. JOHN'S, Wednesday, July 10, 1996
The Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs met this day
at 8:30 a.m. to continue its consideration of the resolution to amend the
Constitution of Canada, Term 17 of the Terms of Union of Newfoundland with
Senator Sharon Carstairs (Chair) in the Chair.
The Chair: The participants before us this morning represent the Integrated
Education Council. Our discussion will focus on the way in which the integrated
schools function and also, of course, on their beliefs and feelings expressed
with respect to Term 17.
Senator Rompkey: On a point of order, before we begin, I would ask that the
statement of Premier Tobin and the release from Mr. Fallon this morning be
added to the record because of the importance given to these; it was the lead
story in the media last night. It is critical for our hearings and critical for
those people who will read the testimony that we table both statements.
If you agree, Madam Chair, I would read them into the record, but the
alternative is to table them.
Senator Kinsella: On the point of order, the matter which Senator Rompkey wishes
to have tabled before this committee deals with a subject matter and matters
which were not submitted to this committee.
Senator Rompkey: That clearly is not true. Mr. Fallon made the statement before
the committee yesterday.
The Chair: Senator Rompkey, let Senator Kinsella finish and then you can address
Senator Kinsella: Whatever the debate is between Premier Tobin and Mr. Fallon,
that is between them. Under the order of the Senate, this committee is to
examine the proposed resolution. We invite witnesses to help us in our analysis
of this resolution through the testimony that we hear and, related to that
testimony, through the documents which the witnesses table. If a witness wishes
to table some document and testify to it, that is fine. However, Senator
Rompkey is attempting to introduce into the record of this committee something
which has not been brought to us by any witness.
Mr. Fallon was a witness, and we have his statement on the record. If Mr. Tobin
wishes to appear before us, I am sure the committee would be happy to hear him.
It seems to me that it would be out of order for the committee to do what
Senator Rompkey is proposing.
Senator Rompkey: Mr. Fallon made his statements here on the record. They were
broadcast on television last night. They are available to all who want to read
them. Mr. Tobin's statements are quite the opposite. To have a fair record, we
need to have both statements on the record. The key issue for us is finding out
what the people support. The election itself was a chance for people to express
themselves. Whether there was a deal or not between the Liberal Party and the
Pentecostal and Catholic churches is critical to how the people of Newfoundland
voted in the election, and whether they considered it an issue in the election.
That is crucial to knowing what the people of Newfoundland actually believe and
Senator Beaudoin: I agree the question was put to us to a certain extent
yesterday, but if we want the point of view of the Premier, then the Premier
should come and explain it.
Senator Rompkey: It is a little late now to add witnesses. The minister of
education will come. It is my position that our record will be incomplete,
unfair and incorrect if Mr. Fallon's statement stands without the addition of
the statement of the premier. If we want balanced testimony, we must have both
statements on the record. I am prepared to have not only his statement of
yesterday but his statement of today added to the record, but I also want the
premier's statement added to our record.
Senator Kinsella: Upon what rule of the Senate is Senator Rompkey relying to
sustain his point of order?
Senator Rompkey: Fairness and equity.
Senator Kinsella: His point of order is clearly out of order pursuant to our
rules. As Senator Beaudoin has pointed out, if Senator Rompkey is interested in
having a document submitted by the premier, then the premier or one of his
ministers can come and table that document. It should not be done, however, in
the way that Senator Rompkey is proposing. The politics of Newfoundland is not
something that is of interest to this committee.
The Chair: Honourable senators, I will interrupt this discussion. I will take
the matter under advisement, and make a ruling later. I will hear the witnesses
now and we may have an in camera session to discuss it at the end of this
Senator MacDonald: I would note, Madam Chair, that this is not a matter of
rules; it is a matter of relevance. The decision on whether the request of
Senator Rompkey has relevance is your decision. It is your ruling.
Mr. David Carmichael, Integrated Education Council: We welcome this opportunity
to address you on the proposed amendment to Term 17. This whole issue has
revolved around a struggle for control over the education system in this
In the past, we operated in partnership with government in an attempt to deliver
a quality education to our children. However, in recent times the effectiveness
of this partnership has been questioned.
The detailed brief presented by the Integrated Education Council contains four
main sections. These are: an historical overview, a rationale for church
involvement in secular education, the essential aspects for religious education
programming in integrated schools, and a legal analysis of the potential impact
of the amendment to Term 17 on the religious education programming in integrated
The position of each class in integration on the status of Term 17 will be made
in a separate presentation. Our presentation will only deal with the four
topics outlined above.
Historically, schools in this province were started by churches, or by various
religious societies inspired by churches. As a result, a system of
denominational education evolved with several denominations having rights in
legislation when we became a province in Canada in 1949. These rights were
included in the Canadian Constitution under Term 17 of the Terms of Union.
Following Confederation, tremendous growth was experienced in many aspects of
education in the province. Largely in response to this growth, in 1964 the
government of the day established a royal commission to make a careful study of
all aspects of education in Newfoundland and to make recommendations regarding
change. As a result of these discussions, which were substantially prompted by
the work of this commission, two major developments occurred which have been
very significant for the denominational system of education: Through a process
of discussion and negotiation, the major churches involved in education agreed
to withdraw from direct involvement in the Department of Education and to carry
out their mandate through agencies established outside the departmental
structure. As a result, in 1969, the Integrated Education Council was given the
mandate to act on behalf of the Anglican, Presbyterian, Salvation Army, and
United Church classes of people.
Madam Chair, a rather important point of clarification needs to be made at this
time relative to the decision referred to above to form one integrated system
of education in 1969. While the individual classes concerned voluntarily agreed
to exercise their rights with respect to education collectively, none of the
classes subsequently gave up their individual class rights in education, which
has been erroneously stated in certain circles.
Those of us involved in the integrated system of education are proud of our
accomplishments over the past 27 years. Our system is an ecumenical endeavour
of five denominations -- Anglican, Moravian, Presbyterian, Salvation Army, and
United Church -- in the governance and operation of school districts, directed
at promoting the five-fold direction of youth, being intellectual, physical,
social, emotional and spiritual.
With respect to the intellectual, physical, emotional and social development,
the integrated system does not differ markedly from other systems. With respect
to spiritual development, however, the system employs a non-confessional,
divergent approach aimed at providing for and encouraging young people to come
to their own decisions on spiritual and moral commitments. This approach
focuses on enabling students to understand the nature of religion and its
influence in society, helping them to clarify their thinking on various
fundamental questions, and helping them to develop an approach to life based on
Christian principles. It is expected that this will be accomplished not only
through the religious education programs prescribed for the schools, but also
through a variety of other activities intended to influence the overall
atmosphere of the school.
In summary, the churches in integration have identified the following as 10
essential aspects of religious programming, broadly based. These are: the
development, in-servicing and implementation of programs in religious
education; the need for compatibility of the general curriculum with approved
programs in religious education; the need to avoid conflict between a general
curriculum and religious education programming; classroom worship, including the
use of devotional materials, scripture readings, reflections and prayers;
religious observances, services and liturgies in the schools at appropriate
times during the school year, for example, at for Christmas, Easter,
Thanksgiving and Armistice Day; an appropriate religious component in school
assemblies, concerts and graduation ceremonies, and at other events in the life
of the school including the use of devotional materials, scripture readings,
reflections, prayers, and addresses or exhortations by members of the clergy;
liaison between the school and local churches and clergy, including organized
visits by students to churches and attendances at special services; access to
schools by individual members of the clergy or their representatives;
development and implementation of a chaplaincy program, including input into
school assemblies and other events in the life of the school; counselling and
crises intervention; the use of appropriate religious visual representations and
the deposit of Bibles and other devotional material in the school.
Finally, the fostering of a Christian atmosphere generally throughout the school
by integrating Christian principles and practices, as exemplified above, into
the mainstream of school life and not relegating them to the margins as, for
example, by limiting them to hours and times outside the normal school
operating hours, or to times within the confines of religious education classes
In an effort to determine the effect of the proposed change to Term 17 and the
essential features of our religious education program as outlined above, we
requested our legal counsel to provide us with an analysis. The full text of
this legal opinion is contained in the detailed brief that has been submitted to
you. However, we felt it would be useful to provide a concise summary of these
legal concerns with the proposed Term 17.
The proposed revision to Term 17 will entrench in the Constitution a two-tiered
system of (a) interdenominational schools open to all students, a new concept,
and (b) integrated denominational Pentecostal and Roman Catholic schools for
those classes of people. Although all of these schools are called
denominational schools in the proposed revision, there will be no definition or
referential statement of what a denominational school is.
The content of the term "denominational school" will likely be derived
from the language of the proposed revision itself. Religious education rights
accorded to an interdenominational school -- open to all students -- are
narrower than those recorded in respect of, for example, an integrated school.
Specifically, this is because the interdenominational school is open to all,
whereas the constitutional right to imbue Christian values into that school,
through religious education, is class-limited.
A true denominational school in the Canadian tradition is one wherein Christian
religious values are fostered throughout the school, and not just in the time
allocated to the religious education curriculum. There are many aspects of
education in a denominational school where the school functions as a community:
for example in classroom worship, school prayer, assemblies, symbolic visual
representations, concerts, entertainments and graduations.
There is concern that the Christian values which now imbue these and other
activities may be ousted by judicial intervention in favour of more clearly
stated constitutional rights such as freedom of conscience and religion. If
that happens, then the interdenominational schools will be indistinguishable
from public secular schools, except that certain classes of people will have the
right to use the facilities for narrowly defined purposes limited to students
separated along class lines.
In summary, we believe the church does not need to be involved in every aspect
of the educational system but ought to be actively involved in pastoral care,
personal development and religious education. We ought to ensure that an
educational environment is created whereby students are provided the
opportunity to develop understandings, attitudes, values, beliefs and behaviours
that will enable them to deal adequately with themselves, their relationship
with others, and with the created order.
In order to enable young people to deal adequately with themselves, their
relationship with others, and their grasp of the meaning and purpose of life,
there needs to be some cooperative, complementary arrangement in which church
and school operate in partnership. All we are asking is that we be afforded the
opportunity to continue this important work in our schools.
Mr. Hubert Norman, Integrated Education Council: I will not add to that
presentation but will pass to Bishop Harvey.
Right Reverend Donald Harvey, Anglican Church: Honourable senators, speaking on
behalf of the three Anglican dioceses in the province of Newfoundland and
Labrador, I welcome this opportunity to address this committee on a topic which
has proven to be as confusing as it certainly is controversial.
It is very unfortunate that this issue has been referred to the Parliament of
Canada, but now that it has reached this stage, I feel it is in the best
interests of all concerned that we bring the matter to a speedy conclusion
which, while not satisfying the legitimate concerns of many of the parties,
would enable the province to proceed with the reforms for which there appears
to be an urgency and a growing sense of impatience.
Assuming that many of the briefs you have heard already have made much reference
to the background events of this controversy, I will refrain from reiterating
it. Rather, I will simply attempt to state our concerns and recommendation in a
concise and direct manner.
The proposed change to Term 17, coming as a result of last September's
referendum, is a flawed document, I feel, on at least three counts. First, it
may not be able to ensure that religious education and a Christian ambience in
our schools would survive a challenge under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Thus, what has been a constitutional right could well be lost, not in Parliament
but in the Supreme Court of Canada.
Second -- and this is of more concern at the moment -- many people, for a wide
number of reasons, not the least being the unfortunate, politically motivated
timing of the referendum last year, are under the impression that the new Term
17 will give them far more in the way of reform than it possibly can. While
much will be changed, much more will be retained and entrenched, giving a
further sense of betrayal. Already, very frustrated people are talking of what
they call the spirit of the referendum. While such a phrase will not lend
itself to a legal definition, there is a certain moral connotation here which
will come to the fore when attempts are made to implement those changes which
the new term will still allow.
Chief among the concerns for which many people felt they were authorizing the
government to take action which may not now be forthcoming are the
establishment of neighbourhood schools throughout the province, and the
principle that teachers would be employed solely on the basis of qualifications
Third, it is unfortunate that so much detail on the actual governance of schools
in this province will now be enshrined in the Constitution of Canada, making it
extraordinarily difficult for changes of a routine nature to be made in the
Yet while pointing out these obvious pitfalls, which we have often done in the
past, it is our firm opinion that the Senate should vote yes for this
legislation, so that, even with the challenges which may become with this
passage, we may begin in earnest to bring about so many of the essential
reforms which for the last several years have been overshadowed and ignored by
this aspect of the debate.
As church leaders, most of us recognize all too painfully the discontent, the
suspicion and the real desire for change which exists in this province today.
Some of these signs are not healthy, but it would be folly to ignore that they
are there. Indeed, I can personally testify that during 33 years of ordained
ministry on the island and in Labrador, which included witnessing the
implementation of the Warren report in the 1960s, I have never witnessed
anything remotely like the genuine concern, dissatisfaction and even hostility
over the manner in which a large core of people perceive this whole matter to
have been manipulated and bungled at all levels.
Six years ago, a royal commission began the task of determining the educational
structure for this province. Four years ago, they delivered their report.
Because of constitutional rights of the churches, the government of the day
felt that these recommendations could not be implemented without the consent of
these churches. After much debate, and when it was obvious that such consent
was not attainable, for better or for worse a referendum was held almost one
year ago. The government felt that, as a result, they were given a mandate from
the people to change the Constitution. All the various stages in the democratic
process have been passed affirmatively and with clear majorities, even if it
did mean subjecting our system to ridicule and to gross misinformation on the
floor of the House of Commons.
The last stage now rests with you where we sincerely hope you will give it the
necessary approval so that governance of our school system will come directly
into the hands of our elected representatives. We suggest that to delay passage
would serve no purpose other than to prolong the agony and to prevent reform,
some of which will be painful no matter when it comes, from being implemented
for yet another year. The longer this matter is left undecided, the more
entrenched opinions will become, with the task of reconciliation and rebuilding
relationships made even more difficult.
The Anglican Church has played a pivotal role in the history of education in
Newfoundland and Labrador, right from its earliest days. Twenty-five years ago,
when it became obvious that the overall system was becoming cumbersome and
outdated, we took a leadership role in bringing about integration which, while
it did not come easily, has never been regretted by most of our adherents. Our
main concern still is to provide the highest quality of education within the
means of this province.
Such education, we suggest, must be holistic in nature, providing sound
Christian teaching as the foundation on which the rest of the program is built.
Far too much of our time and resources in recent years have been deployed in a
power struggle -- and nothing but a power struggle -- which has served to
weaken and dilute the attainment of these objectives. Our hope now is that this
resolution will be passed, and that the government, with its new authority,
will listen to the dictates of its people as they attempt to frame a system
which will embody the best of the past while providing for efficiency and
consolidation to meet the rapidly changing demographics of this province. We owe
our children nothing less.
Reverend Ian Wishart, Presbyterian Church: Honourable senators, I appear on
behalf of the Presbytery of Newfoundland and the Presbyterian Church in Canada.
The Presbyterians support interdenominational schools in which children of all
religions share in high quality curriculum and activity for everyone. This has
been our practice for 150 years and it continues to be our position.
The churches now represented by the Presbytery have had a part in Newfoundland
education for over 200 years. The Congregation of Dissenters, founded in 1775,
concerned themselves with education throughout their history. This body
continued as the Congregational Church until 1938 -- not 1936. Oddly enough,
only in Newfoundland did the Congregationalists became part of the Presbyterian
Church and not part of the United Church.
In 1938, the Congregational Church became part of the Presbytery which is now
St. David's Presbyterian Church. Several schools were operated by the
congregation, both in St. John's and elsewhere in the province. When St.
Andrew's Church was founded in 1842 in St. John's, educational matters were
soon a matter of consequence.
The Reverend Donald Allan Fraser spoke eloquently in favour of a single
education system for all children. He had observed a situation in Nova Scotia
where sectarian Presbyterian interests had promoted Presbyterian schools for
Presbyterian pupils, and he had regarded it as divisive and educationally
unsound. Despite his pleading, in the middle of the nineteenth century the
Newfoundland system was organized on denominational lines. Even then,
Presbyterians opted for interdenominational schools. About 1851, the General
Protestant Academy was founded for the benefit of the children of three
denominations: the Congregational Church, the Church of Scotland, and the Free
Church. In 1875, the latter two came together as part of the new Presbyterian
Church in Canada, and people here were involved.
After the fire in St. John's in 1892, the Congregationalists withdrew support
from the Academy and a new school was erected called the Presbyterian College.
This continued until 1924. It is interesting that the Methodists and
Presbyterians united for education even before there was a United Church, and
formed the United Church Board of Education and built the new Prince of Wales
College. This arrangement continued until the 1960s, and in 1969 the
Presbyterians joined integration with the combining of the educational efforts
of the Anglican and United Churches and the Salvation Army. We have continued
this association and have sought to enlarge it.
The Moravian Church has been included in the integrated church in recent years.
We had a discussion with Premier Wells in July of last year. He assured us that
the Moravian group would be included in the integrated group in the future.
When we saw the amended Term 17 that came forward, we realized that they were
to be excluded, not only by arrangement but by the Constitution. We regret the
action of the government that prevents the Moravians from being part of the
integration in the future.
In other centres, Presbyterians have also been active participants in combined
educational endeavours. Presbyterians were prominent in the affairs of the
Harbour Grace Academy in the nineteenth century. The schoolmaster was a Mr.
Roddick, a Presbyterian, whose son Thomas Roddick played a distinguished role
in the development of the medical faculty of McGill University. The gates at
McGill University are known as the Roddick Gates. As a member of Parliament in
Ottawa, Thomas Roddick helped to develop the medical licensing boards across
Canada. In Grand Falls and in other places, Presbyterians were active
supporters of amalgamated schools.
It should be clear from the above that the Presbyterian Church has been a
pioneer in interdenominational education in Newfoundland, and that
Presbyterians have been prominent in support of education. Considering our
tradition, it is very inappropriate that current proposals would designate our
interdenominational association as unidenominational. The Presbyterians support
the continuance of a strong program of religious education in the schools. This
has been a major reason for our continued participation in the work of the
integrated system in Newfoundland and Labrador.
The aims of education in Newfoundland, as stated in the policies of the
Department of Education, base the provincial school system on a Christian
foundation in a society with democratic values. Since those aims were
formulated, we have become much more aware of the pluralistic nature of
Canadian society, and we recognize that religions other than Christian must be
given respect and recognition. We do not think that this means that Christian
teachings and observances should be removed from our schools.
In the first place, over 90 per cent of the population of the province profess
an adherence to recognized Christian denominations. Second, one does no honour
to differing religions to ban all religion from the classroom. Third, an honest
prayer from a believer should have at least as much recognition in a classroom
as the scorn of an atheist or the dreams of a new age. If the law should ban
statements of belief from the classroom, it should also ban denials of belief.
The presence of Christian teaching in the classroom reflects the honoured
tradition of education in Newfoundland and Labrador, and it conforms to the
fundamental law of Canada as recognized in the Constitution Acts.
Since 1969, a major undertaking of the Integrated Education Council has been the
implementation of a program of religious education in all grades from
kindergarten to grade 12. There has been an enormous effort. We are very much
concerned that this could be discarded in the reorganization of the school
The program requires financial support like any other program in the schools.
Textbooks must be written and revised. Specialist teachers must be recruited
and trained. Time must be provided in crowded timetables. Administrative
support must be available, locally and provincially. We think it should be
The Presbytery of Newfoundland recently passed a motion that we rejoice in the
quarter century of cooperation in education with the United, Anglican and
Moravian churches and the Salvation Army. We wish to continue with them as an
integrated group within the education system.
We would regard a system such as that in effect in Ontario as unacceptable. Why
should the Roman Catholic Church be allowed the sole right to teach religion in
the schools? In Ontario, Protestants used to have rights in education, going a
long way back to Egerton Ryerson. These rights were removed without adequate
representation from the churches. We would not want to see the same happen here
in Newfoundland and Labrador.
The referendum on education gave expression to the desire of many of our people
that the churches should have a smaller role in the administration of schools.
We agree with that desire. The Presbytery of Newfoundland has stated that
denominational committees should have authority only on matters of religious
education and Christian atmosphere and observances. We do not wish to control
school boards. We do not wish to direct the hiring and firing of teachers. We
do not wish to regulate admission policies of schools. We do not wish to
administer the construction and maintenance of school buildings. These matters
should be left in the hands of elected governments and school boards. That
having been said, we would object to passing control to other churches to the
detriment of our students, parents and teachers. We have fears under the
present scheme that this may, in fact, happen.
We recognize the right of the legislature to direct the administration of
education and we would expect the wishes of parents to be paramount in our
schools. However, we have been advised by lawyers for the Integrated Education
Council that the revised Term 17 may put our religious education programs, and
the Christian ambience of our schools, at risk from challenge in court.
Despite this reservation, we are anxious to see education reform proceed in
accordance with the expressed wishes of the voters. We expect that the
Constitution will be amended, and we will make representation to the provincial
government concerning new legislation governing schools.
Lieutenant-Colonel Howard Moore, The Salvation Army: Honourable senators, I am
here today as one of the leaders of the Salvation Army in this province. I
represent a denomination which has been part of the integrated system of
education since its formation in 1969.
The Salvation Army has had an interest in education in this province since our
denomination first established churches in the late 1800s. Our first schools
were initially set up in our churches or in our ministers' places of residence.
Records indicate that as early as 1901 there were three Salvation Army schools
existing in the province. From that time until the system of integration was
established, we had superintendents of education work cooperatively with other
denominational superintendents and the Department of Education to ensure that
the best possible quality of education was available to the young people of
During the late 1960s, through a process of discussion and negotiation, the
Salvation Army agreed to withdraw our superintendent from direct involvement in
the Department of Education and carry out our mandate through the Integrated
Education Council. As you are aware, denominational councils in this province
were given legislative functions to perform in such areas as developing and
implementing religious education programs, allocation of capital grants to
school boards, initial certification of teachers, and in several other areas.
Our association with four other denominations in carrying out this mandate over
the past 27 years has indeed been a satisfactory one, and one which we believe
has enhanced the quality of education for the children of Salvation Army
Currently, there are over 8,000 students in the province who declare Salvation
Army affiliation. The Salvation Army's involvement in education in this
province exists at the provincial level, the school district level, and the
school and classroom levels. Our corps officers have had access to the
integrated schools to participate in assemblies. Some continue to serve as
Let me say that the Salvation Army believes that there are needs represented in
students who attend our schools which require that they develop understandings,
attitudes, values, beliefs and behaviours which will enable them to deal
adequately with themselves, their relationships with others and with the
created order, and their grasp of the meaning and purpose of life. These are the
same areas in which religion has much to contribute. The churches are the major
agencies of religion dealing with them. Therefore, a logical and realistic way
to provide for moral and spiritual development would be some cooperative
arrangement in which church and school operate in partnership.
Ladies and gentlemen, the Salvation Army wishes and strongly supports the need
for change to the educational system in this province, in order to make it more
efficient and effective. We also hold a view that church involvement in
education must be such as to assure a Christian atmosphere in our schools and
the provision of religious education, broadly defined. These include, but are
not limited to, the development and implementation of a religious education
curriculum; provision for classroom worship including devotions, scripture
reading and prayers; religious observances and services at appropriate times of
the year such as Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter; appropriate religious
components in school assemblies and other events in the life of the school;
involvement of local clergy in school functions and initiatives.
The presentation on behalf of the Integrated Education Council earlier contained
an elaboration of the concept of religious education as we currently define it.
The right to provide for religious education in the way described currently
exists in our schools. The Salvation Army is asking for a continuance of that
The Salvation Army believes that the current wording of the proposed Term 17
removes the broad protection for religious education as we currently enjoy it
and replaces it with a more restricted provision. For example, in schools which
are accessible to all students, it appears that denominations which have rights
for religious education would only be able to offer this to their own children.
This might be at times and places where no other children are present, such as
at lunch or after school.
Religious education as we know it now would no longer exist. It is recognized
that opinions differ as to the proposed wording and the nature of the existence
of our rights. However, the legal opinions which we have received suggest that
there will be no clear guarantee that religious education programming, as we
now have it, will be possible.
Honourable senators, as a leader of the Salvation Army in this province, I am
appearing before you with one request: While we have no desire to delay the
passage of an amendment to the Constitution, we do have serious concerns about
the precise wording of the proposed Term 17. We, therefore, ask that you ensure
that an appropriate constitutional text is developed to guarantee clearly and
uncompromisingly that the schools in this province which are operated by
government funding will remain Christian schools, and that our children will
continue to enjoy religious education programming as we do today.
I thank you for the opportunity to appear before you this morning. I ask that
you assist in the continuance of a right which we have long held, allowing us
to help develop children who possess strong moral and spiritual values which
the Salvation Army believes will result in a stronger and more productive
Reverend Clarence Sellars, United Church: Honourable senators, in Newfoundland
and Labrador the church has always played a prominent role in education.
Indeed, for more than a century the schools that exist were established and
operated by the churches without direct public support.
When government first became involved in education in the early 1830s, the
church continued to be deeply involved in all educational matters. Its
influence to the present has been significant.
As one of the participating members in the church-state partnership which has
existed over the years, the United Church has taken very seriously its
responsibilities in education, and has always sought by every means possible to
cooperate with other religious denominations and governments in the provision
of the best possible educational opportunities for all. We have traditionally
maintained that our involvement in education has been motivated by a concern
for human development and the dignity and worth of each individual, rather than
by a desire to propagate a particular denominational perspective.
Indicative of our concern for the achievement of excellence in the quality of
education for all children of the province, we engaged in discussions with the
Anglican Church in the early 1960s with a view to amalgamating our two school
systems. Subsequently, we extended invitations to all other denominations
operating schools in the province at that time to join with us in those
discussions. Our invitation was accepted almost immediately by the Salvation
Army. It was not accepted by the Pentecostal leadership. Following a fairly
lengthy period of consideration, it was declined by the Roman Catholic
There were, however, two direct results of this initiative: the formation of a
unified school system -- the present integrated system -- by the major
Protestant denominations, and the development of a closer working relationship
among all denominations.
While the course of events in the last century has determined that the
involvement of the churches in integration include the establishment of school
district boundaries, the establishing and dissolving of school boards, the
disbursement of capital grants allocated to them by the government, along with
many other administrative matters, the position of the United Church has
remained clear and consistent: We have frequently and formally indicated our
willingness to relinquish all administrative control of education in favour of
a system in which the churches would retain solely the right to provide for
religious education, activities and observances. We do not see the
administration and governance of schools as being the responsibility of the
The provincial government is presently proposing a structure that will have
three main objectives: First, it will reduce the present 27 school boards to
10. Second, it will address the bus transportation issue, which is presently
costing the province millions of dollars as students are bused to various
denominational schools, even though they have to pass other schools to get to
their own. Third, the proposed framework will include the establishment of a
school construction board. This school construction board has the
responsibility to see that schools will not be built unnecessarily simply
because denominations want their own schools. We agree with these three
initiatives. They are in keeping with United Church policy.
On September 5, 1995, the people of this province voted in a referendum. Our
people believed that they were voting for more changes than what is contained
in these three initiatives. This is one of the reasons there has been so much
controversy in recent months. Disappointment has increased with the realization
that many expected changes were not part of the government's intention.
Following the referendum, the provincial government believed that it had a
mandate to approach the federal government to seek a revision of Term 17. As a
denomination, we have some problems with the re-wording of the revised Term 17.
The revised Term 17 provides for unidenominational schools. The concept of
unidenominational schools and, with it, the role of churches in the hiring and
dismissal of teachers is not supported by the policy of the United Church. The
hiring and dismissal of teachers is a professional, administrative function and
hence not the role of churches. The establishing of unidenominational schools
will make possible Roman Catholic, Pentecostal and integrated schools as well
as interdenominational schools. In fact, there will exist the freedom to have,
in addition to these, United Church schools, Anglican, Presbyterian, Salvation
Army and other schools. This will make the system even more confusing and
complex than it is at present. In fact, this could lead to greater division
among the denominations. Furthermore, what is so very important, it will not
allow for the development of neighbourhood schools.
We agree with revising Term 17 to the extent that it guarantees the churches the
right to provide for religious education, activities and observances. At the
same time, we believe that the revision of Term 17 does not go far enough
because it allows the churches to retain control of the administration and
governance of schools. While identifying our concerns, however, we believe that
major reforms are necessary. We encourage government to move quickly to
implement such reforms.
Senator Rompkey: Before I begin, can I confirm whether we have accepted the
brief from the Avalon Consolidated School Board.
The Chair: Yes, we have it.
Senator Rompkey: I welcome our witnesses. I should put on the record that when I
was a school superintendent here, Bishop Harvey was my boss. I welcome him and
this chance to renew that acquaintance.
I would deal with the establishment of neighbourhood schools throughout the
province, and with the principle that teachers would be employed solely on the
basis of qualifications and merits. We have not heard a great deal of testimony
on that latter point, although I expect we will talk about it when the
Newfoundland Teachers Association comes before us.
With regard to the establishment of neighbourhood schools throughout the
province, I was interested in the testimony of Reverend Sellars that bussing is
costing millions of dollars. We heard yesterday that in fact it was not the
denominational schools that were causing the bussing expense but the
consolidation of schools, and that bussing would have to go on as before whether
you had denominational schools or not.
We also heard that there is really no need for the new Term 17 because changes
in the system are going ahead anyway, and there is really not much duplication;
that there is not much money there to be diverted to teaching rather than being
spent on bricks and mortar.
I wanted Bishop Harvey to elaborate on the concept of neighbourhood schools. You
are supporting Term 17. You are supporting the direction of the government. Do
you foresee savings? Will neighbourhood schools provide an opportunity for
savings and for directing more funds to education?
Bishop Harvey: Senator Rompkey, my reference, as you are aware, is under the
section of the expectations of many people in the population. In particular, I
can refer to my own constituency. So much hype went around at referendum time,
and unfortunately it took place at this time of the year when it is very
difficult to get people together to explore just what the referendum was
promising. When the referendum passed, a large number of people felt that
neighbourhood schools would soon become a reality.
Of the representations which I have received, this issue and that of teacher
hiring were the two major concerns raised. People see it as counter-productive
to have to pass by two or three schools to get to the school to which they have
been allocated, even when it could be in the city of St. John's, where school
bussing is not provided as it is elsewhere in the province. I am not sure what
is happening there, because it has been at issue.
There are certainly areas in the central part of the province, for example,
where we have been told that integrated schools may very well have to close
because the people of the neighbourhood will be bused to other communities to
maintain unidenominational schools, with a resulting demise of the
neighbourhood school, which some people see, rightly or wrongly, as an obvious
right and an obvious way to do it. If there is a school in your neighbourhood,
that is the obvious one to attend.
From a cost point of view, again it would seem obvious that there would be many
savings here. I received testimony a short while ago from a person who had
moved back from the mainland into Mount Pearl. He was not aware of what he
referred to as "our antiquated system." He went to register his
children at the school up the road. He filled in all the application forms, and
everything was approved until he indicated that he was not of the denomination
of that particular school. He told my committee that, there and then, the
secretary picked up the application form and tore it in two. She said, "I
am sorry, you cannot come here. You must go to a school of your own
denomination." This is where the reform is needed.
Senator Rompkey: That is an important point, because we have heard testimony
that, in fact, all schools are public schools. We heard testimony yesterday
from both the Pentecostal and the Catholic representatives who were before us
that, in fact, many students in those schools were not of their denomination.
In one case, the ratio was 60/40. Therefore it is important to clarify the point
about who gets to attend what school, and what is the basis for attendance at a
Bishop Harvey: I suggest the demographics of the area plays a big part there.
The first call on a unidenominational school is for the adherents of that
particular denomination. If, on the other hand, there is a danger that the
school will not survive because the numbers are dwindling, then the philosophy
of admittance becomes quite different, I suggest.
Senator Rompkey: Regarding teachers being employed solely on qualification and
on merit, I would like to discuss this in the context of the testimony from Mr.
Carmichael. We have heard a lot of testimony about the ambience in schools. Of
course, it is perfectly acceptable and defensible for people to defend the
ambience in schools and the differences in schools. That is quite understandable
and defensible. However, I was interested in the testimony given in regard to
the ambience in integrated schools.
Page 2 of the brief covers essential aspects of religious education programming,
the developing and in-servicing of programs of religious education, approved
programs of religions education, classroom worship, including the use of
Scripture readings, religious observances, liturgies. All of these you think
are essential in the schools.
There may be other things which create the ambience of a religious atmosphere in
the school. I am not here to debate that. It seems to me that your testimony
indicates that you do want a religious ambience in the school, that it is
important and that it can be maintained. I would like to have you comment on
that in the context of the hiring of teachers because it seems to me that is
One of the obvious aspects for restricting the hiring of teachers to a
particular denomination would be to create, presumably, a religious ambience in
the school. Can you comment on the policy of hiring teachers on the basis of
qualification, of merit, in the context of providing religious ambience in the
Bishop Harvey: Personally, senator, I do not think it would be contradictory to
endeavour to have the core of our teaching staff sympathetic to the milieu we
are in or the ambience we are attempting to create in the school. We would
object if any of our own individual denominations within the integrated system
took it upon themselves to apply their own unique moral standards, which might
not be consistent with the others, to suggest that unless a teacher conforms
with those they have no right to teach in that school.
We have a large number of teachers employed in integrated schools today who are
not of the integrated denominations. They are fine, upright teachers who are
able to provide a fine Christian ambience in the schools but who are not
employable by schools operated by their own denominations because they have not
fulfilled certain requirements or because they have run afoul of certain
religious requirements that were imposed upon them. We would not want to see
that in the schools for which we were responsible.
I do not really think there is a contradiction here. We want to ensure that the
persons responsible for religious education are properly qualified to teach
such courses. We would like to think that any teacher teaching at a school
within the Newfoundland system, especially as it exists and as we hope it will
continue to exist, will be people who will, at the very least, not be hostile to
the ambience we are creating. We hope that the large majority of them would be
sympathetic to it.
Senator Rompkey: Are you satisfied that religious observances and other
activities which create religious atmosphere in the school can be carried on in
the schools in the future if Term 17 is changed?
Bishop Harvey: Yes, senator, with the qualification which I mentioned before.
There are eminent lawyers who have said to us that this will not stand the
challenge. Other very renowned lawyers tell us it will. I guess only time will
tell. However, I am frustrated enough to think that if we had 10 lawyers here
it would split almost down the middle. Five would say that we have no fears
while the other five would say that we have everything to fear.
Senator Rompkey: The employment of teachers issue is an important one for us. As
a committee, we have not explored it. We will hear from the Newfoundland
We have been talking about rights here, the rights of minorities, students and
parents. Teachers also have rights, human rights and professional rights. It
seems to me that that is something we as a committee will have to come to grips
I want to make sure I am clear on how you feel about what the policy should be
with regard to the hiring of teachers. Do you feel that the primary emphasis
should be on qualifications and merit?
Bishop Harvey: We have left the hiring of teachers almost entirely to the
professional people on the board. The professional people know what is the
philosophy of education that we are attempting to employ. I feel we have been
extraordinarily successful in appointing teachers to do that. It is one of the
areas in which we feel that integration has proved that this can be done, and
done well. I think our record will stand up to that.
Mr. Sellars: Madam Chair, it seems to me very unfortunate that any person, any
professional individual, would be hired or dismissed because of his or her
religious denomination. There have been situations in this province where
teachers have been refused employment because of not belonging to a particular
denomination, although that individual may very well be a qualified
professional person who could contribute in a major way to the life of a school.
Yet because that person does not belong to a certain religious denomination, he
or she is not given the opportunity to demonstrate that professionalism and to
contribute to the life of that school. That seems to me to be most unfortunate.
Senator MacDonald: It would be very helpful to us, gentlemen, if, as you go
along, you could make reference to those subtle nuances or different approaches
among you. I have marked some of them in the various briefs you have presented,
but I have not marked them all. You are not unanimous. You are not speaking
clearly and unequivocally with one voice. If you could note the differences
among you, then that would be helpful to us.
Senator Ottenheimer: I would just like to make sure that I understand correctly
the question with respect to the admission to schools in Newfoundland of people
of religious affiliations different from that of the school. My understanding
is -- and I may be incorrect, I may have misunderstood testimony given
yesterday, or perhaps I misinterpreted it -- that, for example, in a one-school
community all pupils have a legal right of access, whether they are adherents of
a denomination, Christian or whatever. I also understand that pupils who are
not one of the classes of people recognized under Term 17 or who are of other
Christian faiths or, indeed, who are of non-Christian faiths or agnostic, that
they also have a legal right of admission to the school. Obviously, these pupils
are not required to follow any religious instruction or to participate in
Just to make a bottom line of it, my understanding, whether correct or
incorrect, is that these areas have not created problems, that is, the
admission of those who have no schools of their own to schools which are now
confessional in one way or another. Is my understanding correct?
Bishop Harvey: To my knowledge, your bottom line is quite accurate.
Senator Ottenheimer: The reason I say that, perhaps more as a Newfoundlander
than anything else, is that it is obvious that we have not achieved perfection
in many things in terms of education or most other endeavours of human
activity. However, we are sometimes painted or depicted outside the hallowed
walls of this province as not having a comprehensive and tolerant kind of
attitude that most of us like to think has typified our people historically in
terms of our approach to one another.
I should like to ask a question from the perspective of rights. I have to say by
way of preface that I do not think there is anyone opposed to the necessity to
improve education in Newfoundland. I refer to any of the groups who have
participated, whether they be government representatives or the representatives
of various denominations, that is, those who support what I call the "substitute
Term 17" and those who oppose the "substitute Term 17". I think
we are all in favour of improvement in the quality of education. Obviously, in
a pluralist society, we do not all think the same way. There are different
opinions about how the end is best accomplished, but that is part of the human
condition, I suppose.
I wish to talk about the integrated as a shorthand. I realize the term
represents those classes of people who, historically, have agreed to exercise
together their rights with reference to education governance. I realize there
are differences in position; but I suppose the common denominator is the
document which was put out on behalf of the integrated per se. As I see it, the
essential thrust of the integrated is that while they have reservations with
respect to the substitute Term 17, in that it does not or may not sufficiently,
specifically or unequivocally enough identify the right for religious
instruction and observances, they feel that it should go forward. They feel that
this is, if one wishes to put it this way, the sort of mandate or the
expectation of the majority in the referendum who voted "yes". There
are, of course, those who voted "no" in the referendum. As I
understand it, they represent Seventh-day Adventists and one-half of 1 per cent
of the students; the figure for the Pentecostal Assemblies was 7 per cent,
while for the Roman Catholics it was 37 per cent. I realize that there are
people in those categories who voted "yes". Obviously, there are
people in the integrated category who voted "no". However, this is
the position in terms of the general mandate, or at least it is the position as
explained by the spokespersons for these classes of people.
Obviously, then, there is a problem in terms of minority rights. I realize that
one can abstract people from any category and that all can be minorities, yet
one can put groupings together and one or another group may not be. I do not
think that argument gets us very far.
Certainly, one-half of 1 per cent is a minority, as is 7 per cent. Even 37 per
cent is a minority.
I fully recognize the right of the majority who wish to discontinue the exercise
of certain rights of governance which they have had historically and who
realize they wish to maintain the Christian milieu of the school but that they
also wish to give up voluntarily other aspects of governance of the school. On
the other hand, there are those who do not wish to give up those rights which
arise as the result of a constitutional reference created in the Terms of Union
and the constitutional amendment of 1987. Perhaps one can say they never should
have had the rights or, perhaps, that they do not exercise them the way they
should on certain occasions. It is not for me to get into that. I really do not
How does one deal with the fact that there are minorities who, according to
their spokesmen, do not wish to give up rights of governance which others wish
to give up? Should they be obliged to give up rights to governance because
others wish to do so? Or should there be a realization that unless and until
they wish to give up those rights of governance, they should be able to continue
to exercise the rights that they have had historically?
Bishop Harvey: Senator, that is something I have wrestled with quite a bit in
recent weeks. Indeed, I have wrestled with it for even longer than that. Your
question presupposes that the revised Term 17 will take away those rights. I am
not convinced that that is the case, although I recognize there is the
possibility of that happening.
I also accept your conjecture that, basically, the demographics of the
referendum were as you say. You recognize that it has to be conjecture in that
there is no way to identify the vote. Having said that, I come from the
position -- and I realize there are loopholes in it but I am satisfied with it
-- that the rights were given to those who were involved in education in the
Christian churches in 1949. They were not a minority. In fact, they were the
vast majority of the population of the province. In 1949, they may have
represented 95 per cent to 100 per cent of the population of the province. There
is no doubt, and I think you have said this, that within that group there are
differences of opinion. I am not convinced myself that it is right to call
those differences of opinion "minority rights". I think the people
involved with minority rights in this whole issue are those outside that
category altogether. I think this is something you may have heard from some of
I think the onus is on the churches to whom these rights were given to exercise
those rights, to see how they will do this together. Unfortunately, in our
society the only way to do that is through government. You elect people who you
think will represent you in this particular way. You hold them accountable for
If I were Jewish, Hindu or an agnostic, I would feel very much in the minority
here. However, as a member of the churches that were involved when Term 17 was
first brought into being, I find it difficult to see how any of us are in the
minority. Certainly, Anglican people in Newfoundland are in the minority when
compared to everyone else. The churches in education are and continue to be in
the majority. Which ever way you straighten this out, I do not think the issue
can be or should be resolved on the coat-tails of minority rights.
The Chair: You have been writing notes Reverend Wishart.
Mr. Wishart: I am generally writing notes on what is going on. There is no doubt
that the Presbyterians are a minority in Newfoundland. I do not think anyone
can suggest that we are a majority. We have to agree that the Presbyterians are
a minority in Newfoundland, as they are a minority in Canada.
One of the concerns about minority rights is that we do not want to have taken
away our present right as a minority to participate in the education system.
What we fear might happen is that the integrated system may be the one that is
carved up. It is the integrated system that may be blown away. We would,
perhaps, have to put in front of our people a choice as to whether they want to
go to interdenominational schools or integrated schools. How anyone will ever
decide that, I do not know. It is a Hobson's choice.
It is the integrated group which is under serious attack in terms of the present
arrangement. We will have to fight our way on that one. When we are talking
about minority rights, we are talking about the minority rights of the Roman
Catholics or the Pentecostals. Perhaps, at the end of the exercise, they may
end up with what they need and we will not.
The question of whether this should go through because it would not protect the
minority who do not wish their rights to be removed is not the right way to
look at it.
Mr. Sellars: In connection with this issue with which we have had to wrestle as
a denomination in this province, in this country and outside this country, I
would point out that, consistently, we have stood beside marginalized peoples.
We have sought justice and equality for all people. When it comes to the issue
of minority rights in education, I have to admit that I do not see that as an
issue. We can call it other things, but I am not so sure that we ought to
confine it to an issue of minority rights. We must realize that in this great
country of ours we have a way to protect minorities, and we have done that. If
we were to admit that it is an issue of minority rights within the education
system, then we have a way of protecting those rights as well. It has been
pointed out already that even within the integrated system there are people who
could, if they wanted to, classify themselves as minorities. Yet, they are not
complaining. Their rights are protected. In the one-church school system that we
have been advocating in this province, if we were to follow through with the
integrated system and extend it to include all denominations, then, again, all
rights would be protected under that system, just as they are protected in our
democracy. We do not see that as a problem. I certainly could not support the
fact that we have to hold this up as an issue and say that we are depriving
minorities of their rights.
Senator Ottenheimer: It is my intention to get the opinion of the witnesses and
not to argue with them. I realize like any term the term "minority"
is open to various definitions. I certainly recognize that those who are
agnostic, Jewish, Muslim or Hindu have their rights. I realize that,
traditionally, even though a large majority of our population of Christian, it
is incumbent upon us to recognize and be sensitive to those whose background is
quite different from Christian. I realize, too, that every so-called
stakeholder can be defined as a minority. In that regard I refer to
Presbyterians, Pentecostals, Roman Catholics, Seventh-day Adventists and
others. Without arguing whether the subject of minority rights is an important
issue or not, I would certainly say that it is perceived to be an important
issue for Roman Catholics, Pentecostals and Seventh-day Adventists. They are
certainly of the opinion that their minority rights will be infringed upon.
Just dealing in the area of perception, I do not see that as merely a
perception. It is arguably a fact and it is arguably not a fact. I do not wish
to argue. However, the question of perception has a real reality in personal
and social relations as we all know. Perception is a very important factor. I
understand what has gone on in the past two or three years. I do not think a
referendum is a way to settle these issues, but that is water under the bridge
which has long since flowed into the Sargasso Sea. However, this has created
problems. I believe Bishop Harvey's brief refers to reconciliation and to
rebuilding relationships. One can take part in that, but I think it is something
we all realize. This province has existed over a long period of time in the
most difficult of social, economic and political circumstances. There has been
material deprivation and want. We have had a pretty rough history by North
American and other standards, but we have managed to survive. We have managed to
maintain our identity and pride as a people. Hopefully, we have managed to
maintain our faith in the future. Although, historically, there have been
elements of divisiveness in the past few decades, at least there has been a
great improvement in the relationships among our people.
Is it possible to identify through further meetings and dialogue a position
which would not be, perhaps, anyone's optimum position but one with which
everyone could live without anyone feeling disenfranchised or ill-treated? Is
that feasible? In your opinion, is it achievable? I am sure you think it is
desirable, but is it achievable?
Mr. Norman: I do not with to respond specifically to the senator's last
question. However, I wish to deal with the three issues that have been raised,
that is, minority rights, the question of neighbourhood schools and the issue
of teacher hiring. Senators have identified three areas that are in tension
within the framework of Term 17.
With regard to the concept of neighbourhood schools versus single denominational
or unidenominational schools, that is clearly an area that is in tension
because both are provided for within the wording of the term. With regard to
teacher hiring, I think you have identified another area that is in tension
within the term because, for single denominational schools, you would obviously
expect to see preferential treatment to certain groups of teachers whereas
others may not have access to employment in that particular facility. With
regard to minority rights versus operating collectively, that is obviously
another area that is in tension within the wording of the term.
It is important to note that in preparation for these presentations the various
church leaders in integration opted to state their preferred position. They
have taken these matters under consideration for decades. Some of the preferred
positions they are stating this morning were their preferred positions in 1969
when they formed the integrated system. I think it is quite legitimate for them
to put forward their preferred position and to identify clearly what their
people are saying.
However, Senator Ottenheimer, I believe that the past quarter century has
demonstrated a significant willingness on the part of all the church leaders in
integration to cooperate wherever possible with all right holders in the
province and, indeed, with non-right holders. As the integrated system now
exists, we have afforded non-right holders the opportunity to serve as trustees
on our school boards. Even though they do not have a constitutional right to do
that we have afforded that to them. This demonstrates that they are willing to
cooperate and will continue to do so in the future in order that all right
holders may maximize their educational opportunities under the term, whatever
its ultimate wording.
As a matter of interest, in the province today we have approximately 40 schools
whose jurisdiction is shared across all right holders, the right holders in
integration together with the Roman Catholics and the Pentecostals.
Senator Ottenheimer: Are you referring to the joint service schools?
Mr. Norman: These are the joint service schools where that is required to offer
quality education which is paramount. Where that is required we have
endeavoured to cooperate to the fullest. I do not have the specifics on what
future cooperative endeavours may entail, but the church leaders in integration
can certainly commit to that kind of cooperation and respect for the existence
of other right holders.
Senator Beaudoin: My question is on clause (b) of Term 17. The introductory
clause states, "Subject to provincial legislation". In every other
constitutional document there is no such sweeping clause. In terms of Quebec
and Ontario, section 93 protects group rights. Section 22 of the Manitoba Act
does the same thing, although some words are added. Section 17 of the
Saskatchewan and Alberta acts are to the same effect. The purpose of this
resolution is to protect denominational rights. I do not use the expression "individual
rights" because that does not apply in this case. Section 29 of the
Charter is clear; the term "minority rights" is used, but it is a
However, one thing that has been interpreted by the Privy Council and the
Supreme Court is denominational rights. Of course, denominational rights are
enshrined in the Constitution, just as they are enshrined in the Terms of Union
of Newfoundland and Labrador with Canada. That clause causes me some concern
because if the protection of denominational rights in the core of the
Constitution is subject to provincial legislation, then what does it mean? It
means that as a result of a simple statute the legislature of the province may
set aside certain rights or it may, to a great extent, modify the situation for
denominational schools. Of course, we will be discussing that issue for a whole
day with some lawyers here. However, I would like to have your reaction.
Denominational rights are enshrined in the Constitution. Is there not the
danger that the legislature of this province will be given sweeping powers that
no other legislature in this country has in respect of denominational rights?
Mr. Norman: As they made their presentations, the various church leaders made
indirect reference to this particular section. Although he did not identify the
phrase "Subject to provincial legislation", you will recall
Lieutenant-Colonel Moore's testimony with regard to religious education in
particular had to do with his concern that either through provincial legislation
or some other form of government regulation there may be impositions made on
the area of religious education which would make it virtually impossible for
the churches in integration to accomplish what they want to accomplish in that
particular area of programming. There was real concern, therefore, especially as
it relates to the case of the integrated system and our religious education
The church leaders in integration have not expressed the same degree of concern
over administrative matters. Indeed, they have not expressed the same degree of
concern over certain governance matters. However, as it relates particularly to
religious education and programming, which is their major thrust, that was the
tenet running through their presentations. They felt that, indeed, there could
be interference as a result of provincial legislation which would impact
negatively on their thrust in religious education.
You made reference to the section of the Charter which protects denominational
schools, senator. I believe your reference might have been to jurisprudence
which has been established across the country in terms of traditional
denominational schools. We are not quite clear at this point just exactly how
the courts will treat the denominational schools as they are identified in the
wording of Term 17 as it is before us today. Within this term there are two
types of denominational schools which do not exist in the country today. We
refer to them as "A" schools and "B" schools because of the
relevant sections which establish them. However, in actual fact, it may be that
an individual who, for argument's sake, may not want to have the Lord's Prayer
said at a school assembly could bring a challenge under the Charter of Rights
and Freedoms. Indeed, our concern is that if the school is an
interdenominational school, and a school which that particular student has the
right to attend, some court in the future may restrict the right of the people
in integration to say the Lord's Prayer at a school assembly because it may
interfere with the right of an individual who brings forward a challenge under
the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. We are therefore very concerned about that
At this stage, we are not confident that we have the degree of protection under
that relevant section of the Charter to which you referred, protection which we
would need to ensure the kind of religious education programming that we want
to carry out.
Senator Beaudoin: I see how you may arrive at that conclusion. However, I am not
too worried about it because we have the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. There
have been already 300 decisions on this issue. The Supreme Court is doing its
As far as the previous jurisprudence on denominational rights is concerned, if
there is an amendment, it is an amendment to the Constitution. Therefore, to
that extent, the previous jurisprudence is no longer material, if it is changed
as a result. If it were only a question of administrative rights, I would not
worry at all. We have to face new circumstances. I do not see any problem there.
However, if the legislature is given the power to change by simple statute
something that is connected with publicly funded denominational schools, then
it is being given a great power. You say they will not do this, they will not
do that, but this is the Constitution about which we are speaking. Perhaps
nothing will happen. However, the fact remains that, to a certain extent, a
provincial legislature may change, by simple statute, some denominational
rights. I do not say more than that, but I say all that.
Mr. Sellars: I find it interesting that we were talking about rights. Perhaps in
doing so the one group of people who we ought to keep in mind is the students
and their rights. I have pointed out that under the present system and, with
the revision if it is accepted, our concern is that we would have Roman
Catholic, Pentecostal and integrated schools, but that the United Church,
Anglicans, Presbyterians, Salvationists and others would be free to establish
their own schools. It must be admitted that we would need a wild imagination to
imagine what would happen if all these denominations were to own and operate
their own schools. What about the students? We have a responsibility to provide
quality education, something which would not be possible under these
circumstances. It just would not exist.
What I am suggesting is that we have to consider our students. I have worked in
the education system for several years as a program coordinator. I know what is
happening in that area. I know how disadvantaged our students are because of
the present system. I suggest that the bottom line in all of this has to be
what is best for the students of this province.
Senator Pearson: I have three quite separate questions. First, I want to
congratulate Bishop Harvey for the forthrightness of his presentation. I think
it summed up for many of us some of the issues we are dealing with in respect
of Term 17 and the problems that we see with it. I am not sure we know how to
resolve them, but his presentation was extremely helpful. I also liked the
challenge you threw out when you asked: What is a minority?
In every presentation there has been mention made of Christian values. In
essence, you are saying that Christians are in the majority. Thus, there is a
sense of whether or not Christian values are different among the different
groups or whether they are all the same. That is something to which I do not
require an answer.
My question has to do with the nature of religious education. Reverend Sellars,
in the integrated schools you have evolved a program in which you have all come
together. You have a religious education program that represents all of you. Is
Mr. Sellars: Yes. We have what we refer to as a non- confessional religious
education program. We feel quite confident in saying that students of all
denominations can be part of our education program. There is no problem with
Senator Pearson: My next question has to do with the rights of students. I have
quite a specific question that emerged from the discussion we had last night
with students who appeared before us. I asked one of the students afterwards
what would happen in one of the unidenominational schools if a student who was
14 or 15 decided he or she did not want to continue in that particular school. I
asked, "Is there an age of consent in this regard?" It was explained
to me that if a student did not want to take part in the religious education,
then he had to have a letter from his parents. Thus, it was a matter of
parental control until the end of his school year. If he did not receive a
letter from his parents, then he would be obliged to take the Christian
Is there an age at which a student can say, without parental permission, "I
do not want to go to that school any more because I do not feel comfortable
with those beliefs"?
Mr. Sellars: The policy being followed in most of the integrated schools in the
province is that a student does not have to take religious education. We refer
to it as religious education and not Christian education. Most boards require
that parental consent be given to a student in order to opt out of a religious
education program. That can be worked out. I have never seen a problem arise in
that regard. We have had many, many situations in which students have decided
for different reasons that they did not want to be part of the religious
education program. As I said, that has never posed any great difficulty.
The administration of the school would sit and work that through with the
student and, if necessary, with the parents because there are legitimate
reasons. A person may want to do a science program or they may just not have an
interest in religious education. A case can be presented for that within the
Senator Pearson: Does anyone else want to reply to the question on students'
Mr. Norman: Senator, in this province the Schools Act governs that particular
matter of choice. The wording of the legislation is such that it gives control
to the parent. The legislation deals with parental choice for the student.
Senator Pearson: Does that go up to the age of 18?
Mr. Norman: The legislation does not make any reference to age. However, as
Reverend Sellars has indicated, this has not presented a problem that we are
aware of in that we have not had any serious divergence of opinion on the part
of students and parents as to that matter. Everything is working in harmony at
Senator Cogger: Madam Chair, I have a question for each of the members of the
panel, save for Reverend Harvey. Please do not be offended, sir. I do not have
a question for you inasmuch as your brief is so forthright and you state on
page 4 your hope that this resolution be passed.
My first question is for Mr. Carmichael. One section of your brief recites a
summary of the legal concerns of the churches in integration with respect to
the proposed revision to Term 17. I can read and understand your concerns. Are
they such that you would like to see the resolution defeated or amended? If you
were a senator, how would your concerns translate? What would you do with the
resolution, amend it or vote for or against it?
Mr. Carmichael: Council per se has not taken a position on that question because
we consider that a class issue. We would like the classes to comment on it. We
have not taken a specific position; we have expressed a concern.
Senator Cogger: In other words, you do not wish to expand, I take it. You wish
to raise your legal concerns with us, make us aware of your concerns but at
this point you will not offer us further guidance as to how you feel we should
Mr. Carmichael: We defer to the classes. We consider this a class rights issue
rather than a council issue per se.
Senator Cogger: I turn now to Reverend Wishart. In your presentation we read
that your lawyers have advised you that a revised Term 17 may put religious
education programs in Christian schools at risk of challenge to the courts.
Despite this reservation, you are anxious to see education reform proceed.
Would you care to elaborate? Does that translate into support for an amendment
to the amendment to Term 17?
Mr. Wishart: If you had the luxury to amend it, senator, I would love to see the
proposed Term 17 stated in different terms. I would be delighted to see this
term amended; however, I suspect you do not have that luxury.
Senator Cogger: We do. I take it, then, that your first option would be an
amendment to the amendment. Is that right?
Mr. Wishart: Yes.
Senator Cogger: And failing the amendment?
Mr. Wishart: When I had my own opportunity and had to go to the poll, I voted
against it; but my advice would be to hold your nose and vote for it.
Senator Cogger: At least that has the benefit of being very clear. Thank you.
Lieutenant-Colonel Moore, you state you have serious concerns with the precise
wording of the proposed Term 17. You further state that under the amendment,
religious education as we know it would no longer exist and that you have legal
opinions to the effect that there would be no clear guarantee that religious
education programming as we now have it would be possible. In view of those
comments, may I ask you what would be your choice? Do you want to see us defeat,
amend, change or support the amendment?
Lieutenant-Colonel Moore: At the moment, religious education in our schools is
funded. It is scheduled into the schedule of classes and given its proper
place. According to our legal opinion, there is a possibility that this could
be removed. We will be given the privilege of having religious education but,
in essence, it might not be funded or scheduled. We would have to find our own
spot in which to undertake religious education with our own students, whether
it is during a lunch period, after school or whenever it might be. With the
system on bussing that we have today and with children going home immediately
after school, any religious instruction in schools after school would all but
be ruled out.
In October or December of 1995 the four leaders in integration wrote to Premier
Wells asking that the proposed Term 17 be adjusted to include some things that
we thought would cover us when this was brought to the public. I am not sure if
members of the committee have that letter or not.
The Chair: To my knowledge, Lieutenant-Colonel, we do not. If you could provide
us with a copy, it would be useful.
Lieutenant-Colonel Moore: I think it has been brought for the senators today.
There were paragraphs in the letter pertaining to the different areas that would
have protected us as far as keeping religious education in the place it is
today and not leaving it to the whims of the legislature to keep it or remove
it. I would like to see some change in the wording so that there would be some
protection in terms of religious education.
Senator Cogger: I take it, Madam Chair, we will be given copies of that letter.
In other words, your number one option would be an amended situation. Thank you.
Reverend Sellars, you state in your brief that as a denomination you have some
problems with the wording of the revised Term 17. You go on to say this will
make the system even more confusing and complex than it is at present. You then
state that you believe that the revision to Term 17 does not go far enough. You
encourage government to move quickly to implement such reforms.
Can you tell me how this translates? You seem to feel that Term 17 will make the
current situation more confusing and complex. Would you recommend that we amend
Term 17, that we vote it down or that we support it?
Mr. Sellars: We have to realize the fact that on September 5, 1995, the people
of this province voted in a referendum. As a denomination, we have deep respect
for our democratic system. We recognize the rights of people to vote, and our
people voted. As a denomination, for many years, we have suggested strongly
that we have a one-church school system, which is what we would prefer.
Unfortunately, the revised Term 17 will not give us that. However, we will
continue to work toward that because that is what we believe in. We believe
that is what is best for this province and for our students.
Having said that, and having raised the concerns that I just mentioned, we
support reform. We suggest strongly that government move forward with reform.
Along with the statement that Bishop Harvey has made, we would not do anything
to take away from or to slow down reform. We want to see this happen.
Senator Rompkey: Madam Chair, before we leave Senator Cogger's question, may I
have something clarified? In my reading of the answers, all of the witnesses,
with the exception of David Carmichael who deferred to the leaders of the
denominations, encourage the passage of the resolution calling for the adoption
of the new Term 17. That is my understanding of their answers.
Senator Cogger: I think we should let the record speak for itself. Some have
said, "Hold your nose and vote for it," while other have said, "My
first option is an amendment".
Senator Rompkey: There were differences because human beings are different; but
I drew a consensus.
The Chair: I think all senators will draw a consensus from what was heard.
Senator Kinsella: I am interested in exploring with the four faith communities
that are represented here their notion of democracy. It has been referred to a
couple of times by the witnesses. For example, on page 3, you have made
reference to it. Within your respective ecclesiastical law, are there some
instances when your church has to deal with issues that go to the foundation of
your faith community, whether it be in the synod, or whether it be with respect
to matters of discipline or whether it be in the amalgamation, Reverend
Wishart, as it was historically for the Presbyterian Church? For example, what
is ecclesiastical law within the Anglican Church in Canada with respect to some
matters that require more than a simple majority? Are there not some instances
in which church law requires an enriched or enhanced majority vote in synod?
Bishop Harvey: I preface my reply by saying I do not represent the most
democratic institution in Canada today. It is somewhat hierarchical in
structure. Decisions are made at three levels. They are the laity, the ordained
clergy and the bishop. In most diocese there is just one bishop, which some
people suggest gives him a veto and takes away democracy. When we are grappling
with things that really matter, the essential things, every effort is made to
diffuse it as much as to say we would want to get all the information possible,
including enlightened opinion at other levels, before it reaches the stage of
synod. In this way people who come to vote at the synod would know the
reflections of the entire constituency before they arrived.
Notwithstanding that, there are still some issues that might not be disposed of
in that particular manner. Ultimately, something could be decided upon which
would not necessarily be the wishes of the majority of the people but which
would have been assumed to have been the right decision to make at the time.
Although it may be contradictory to some things I said earlier, we do not always
feel that the majority right at the time would be the only considering factor.
Senator Kinsella: In the amalgamation of the churches that formed the
Presbyterian Church of Canada, what was the nature of the majority required at
Mr. Wishart: It would be a simple majority of the highest court of the church.
When the Presbyterian Church in Canada was formed, there were four synods in
the Canadas and two in the Atlantic provinces. A decision of that kind, of a
constitutional nature, must be passed by the general assembly or the synod but
it must also be approved by the presbyteries. There is a thing called a barrier
act, which means that on a substantial matter, it must be approved by a
majority of the local groups as well as by a majority of the national group.
However, in the end, it comes down to a vote, and the vote is taken in the
general assembly. As some of you may have read in the press, there was a very
serious issue decided by majority vote of the general assembly in June of this
year. In our system, that is the way things are decided.
Whether it is a strictly populist democratic vote is another matter, but there
is a democratic majority required at every level on these matters.
Senator Kinsella: Lieutenant-Colonel Moore, what is the situation in the
Lieutenant-Colonel Moore: I am also part of that hierarchy about which the
bishop spoke, and it is perhaps even a little more extreme than what the bishop
was saying. Here in Newfoundland, we have three divisional commanders, co-equal
in power and glory. However, there is a power above us, and I am not talking
about God himself but about our territorial headquarters in Toronto, which makes
many of the heavier decisions for us. We have authority to go so far as
divisional commanders here in the province, but most of the major decisions and
interactions come out of our headquarters in Toronto. If they cannot come from
there, they come from international headquarters, but most of the authority is
vested in our council territorial headquarters which assists us with the
decisions and gives us direction.
Senator Kinsella: Reverend Sellars, a controversy of some significance is the
ordination of gay ministers in the United Church. What is church law in the
United Church of Canada respecting the kind of consensus that must be built or
the level of decision?
Mr. Sellars: Within our denomination, we have a system that includes decision
making from a local level right through to the general council, which is the
highest court of our church. With regard to issues such as the one you just
mentioned, individual congregations would be provided with the issue and would
have the opportunity to discuss that, and they would have significant time to do
that. A vote would be taken, and that information would pass through to the
various levels, again to the highest court of our church, where the local
congregation along with the presbyteries and conferences would be represented
in making that final decision.
We believe that people who are associated with our denomination have the
opportunity for input into any decision. Whether they avail themselves of that
opportunity is their own decision, but the opportunity is there to do so.
Senator Kinsella: Is it not true that in many corporations or other institutions
in the secular field, when a change is being proposed which speaks directly to
the heart or the core of that constitution, a two-thirds majority or enriched
majority is often the norm? You testified about the importance within your
faith communities of consensus for a serious change which speaks to the dogma or
to the tradition of the faith community. Am I correct in my assessment that
ramming things through has not been your tradition or experience, and that the
rights which flow from the tradition or the canons of the respective churches
cannot be changed by a simple majority?
If this is your experience, can you understand the importance of the protection
of rights under the Constitution currently held by classes of persons in this
province? This is effectively a fundamental change that speaks to the heart and
core. If ramming things through and a simple majority are not your experience,
are consensus building and resolution really the only way to go in these
Bishop Harvey: I concur with the gist of what you are saying. However, I would
have to question the use of the term "ramming this through". We have
been debating this issue ad nauseam since the Royal Commission report came out
four years ago. It has been beaten to death. People are getting sick and tired
of it. They have expressed themselves.
It was passed by a very small majority in the referendum, by a larger majority
in the House of Assembly and by a larger majority again in the House of
Commons. Where do you draw the line? How much longer do you let all the other
recommendations in the Williams report lay on the shelf while we struggle about
who will be responsible for implementing it?
I fear that all we are doing is creating a smoke screen to avoid the inevitable
which needs to be done and should have been done yesterday.
Senator Kinsella: Would you not agree, my Lord, that a short debate in the House
of Commons was not appropriate? The debate on the ordination of women in the
Anglican Church has been going on for more than a few years. These are serious
and fundamental matters. In the order of time, as the Romans would say, time
must be tempered by time.
Bishop Harvey: I think that is unarguable. We are not trying to trivialize the
issue. The debate on the ordination of women was concluded in 1975,
incidentally, but not without much debate and soul searching, and with people
actually having to go elsewhere, as it were. There are other issues still
coming to the fore.
I will respond with a question: Just how much time is needed? How many more
processes do we have to put this through before we can settle down and try to
do some of the critical things which are being eclipsed by our stagnation on
this issue? That is not to trivialize the concern you expressed.
One of the other senators said that I had already declared myself in my brief,
and it is quite true. It was not without reservation and trepidation. However,
at the same time, from where I and my advisors sit, it is the only logical way
to proceed now. We must take the risk that is involved but hope to be able to
bring something good out of these flames and ashes.
Mr. Sellars: Senator, I have a problem with where I think your questions are
leading, because we are talking about democracy and our system of government in
this great country of ours. It seems to me that we are questioning that.
To go back to my earlier statement, when the people of this province voted last
September, it was quite clear that they voted for major change. Why the delay?
Almost immediately following that decision, some people started to question the
decision of our people, but the decision was made through our democratic
system. If we keep questioning that, what does it do to our system? Do we have
democracy or not? It is the vote of the majority of the people. I do not see
what the problem is. We have to move. That is what our people have said.
Senator Kinsella: This speaks to one of the issues which concerns us and which
has national public interest dimensions. The nature of the referendum that was
held and the significance of that referendum, although not constitutionally
required by section 43, has been part of the dynamic. You have attested to that
Senator MacDonald: Although Senator Cogger expressed himself in very quiet
tones, it was a primal scream for help which I share with him in asking for
your assistance. Some of us are very preoccupied. We are looking for any set of
circumstances in which a government is justified in expunging the rights of a
minority without the permission of that minority. To suggest to us as senators
that the Constitution of Canada and the rule of law and regional interests are
not our primary responsibilities, and to expect that we would abdicate our
responsibilities to a referendum is, I suggest to you, not acceptable. We are
looking for help, as Senator Cogger indicated in his question.
Have you an answer to that first question? Do you know of any circumstances that
would justify taking away the rights of a minority?
Bishop Harvey: Senator, that question assumes that rights will be taken away. I
am not convinced that that is the case. Twenty-seven years ago we exercised our
minority rights collectively and thereby improved the system. I do not think it
is right to presuppose that the proposed amendment to Term 17 will eradicate
those rights in the way suggested.
Senator MacDonald: You are probably aware that over the last few days I have
been putting the same question to witnesses. It was my hope, probably shared by
others, that there was some way for the churches of Newfoundland and the
educators to reform the system. We agree that every system, including those in
Newfoundland, needs reform, and we are hopeful that it could be done by
agreement without the necessity of this constitutional amendment which so
bothers us. We were thinking that men of God could put a little water in their
wine and return to the table to see whether anything could be resolved.
Who represented the Integrated Educational Council at the meetings with Mr.
Grimes? You are pointing at Mr. Norman.
In his press release of April 18, Mr. Grimes said that a framework agreement had
been established for the setting up of 10 interim school boards and a
provincial construction board. It was an apparently successful negotiation, but
apparently not a big deal. There was still a long way to go.
He also said that the agreement resulted from extensive meetings between
department officials and denominational education councils. Which were the
other education councils?
Bishop Harvey: They spoke with you yesterday.
Senator MacDonald: The Roman Catholic Church and the Pentecostals?
Mr. Norman: That is correct.
Senator MacDonald: It says that meetings began in late March and ran to April
18. They must have been pretty extensive. I gather from this that they were
probably held daily.
There were 15 points accompanying his press release yet to be looked at. They
are shown on pages 2 and 3 of his release. However, you cut off further
negotiations on or about early June. There were no further meetings. It
apparently came as a surprise to the witnesses who appeared yesterday that your
position, which you have expressed so well and straightforwardly today, was not
mentioned at those meetings.
Mr. Norman: Senator, could you clarify your question a little for us, please?
Senator MacDonald: Did you discuss in a spirit of good faith with the Catholics
and the Pentecostals those things which divided you?
Mr. Norman: I would answer in the affirmative, senator, to that question. You
must realize that that particular process had very limited terms of reference.
The terms of reference given that process by the minister were to develop a
framework for the establishment of 10 interdenominational school boards; to
re-organize the administration of primary, elementary and secondary education in
the province so as to improve the quality of programs available to students and
to maximize cost efficiencies in administration, school bussing and program
delivery; and to establish a provincial school construction board.
The committee, made up of six persons, one from each of the three councils and
three people from the Department of Education, arrived at a framework for the
consolidation to 10 school boards and also for the establishment of a school
construction board. That committee made a report to the minister which he took
through the various government decision-making processes and on to cabinet. As
well, we reported to our respective church leaders and council members.
It is my understanding that the government is proceeding with work on the
establishment of 10 interdenominational school boards. As a matter of fact,
there is a transition team in place which is meeting again this Friday to
continue that process of moving toward 10 interdenominational school boards.
All of the four leaders here of the churches in integration reiterated in their
press releases their support for the establishment of 10 interdenominational
school boards as well as reiterating their support for the establishment of a
school construction board. I think the working committee fulfilled its terms of
The minister went on to indicate that there were substantial areas yet to be
determined, such as the development of provincial parameters to govern school
closures, consolidations and new construction, and a process for designating
whether schools will be interdenominational or unidenominational. There is
still work to be done. It is my understanding that that work will continue in
the coming school year.
I know that the minister is speaking to you tomorrow and he can certainly speak
to this, but I understand that he has agreed to a provincial consultation
process this fall to allow people of the province to have input into the
process of developing parameters for school closures. He is also willing to
establish a process whereby the parents will have a voice in determining whether
their school will be a uni school or an interdenominational school.
I believe that the process went as far as it was required by the specific terms
of reference. However, information disseminated about this particular framework
agreement did stir up quite a controversy among the general public and, perhaps
as a result of that controversy, no further dialogue has been scheduled, as far
as I am aware of.
Senator MacDonald: The Catholic Education Council told us yesterday that it
continues to support the framework agreement and stands ready to enter into
further discussions in an effort to resolve all outstanding issues. However, no
one has called a meeting and no one has taken the initiative. Whether the
meeting will take place soon, later, or whenever, is up in the air. Those of us
who know that Newfoundlanders usually work out their differences without
extreme action find that curious.
Mr. Norman: This whole process was initiated by the Minister of Education. I
assume that the responsibility remains with the minister to determine whether
and when this process should continue. We did not take the initiative in this
regard and we believe that that responsibility lies with the minister.
Bishop Harvey: Two years ago, prior to the referendum, all the church leaders in
education went to the government with a proposal. We all had to add water to
our wine to do that. I am not sure how acceptable that would have been to all
the constituencies, but we did do that. It is no secret that it was rejected
outright, and very quickly as well.
Senator MacDonald: By the government?
Bishop Harvey: By the premier, at any rate.
Senator MacDonald: That does not surprise me. I have a great deal more respect
for men of God than I do for politicians.
I have a statement. You are probably going into Term 17 not knowing what the
future holds; it is uncharted waters, and you withdrew from a meeting which had
the hope --
Bishop Harvey: We did not.
Mr. Sellars: I think, senator, that --
Senator MacDonald: You put out the notice on June 2.
Senator Rompkey: There is an assumption that the framework agreement is in lieu
of Term 17, and it is not, as I understand it.
Senator MacDonald: It could be.
Senator Rompkey: My understanding is that it is not in lieu of Term 17.
The Chair: That is something on which we should have some serious discussions.
There is a question which needs to be answered. The impression we were given
yesterday was that the integrated schools walked away from the framework
agreement. I think we need to hear from the integrated schools as to whether
that is the case.
Mr. Norman: Senator, the Integrated Education Council is the body through which
the four churches in integration exercise their rights in education. As
executive director I can clearly state that I had received no direction from
the church leaders in integration to walk away from any agreement. I have
received no direction from the church leaders in integration to renege on
attendance at any meetings. I will allow them to speak for themselves on this,
but I have received no direction from them to do anything contrary to the
thrust of the framework agreement as it relates to the 10 interdenominational
boards and as it relates to the school construction board.
Senator MacDonald: Madam Chair, on a point of order, would Mr. Grimes say in
writing, as he did on June 5, that three years of intense discussions between
representatives of the government and the denominations have proved futile?
Bishop Harvey: With respect, Mr. Grimes will be here tomorrow, and I think he
should be asked that question.
Senator MacDonald: I am dying to ask him.
Bishop Harvey: It is not substantiated by the evidence as I see it.
I wish to remark upon the careless use of the word "agreement". It was
never an agreement. The premier of the province himself said that. It was meant
to be a working paper. It was when the Minister of Education and others tried
to treat it as an agreement and a fait accompli instead of a good discussion
paper from which we could probably have come up with something positive that it
met its untimely end as a supposed agreement.
I am still hopeful that some of what was in that paper can be a good working
base as we try to rebuild this. We are still very much on the surface of this
discussion. When it is brought to the local level and the die is finally cast
about what must be done with the school system we will learn just how much
reconciliation we will need.
Senator Lewis: I gather, then, that this so-called framework agreement was not
to be regarded as a substitute for the proposed amendment to Term 17.
Bishop Harvey: We did not see the agreement as anything but a working paper. The
government insisted that neither it nor groups which were resisting the change
would necessarily have to change their stance because of this so-called
agreement. That was made very clear.
Mr. Sellars: Not only do we need clarification about the agreement, we also have
to be very careful when talking about churches. Sometimes when we hear the word
"churches" and we assume that it means all churches, and that is not
so. Those of us in the integrated system have been very concerned about that.
Many comments have been made about what "the churches" have said and
those remarks have been attributed to all the churches. In many cases, that is
Senator Jessiman: Reverend Harvey, I note that in your statement you say it is
very unfortunate that this issue ever had to be referred to the Parliament of
Canada. I would prefer if that read that it is very unfortunate that this issue
ever was referred, but perhaps that means the same thing.
I take it from that and from what you have said here now that if all the
churches that met at the request of the government to try to work out some very
difficult problems which you and the government had, you could have completed
It was explained yesterday, and Premier Tobin said in his letter, that this was
not really an agreement because there were a number of things still to be
agreed upon. However, you and others have said that you all agreed to reduce
the number of school boards from 27 to 10. You have also all agreed that a
provincial school construction board should be set up.
We heard from the Pentecostals and the Roman Catholics who said they agreed to
this. The premier said in his letter that this had not been agreed upon.
Senator Rompkey said that certain people agreed to it, but he did not know
whether you had. I am asking you now.
We have the substance of provincial parameters governing, first, school
closures; second, consolidations; and third, new construction. The Roman
Catholics and Pentecostals said to us that was agreed as far as they were
concerned, and I think they implied that you agreed with it as well. Senator
Rompkey said we should ask you, so I am now asking you.
As I understand it, there were four parties: the integrated group, the Roman
Catholic Church, the Pentecostals, and the government. I am told by two of
those parties that those matters which the premier said had not been agreed to
and still had to be settled with the government, had been agreed to. Are you
saying that you have not yet come to agree on school closures, consolidations,
or new construction, and the parameters therefor?
Mr. Norman: Senator, the confusion around that may exist because we did not
actually get into an elaboration of parameters but rather we agreed on what
parameters would be included. In that particular agreement, we said that the
parameters surrounding school closures, consolidations, et cetera, would
include but not be limited to a clear definition of an isolated school, teacher
allocations to school districts, transportation efficiencies, that each school
must be able to offer a basic minimum education program, and population
We identified the factors that should be included as parameters. However, we did
not come up with the definition of an isolated school or what would actually be
the transportation efficiency. This is why this is identified as a working
paper or a framework. The actual agreement has yet to be arrived at.
Senator Jessiman: I understand. Was there any disagreement among yourselves, the
Pentecostals and the Roman Catholic Church in respect of those matters?
Mr. Norman: No, there was no disagreement.
Senator Jessiman: You have gone into details. I am only talking generalities,
because that was what the premier said. The others have said, and I think you
have confirmed, that at least on the parameters on school closures,
consolidation and new construction, among the churches at least there was
Mr. Norman: There was agreement on the factors that should be included.
Senator MacDonald: In the working paper.
Mr. Norman: Yes.
Senator Jessiman: Was there any disagreement with respect to those matters as
far as the integrated church is concerned with the Roman Catholics and/or the
Mr. Norman: There was no disagreement on the factors that should be included.
However, we could not say what ultimately the details would be because that
would be left to further dialogue.
Senator Jessiman: So there was agreement among yourselves.
There are two other factors that seem to be at odds as well, and I would like
you to tell me to whether you have a means by which this can be determined. The
first is the process to determine parental preference for the designation of
schools. That seems to me to be a very easy thing. You ask the parents what
school they want their children to attend. Some people said, "Well, someone
may say they want to go to one school today, but then they will change their
Surely it should not be difficult for the churches to work out a process to
determine the parental preference for the designation of schools, or is that
Mr. Norman: There are questions around that, senator, which could be
controversial. For example, since we are talking about a matter of right
holders, should all right holders have an opportunity to participate in that
Senator Jessiman: What do you mean by a "right holder"?
Mr. Norman: I am just identifying some of the difficulties.
Senator Jessiman: What is a "right holder"?
Mr. Norman: If the right to a particular school is held by a denomination, for
argument's sake, should only the parents of children in the school have the
right to express the designation of the school, or should all taxpayers have
the right, or should all people of that denomination have the right? There were
significant questions around that which we were trying to work out, but we did
not arrive at a resolution of the details.
Senator Jessiman: Were there disagreements among yourselves, the Roman Catholics
and the Pentecostals? Were there disagreements, or do you all have the same
Mr. Norman: I think the same problems exist.
Another issue was what majority of the people was required to determine the
status of a school. Should it be a simple majority? Should it be two-thirds?
Earlier government documents stated 90 per cent. There were things that we had
not concluded. We had not finalized the agreement.
Senator Jessiman: It was not the reason for breaking up further discussion among
yourselves, the Roman Catholics and the Pentecostals.
Senator Rompkey: He testified it was not broken up.
Senator Jessiman: Yes. This is something that could still be worked out. Have
you any reason to believe that you, the Roman Catholics and the Pentecostals
cannot agree on that matter?
Mr. Norman: Senator, the original plan for this process was that the schools
would retain their existing designation for the coming school year and any
change of status would be for the school year beginning in September, 1997. We
wanted to have the summer and at least part of the next school year to continue
dialogue on these issues and hopefully arrive at some resolution. Ultimately, I
would not see this as a stumbling block. I think we can arrive at consensus on
what processes should be followed.
Senator Jessiman: The last point is designation of schools as unidenominational
or interdenominational. Is there a problem among yourselves, the Roman
Catholics and the Pentecostals on that? Do you think you can agree on that?
Mr. Norman: I believe it was the government's intention that that designation
would be left to parental decision. It was a matter of coming up with a process
whereby the parents would make that determination.
Senator Jessiman: Did you have any disagreement on that with the government, the
Roman Catholics or the Pentecostals?
Mr. Norman: It was the direction of the integrated church leaders that we would
not object to parental choice.
Senator Jessiman: Have the Roman Catholics or Pentecostals said anything to make
you believe they would disagree with that?
Mr. Norman: No, senator. I recall both the Pentecostal executive director and
the Roman Catholic executive director supporting the concept of parental
choice. It was a matter of what process would be put in place, and the details
would have to be worked out.
Mr. Wishart: There is a problem in this to which I alluded earlier. In a way, it
divides the integrated group, and we are not entirely happy with it. How do you
ask people to designate their school as an integrated school or an
interdenominational school? If your children were involved, which would you
vote for and how would you know what the difference was? I think that this
designation would provide our parents with a Hobson's choice. Do you want an "A"
school or a "B" school? The people would not know the difference.
This business of parental choice and designation is the gun pointed at the head
of the integrated system to break it up.
Senator Anderson: I was very interested to hear references from Reverend Sellars
and Senator Pearson to the absolute importance of the students. All of us here
should be primarily concerned in all our discussions with what is best for all
the children of Newfoundland, and that is the provision of the highest quality
education for all students in this province.
I was concerned with Reverend Wishart's presentation with reference to
integration. On page 2 he said:
... in 1969 the Presbyterians joined integration, the combining of the
educational efforts of the Anglican and the United Churches and the Salvation
Army. We have continued this association, and have sought to enlarge it. The
Moravian Church has been included in Integrated group in recent years, and we
regret that the action of the government will prevent this in the future.
Why is this so? It seems to me to be a retrograde step. We are interested in all
the children of Newfoundland. What about these Moravian children?
Mr. Wishart: We raised this question with Premier Wells at a meeting just a year
ago. We were very concerned. We raised with him the matter of the Moravian
Church. He assured us that the Moravian Church and our association with it
would be continued.
Therefore, we were astonished when the actual term which went to the referendum
and then to the legislature and the Parliament of Canada, which came out two
weeks after our meeting, said that the group of classes that formed one
integrated school system by agreement in 1969 may exercise the same rights
under this term as a single class, which means only those who came together in
The Moravians were not part of that group. The exclusion of the Moravians at
that point would be not simply an administrative matter and something that is
written only into the regulations of Newfoundland; it would be written into the
Constitution of Canada.
We had no anticipation that integration would be restricted to those who came
together in 1969. That was never our intention. In fact, we specifically raised
the issue with Premier Wells in July, 1995. Then this came out two weeks later.
Senator Rompkey will tell you that I wrote to him right away. I also wrote to
the premier and to Mr. Roberts. I received a response from Mr. Roberts saying
that the Moravians were not recognized by Newfoundland legislation at the time
of Confederation in 1949. Everyone knows that in 1949 the Government of
Newfoundland which existed in St. John's did not even know where Labrador was,
let alone that the Moravians were there. The fact that they were not recognized
in the legislation in 1949 is no reason why they should not be recognized now.
I do not understand why, when this term was drafted by the provincial government
just one year ago, they included the reference to 1969. Why can we not
integrate others? The difficulty is that if you pass this, it will be in the
Constitution until we have a constitutional amendment.
Senator Lewis: I would like to have a discussion on the supposed framework
agreement, and also I was want to speak about the apparent lack of faith which
our society has in the democratic system. There seems to be a feeling that it
does not work or that people are being left out. That has already been alluded
to and I should like to have further discussion on that.
The main topic I should like to raise is that I have been asked in the last few
months by senators from outside Newfoundland, "What is the real problem?"
They all suspect that there is something behind this problem. What is the real
issue behind this problem about education in Newfoundland?
I noticed that Mr. Carmichael mentioned that topic in his brief, and I think
other members of the panel did as well. Mr. Carmichael says that this whole
issue revolves around a struggle for control of the education system in this
Could you elaborate on what you believe is really the problem?
Mr. Carmichael: We are talking about control at the governance level. Reverend
Harvey alluded to the fact that several years ago we put forth an agreement. I
was at that time and still am the designated representative for the
Presbyterian group. I wear two hats.
The problem was administration and duplication of services at the board level.
We felt that it was impossible to implement in an efficient manner when the CEO
or superintendent was merely a rubber stamp.
People were arguing about rights. One specific concern, which we still have, is
the hiring and firing of teachers, which would perhaps put a veto on the work
at the board level. These are the kinds of issues I was alluding to; power
struggles with regard to who is in charge of what in a specific school at board
level and so on. This is my area of concern.
Perhaps Mr. Norman or the others would like to elaborate further.
Senator Lewis: When you say "struggle", are you alluding to one group
wresting power from another?
Mr. Norman: Senator, in the early days of this debate we had a significant
number of recommendations from the Royal Commission and only about 10 per cent
of them dealt directly with the matter of governance. However, today we are
primarily focused on the governance issue, leaving 80 per cent of the
recommendations of the Royal Commission, many of which are significant for the
improvement of the quality of education in this province, sitting on the shelf,
having perhaps been explored to a certain degree but having not been
The president of the council is correct when he says that the emphasis in all of
this has focused on the governance issue or who controls what in terms of
structures and mandate. That is a sad reflection on the four years of debate we
have had since the Royal Commission report was released. The president is
drawing attention to the fact that there are many other significant issues that
we should be getting on with. You heard the urgency in some of the
representations from some of the other church leaders.
Mr. Carmichael: I agree with Senator Anderson. The point in this whole issue is
that the students are the losers. Having been a classroom teacher, a program
coordinator and a system superintendent for 30 years in total, I can see that
the students are the losers while we argue over who is in charge at the board
The Chair: I wish to thank all of the panellists. You have been very helpful in
giving us a better understanding, not only of the integrated school system but
also of your position on Term 17. For that we thank you very much.
Honourable senators, the next witnesses are representatives of the Fédération
des parents francophones de Terre-Neuve et du Labrador. With us today are
Johanne Lacelle, the vice-president, and Richard Charron, the past president.
Ms Johanne Lacelle, Vice-President, Fédération des parents
francophones de Terre-Neuve et du Labrador: La Fédération des
parents francophones de Terre-Neuve et du Labrador is the provincial
organization representing the interests of francophone parents and children in
matters of education. It consists of six parent committees from St John's, Cap
St-Georges, Grand'Terre, L'Anse-à-Canards, Labrador City and Goose Bay.
La Fédération des parents demands French education rights, and
informs parents of such rights. It promotes the French fact and French-language
schools. In cooperation with government authorities, it organizes
extracurricular francization programs, including after-school services,
Saturday school and activity camps.
We appear here today to share with you our concern about the amendment to Term
17 of the Terms of Union of Newfoundland with Canada.
The provincial government is seeking to have this amendment to the Constitution
passed so as to introduce new school legislation which would limit the powers
of religious authorities in the province's education system and would allow the
reduction of the present number of school boards from 27 to 10.
The current Schools Act in Newfoundland and Labrador does not contain any
provision for the governance of francophone schools by francophones. This
governance right is granted to us by section 23 of the Canadian Charter of
Rights and Freedoms, but it is implemented under provisions contained in
provincial school legislation.
Francophones in Newfoundland and Labrador do not have a position on the issue of
making schools non-denominational. We would, however, have liked it if the
amendment to the Constitution sought by the Government of Newfoundland and
Labrador reaffirmed the right to school governance granted to francophones
under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This would have indicated to the
province's francophone population that the government intended to include
provisions to this effect in its new school legislation. We even requested that
the federal government resolution introducing the amendment proposed by the
Newfoundland House of Assembly be amended so as to refer to section 23 of the
Charter. Unfortunately, the resolution was not amended accordingly.
We therefore wish to take this opportunity to draw the attention of Canada's
senators and the Canadian public to this shortcoming in the amendment and in
the Schools Act. Francophones in Newfoundland and Labrador have watched 14
long, hard years go by since the passing of section 23 of the Charter of Rights
and Freedoms without the Newfoundland government ever taking the necessary
action to enable francophones to govern their own schools.
At present, there are 325 children enrolled in the French-as-a-first-language
school program in Newfoundland and Labrador, in four regions. It seems there
are currently between 300 and 600 more children who could participate in this
program, but who must still be recruited.
In 1984, the province granted our communities the right to set up francophone
schools and programs in accordance with the rights provided for by section 23
of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. As mentioned above, however,
the province's francophones are still demanding the right to govern their
schools, which is also included in the Charter, according to the Mahé
decision given in 1990.
At present, three different school boards are responsible for the five schools
that teach French as a first language in the province. With the creation of
mega-school boards, further to the reform, French-as-a-first-language programs
will be threatened, unless they are transferred to the jurisdiction of a
francophone provincial school board. As may be imagined, the specific needs of
these French-as-a-first-language programs probably do not figure among the top
priorities of those who will administer the ten new anglophone school boards.
School governance notably includes the right to exercise control over the
operating budget provided for French education and educational institutions;
the appointment and management of the people responsible for administering such
education; the recruitment and hiring of teachers and administrative staff in
schools; the development of school programs; the conclusion of agreements for
teaching and providing services to students.
La Fédération des parents francophones de Terre-Neuve et du
Labrador is demanding the creation of local committees and a provincial school
board that can administer schools in accordance with the criteria mentioned
above. The provincial school board will ensure such things as cooperation
between the various francophone regions of the province, and the sharing of
information and resources. This governance model for francophone education came
highly recommended in the Norman departmental report of 1993.
Securing school governance is a matter of survival for this province's
francophones. They feel they are the ones best suited to make the necessary
choices to ensure the future and development of francophone culture in
Newfoundland and Labrador.
Francophones need to govern the francophone school system so as to make sure
schools fulfil their socialization role and transmit the culture. Language is
not only a means of communication, but also a means of conveying a culture, of
enabling people to understand one another and their environment.
At present, among the four regions in which French is taught as a first
language, there is only one school which is all-francophone, where French as a
first language is the only program offered, where francophones are in charge of
their own institution. In the three other regions, French-as-a-first-language
programs are taught in integrated schools, that is, where the schoolrooms and
playground are shared with immersion and English-as-a-first-language programs.
Francophones thus have difficulty in creating a truly francophone space in the
largely anglophone environments in which they find themselves. If francophones
governed their own programs and schools, however, they could make sure the
situation was corrected. School governance by francophones would to some extent
prevent the assimilation of young francophones.
School governance for and by francophones is also concerned with improving the
quality of education for francophones. At present, there are not very many
specialists hired to meet the needs of francophone students. Music and physical
education classes, psychology, guidance and special help services are
practically non-existent in most French-as-a-first-language schools and
programs. Cultural activities, which take place on an ad hoc basis in the
schools, is far too limited. By pooling its resources through a francophone
provincial school board, the francophone community could change this. Instead
of being assimilated into anglophone society, francophones could be integrated
into it with the skills they need to contribute fully to society in
Newfoundland and Labrador.
By controlling their own schools and the resources related to them, francophones
could conduct an intensive campaign to recruit the 300 to 600 children who are
eligible but, for one reason or another, do not now attend francophone schools.
Finally, school governance is a community development activity whose benefits go
beyond the school as such. It means creating an institution in which
francophone adults can develop collectively in French by monitoring and
managing a social project.
On May 29, 1996, Mr. Tobin stated during a press conference, and I quote:
Once the constitutional amendment demanded by Newfoundland is passed, we can
provide for a school board to serve the francophone community in Newfoundland
The Minister of Education, Mr. Roger Grimes, recently confirmed these comments
during an interview with the media:
This would involve an amendment to the Schools Act, to enable the province to
create a province-wide francophone school board. We are going ahead with some
very minor changes to the Schools Act, so as to incorporate the ten
(anglophone) multi-denominational school boards, a single board for the
building of schools, and the francophone school board. In the fall, we will
undertake a range of broader issues.
In spite of these public statements, la Fédération des parents
francophones de Terre-Neuve et du Labrador still has not received a written
commitment to this effect from the provincial government. So finally we are
counting on the government to pass, without further delay, this legislation
providing for the creation of a francophone board so that we can start to
develop ways of implementing it right away.
Amendment of Term 17 of the Terms of Union of Newfoundland with Canada was
undertaken with the single aim of reforming the Schools Act. If, once it is
passed, the new school legislation remains unconstitutional because it does not
contain the necessary provisions for the creation of a francophone provincial
school board, the Canadian Constitution will have been treated with disdain and
Canadians may ask themselves about its viability. We can only hope that this
will not be the case, for both the Canadian public as a whole and the
francophones in our province.
We wish to thank the senators and the Standing Committee on Legal and
Constitutional Affairs for providing us with this opportunity to apprise them
of this situation, which has been of concern to us for a long time already.
Senator Beaudoin: I find your brief very interesting. What were you told when
you made your submissions concerning action further to section 23 of the
Charter? Were you given the pretext of the small number of francophones?
Ms Lacelle: Why the government has not granted us governance of the schools so
far? There are nevertheless five French-as-a-first-language schools in the
province. The government has decided that, yes, the numbers are high enough,
the young people are there. We want more. We want control of these schools.
Senator Beaudoin: You want to have an all-francophone school, governed by you,
in accordance with section 23 of the Charter?
Ms Lacelle: That's right.
Senator Beaudoin: You are located in three different places?
Ms Lacelle: There are three regions in which our five schools are now located.
We have two in Labrador, one in Labrador City and one in Goose Bay; two schools
on the West Coast, one in Grand'Terre and one in Cap St-Georges; there is a
preschool program in L'Anse-à-Canards, and there is a school in St
John's. We have three quite separate regions at present.
Senator Beaudoin: Are these French schools denominational?
Ms Lacelle: All our schools are under the Catholic school board.
Senator Beaudoin: They are all Catholic.
Ms Lacelle: Yes, back then, most of the families were Catholic. So we approached
the Catholic school boards.
Senator Beaudoin: You say in your brief that the Premier or the Minister of
Education took the attitude of wanting to settle the issue of Term 17 first and
then section 23 of the Charter. There is a sort of connection. They are not the
same rights. Language rights are protected by section 23 and denominational
rights are protected by Term 17. If you already belong to the Catholic
denomination, the government could go ahead with the reform or the issue of
French school governance by francophones, since you already all belong to the
same religious denomination.
Ms Lacelle: With regard to Term 17, the Fédération des parents has
not taken a position on the issue of making schools non-denominational. With
regard to school reform, we want to show that it was the right time for the
government to finally acknowledge the language rights of the francophone
population in Newfoundland and Labrador, and finally, by making this school
reform, to respect these rights. Since the adoption of the Canadian Charter of
Rights and Freedoms, with the contribution of the schools since 1984, section
23 has not been observed. The time was right for the province to observe these
rights in full.
Senator Beaudoin: You are quite right to ask the Newfoundland government to give
you control over governance of the French schools. How many students are there?
Could you get enough students to justify an all-francophone school board?
Ms Lacelle: In the Northwest Territories, there are a lot fewer students than
there are in Newfoundland.
Mr. Richard Charron, former president, Fédération des parents
francophones de Terre-Neuve et du Labrador: The issue was studied by a
departmental committee. This committee sat and studied the question for two
years. It studied six governance models for two years so as to better understand
this complicated issue and its subtleties. The unanimous recommendation coming
out of the Norman report was in fact that there should be a provincial school
board to take care of francophone schools; it was the most efficient way of
taking care of the francophone schools. This is how we would have liked school
reform to deal with the issue of French schools.
Senator Beaudoin: Would the francophone school board be province-wide?
Ms Lacelle: Yes.
Senator Beaudoin: A francophone school board that would have jurisdiction over
Ms Lacelle: Yes.
Senator Beaudoin: That seems fine to me. Is the government slow to act?
Ms Lacelle: Up to now, statements have been made, but no written commitment on
the part of the government, with respect to these commitments or statements,
has been made.
Senator Beaudoin: I am very much in favour of that, my colleagues are, too, on
the whole. The idea of having a province-wide, all-francophone school board is
not bad at all. Since there are not very many students, consolidation will
ensure you a critical mass and governance of the schools.
Mr. Charron: In the school legislation bill in the text tabled by the government
this winter, the sort of governance considered by the government at the time
divided the communities. The local committees where the schools were located
had some small veto provisions . We find that quite unacceptable. You cannot
govern by veto. What we are asking for is to consolidate our resources at the
provincial level and to make the best possible use of them at the provincial
level. There are all sorts of issues, such as distance teaching and specialty
services, things that are difficult to have in individual communities, but that
would be feasible if we could act together rather than separately. This
corresponds to the provincial governance model of consolidating our resources.
Senator Beaudoin: Good luck. If we can help you, we will do so.
Senator Ottenheimer: You are seeking the creation of one school board for the
five francophone schools, and that will enable the five schools to be
all-francophone. Is that right? With one school board, you will have five
Mr. Charron: Right now, we have only one all-francophone school. If we got a
school board in the immediate future, one way or another, there would be an
all-francophone school. St John's is growing. We are now at the point where the
city could have its own all-francophone program. In other places, more
enrolments will be necessary to justify all-francophone schools. To the extent
that it is possible, we would like to create schools in an environment as
francophone as possible for young people.
Senator Ottenheimer: The objective is for every francophone school to be an
Mr. Charron: Yes.
Senator Ottenheimer: You said that now the schools are under the aegis of the
Catholic school board. Do you have students from all denominations or even
without any denomination? Religion is not a barrier.
Mr. Charron: Yes.
Senator Ottenheimer: When you have a school board in Newfoundland for
francophones, will that give you access to federal government money or programs
that you cannot have right now?
Ms Lacelle: There is a certain amount granted at present by the federal
government. Is it mainly for school governance?
Senator Ottenheimer: Are there any programs or financial consequences that will
arise from the creation of a francohone school board?
Ms Lacelle: At present, francophone teachers must receive their professional
development in English because of budget restrictions. This is not always
simple since they teach in a French-as-a-first-language program. The teachers
have a program in French. We hope that, with the establishment of a provincial
school board, the doors will be opened to us. We will be able to operate more
Mr. Charron: The Department of Education manages grants to develop programs. The
terms and sharing of responsibilities between the provincial school boards and
the Department of Education, development of the curriculum and so on would have
to be negotiated. These things are now done by the Department of Education. We
are prepared to re-examine this issue, like all the rest, to see how we could
best manage the funds made available to the francophone communities with regard
Senator Ottenheimer: Does the current francophone school policy require teachers
to be francophone by birth? I am not talking about the level of professional
skill. Language and teaching skills are requisites. Is it policy or practice to
require that teachers be francophone by birth?
Mr. Charron: In some places, yes, in others, no.
Senator Ottenheimer: There are denominational rights, language rights, Charter
rights. There are English teachers here and elsewhere who teach French and
German and Russian. I give my full support -- as you know, we had an agreement
five or six weeks ago -- to the rights of the francophone minority in
Newfoundland and Labrador to its own school board. Everyone's rights must be
respected. Having such a policy is a bit like swimming in murky waters.
Objective criteria are required. If mother tongue is one of those criteria, it
should be re-examined.
Mr. Charron: The hiring policies are governed by the Catholic school boards. In
some places, it is done by local parent committees. To what extent parent
committees have taken part in applying hiring policies, I am not sure. These
are no doubt things that remain to be clarified.
Ms Lacelle: If I take the example of St John's and I am on the St John's parent
committee, we have no say or any active participation in the matter of hiring
teachers. There may have been someone who spoke French adequately but who was
not hired because they were not francophone by birth. There are some cases
beyond our control at present.
Senator Rompkey: I wish to welcome you. I also wish to say that I am going to
speak in English for the sake of comprehension.
You can see that I am still working on my English, but it is better than my
French. Until I achieve the facility of Senator Ottenheimer, I will continue in
my first language.
I want to ask you about Term 17. I listened carefully to what you said about
French language schools in the province. Of course Labrador is the area I know
best. I know that at one time there was indeed a French language section in the
schools in Labrador, but the francophone population has diminished in Labrador
West over a period of time. Although there is still a francophone presence and a
French language presence in the schools, it is not as dominant as it used to
I also recall the institution of the schools on the west coast. I was with Prime
Minister Trudeau on the west coast in the eighties when the first French
language schools in Newfoundland were created with federal assistance. I recall
very well the efforts of Father Kelly on the west coast of Newfoundland at that
time to bring those schools about. Indeed, there has certainly been a movement
and an improvement. I realize that you want to go even further than we have
gone so far.
Would you agree that the proposed new Term 17 provides a better opportunity for
governance than the present Term 17? My reading of the present Term 17 is that
the governance is vested in the churches. It is interesting that all of the
francophone schools are Catholic. That is understandable, but they are under a
denominational board. Of course, the boards in the province are denominational.
The fact that the Anglicans, the Salvation Army and the United Church have
agreed to come together does not invalidate the fact that under the present
Term 17 the governance is denominational.
Perhaps everyone would not agree with this, but I agree that it is very
difficult, if not impossible, for the government to move under the present Term
17 without an additional expenditure of funds or making unviable the schools
which already exist. That is perhaps a matter for debate. It is my opinion.
Sub-paragraph (b)(ii) of the proposed new Term 17 clearly states:
the Legislature may approve the establishment, maintenance and operation of a
publicly funded school, whether denominational or non-denominational;
Does the proposed new Term 17 provide the opportunity for governance? Once there
is constitutional certainty for the new Term 17, does it allow Roger Grimes to
write into the new Education Act the possibility for the governance of
francophones and their school system?
I hope my question is clear. Our mandate is to examine the proposed new Term 17
as opposed to the current Term 17. Is there a better opportunity under the
proposed new Term 17 for the governance of francophone schools than there would
be or there is now under the existing Term 17?
Ms Lacelle: I do not know if my response will be the answer you want to your
question. The main concern the francophone community has regarding this "all
school reform" is that our schools are small and will find themselves
isolated within three different mega school boards. Whether they are Catholic
or another denomination, the fear is that these students and schools will not
receive the attention they deserve.
I do not know if I have made myself clear. We believe that the survival of these
schools will be threatened if they are isolated within these big school boards.
Senator Rompkey: The point I was making is that you must now come under a
denominational board, be it Catholic, Pentecostal or integrated. There are only
three choices for you at the moment. There is really no other choice because
there is no public education system in this province. We will not get into the
debate about whether there can be or cannot be -- there is not. Therefore, you
must fall under a denominational school board of some sort.
As you say, under a big board, you will be swallowed up. Under the proposed new
Term 17, the legislature may approve the establishment, maintenance and
operation of a publicly funded school, whether denominational or
non-denominational. Under the proposed new Term 17 you do not have to be under
a denominational board. You may wish to stay.
I am simply asking about the opportunity which exists under the proposed new
Term 17 for you to choose as francophones. Having examined Term 17, I want to
know whether you agree or disagree that there is greater opportunity for you
with respect to governance under the proposed new Term 17.
Mr. Charron: The argument made to us in the past has been that without the
approval of denominational education councils, there is no way to proceed with
the kind of school board we hope to achieve. We have no idea whether there have
been discussions with the government at the level of denominational educational
councils. We have no idea whether the question was even entertained. Someone
said we cannot do it, so it has not been challenged, certainly not in court. We
do not know whether the question was ever raised.
Under the suggested new Term 17, the framework exists for us to proceed with the
type of school board that we seek. In the end, what interests us the most is
that the province initiated a major reform of the school system, and it is in
that context that we saw a perfect opportunity to settle this issue properly
once and for all.
Senator Rompkey: I think that is true. I understood your answer to be that the
suggested new Term 17 does give an opportunity that did not exist before. The
only point I wish to make is that until such time as the new Term 17 becomes
law, that opportunity is not there for you. In my opinion, the government is
unable to move to do the kinds of things you want. Other senators may disagree,
but that is my interpretation of the law.
Senator Kinsella: You were summarizing what the witnesses said.
Senator Rompkey: I was summarizing what the witnesses said as they agreed.
Senator Kinsella: I think you were wrong in your summary.
Senator Rompkey: To clarify the record, let me ask the question again. Is there
an opportunity in the new Term 17 for you to have governance that is not there
under the current Term 17? Is there a better opportunity under the new Term 17
for you to have governance in education or not?
The Chair: I suggest, witnesses, that you could answer "yes," "no,"
or "we do not know."
Senator MacDonald: For God's sake, say "yes."
Ms Lacelle: Politically, perhaps the answer would be "yes", but like
we said earlier, Term 17 refers to religious rights. We are here in terms of
linguistic rights, which are two different issues. I am referring to section 23
of the Charter. If the government of Newfoundland and Labrador wants to respect
francophones, it does not have to touch Term 17. It must merely respect the
Charter of Rights and go with section 23.
Senator Rompkey: I would debate that.
Senator Doody: And you have.
Senator Cogger: You mention, and it was discussed yesterday as well with Senator
Rompkey, the 1993 departmental report. I am not familiar with the report. Would
it be possible for us, Madam Chair, to get a copy?
Mr. Charron: It is a public document.
Senator Cogger: We will try to get hold of it. In the meantime, can you
enlighten me? According to your description, Mr. Norman is a minister in the
Ms Lacelle: No, at the time, he was the executive director of the education
Senator Cogger: When you say the ministerial report, is it because he is a
Ms Lacelle: No, at the end of the 1980s, a local parent committee in St John's
put pressure on the government and the Catholic school board for the
establishment of a school. Legal action was undertaken. Before we went to
court, the school was granted to us, but not school governance. We wanted both.
We were given the school. We were told, "We are going to set up a committee
to study the issue of school governance in the province." Hence the
Senator Cogger: When this report, it seems, according to your submission,
highly recommends a governance model for the francophone education system,
these are your terms, when this report does this, it does so in 1993, therefore
before the proposed amendments were known. The recommendation was made in light
of the situation in 1993, therefore in accordance with Term 17, as it still
exists today, is that right? Which means that is was feasible. Mr. Norman did
not recommend something impossible.
Mr. Charron: The lawyers who took part in the departmental exercise concluded
that the recommendations were feasible. The politicians who received the
recommendation said that it was not feasible.
Senator Cogger: In other words, we do not know whether it was legally impossible
or a lack of political will.
Mr. Charron: It is not clear.
Senator Cogger: It is not clear.
Mr. Charron: It is not the first time.
Senator Cogger: Did you make any representations to the House of Commons when
the amendment was passed by the House of Commons?
Mr. Charron: I do not think so.
Senator Cogger: You did not talk to any MPs?
Mr. Charron: From time to time, we come to Ottawa. We see MPs one at a time.
Recently, there has been a lot of talk of school reform, that is all.
Senator Cogger: I ask you the question because my interpretation of the debate
in the House of Commons is that the Bloc Québécois voted heavily
in favour of the amendment, but for the wrong reasons. I am surprised that the
Bloc Québécois did not take up the defense of the rights of
francophones outside Quebec.
Mr. Charron: What surprises me even more is the attitude of the Liberal
Senator Cogger: Which one, the one in Ottawa, or the one here?
Mr. Charron: The one in Ottawa.
Senator Cogger: Once again, we are perpetually surprised. In the end, the
amendment to Term 17 and the question before us, the creation of a school
board, are two separate issues.
Mr. Charron: We have always approached it as two separate issues.
Senator Cogger: The solution to your problem does not need to wait until the
other one is solved. It could have been settled already.
Ms Lacelle: Yes.
Senator Cogger: Finally, the Minister of Education is holding you hostage by
saying, "Give me what I want if you want to get what you want."
Ms Lacelle: That is the feeling we have.
The Chair: For purposes of clarification, I think Mr. Norman is still the
Executive Director of the Integrated Education Council. He appeared earlier
this morning. Unfortunately, we could not ask him about this because we did not
know about it at the time. However, we will get a report for Senator Cogger as
well as other senators.
Senator Pearson: Your demand has my full support. My question is the following:
Have you decided whether you want your school board to be denominational?
Mr. Charron: Denomination as such is not essential, the local schools can make
their own choices about denomination. What we are concerned about is language.
Senator Pearson: The Ottawa experience was interesting. A francophone school
board was set up five years ago. The two were together, the separate schools
and the public schools. After two or three years, they were forced to separate.
There are now two francophone school boards in Ottawa. One of the problems was
the ability or not to hire Catholic teachers. This became a priority issue. If
you want someone who is well qualified from the point of view of language and
competence, you are stopped by the fact that the person has to be a Catholic. I
noted the enormous difference between a francophone school board, for children
who are in francophone schools; in Ottawa, they have fewer resources perhaps in
psychology and other areas. So I support your position fully.
Ms Lacelle: Thank you.
Senator Kinsella: I have three questions about the other side of the coin. If
the Senate does not pass this resolution and if the House of Commons does not
reintroduce the resolution, we remain in the same situation. According to
section 23, you have the right to continue.
Ms Lacelle: Yes.
Senator Kinsella: There is no risk.
Ms Lacelle: At present, our case is before a judge, who will decide for us,
regardless of the outcome of events.
Senator Kinsella: About the quality of the programs...
Senator Rompkey: That decision has not been made, has it?
Mr. Charron: No.
Senator Rompkey: There is a case before the courts.
Mr. Charron: There is a case before the courts.
Senator Rompkey: It has not been decided.
Mr. Charron: No.
Senator Kinsella: In these five schools, how many students do you have?
Ms Lacelle: For the 1995-96 school year, 325 students.
Senator Kinsella: How many students are in high school?
Mr. Charron: There is one school, in Grand'Terre, which offers a complete
program, and in Cap St-Georges, there is a partial program up to grade nine.
Senator Kinsella: Do you have students who have completed grade twelve and who
have qualified for post-secondary education?
Mr. Charron: Last year was the first one in which students completed grade
twelve. One student will pursue her studies in French outside Newfoundland. She
will be the first one.
Senator Kinsella: The goal is to prepare students for university.
Mr. Charron: Yes, but that is a bit more complicated. Our grade twelve students
who want to continue studying in French have to meet the entrance criteria of
post-secondary institutions outside Newfoundland. With regard to individuals'
quality or skills, we must meet not only the criteria of Newfoundland but also
those of other provinces. There are also students in Labrador City who, when
they decide to continue their studies in French, have to go to Quebec. Young
people must be given skills so that they can continue their high school studies
The Chair: Senators, that brings our formal presentations this morning to an
end. We do have some walk-ons, however.
We have an extremely limited amount of time. I would ask the witnesses to be
very brief, otherwise we will not be able to keep to our schedule.
Please identify yourself and make your statement.
Ms June Alteen: Good morning, Madam Chair and honourable senators. Welcome to
Newfoundland. Thank you for your consideration of and attention to a matter that
has been demonstrated in these past few days to be of extreme importance to
Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.
I am chair of the Humber-St. Barbe Roman Catholic School Board. For those of you
not familiar with the mighty Humber, our board district spans a geographical
area including Corner Brook, Bay of Islands and all the way up the west coast
of Newfoundland to the tip of the Northern Peninsula. Within this board are
approximately 2,200 students for whom we endeavour to provide the finest
quality education with available resources and severe financial constraints.
Our board enjoys numerous joint service arrangements at the primary, elementary
and secondary levels with various integrated school boards. These joint service
schools successfully allow our Roman Catholic board and the integrated board
the pursuit of respective religious objectives cooperatively within the
confines of single physical plants. Indeed, we are pleased to be proceeding
with a new joint service arrangement in Pasadena, which will result in enhanced
educational opportunities for all students within that community.
Let me state unequivocally that our board has no wish to diminish the
denominational rights of others. However, we petition this Senate committee to
enable Roman Catholic parents to retain their minority denominational rights
currently entrenched in the Constitution of Canada as identified in the Terms
of Union with Newfoundland which allows Roman Catholic parents to choose the
form of education we desire for our children.
Ninety per cent of our communities have single-system schools. As such, the
majority of students attend neighbourhood schools. Our schools are inclusive of
children of all faiths and beliefs. However, I confess that I do not share
concern with the concept of neighbourhood schools. We live in a global
community in many ways and, as such, are preparing our children for assimilation
within that global community.
Preceding, during and subsequent to the referendum, the Government of
Newfoundland and Labrador has focused extensively on the financial savings of a
reformed education system. We believe the thrust of education reform by the
government has been fiscally driven with a view exclusively to the bottom line
and to the ultimate detriment of the quality of education for our students. It
is indeed ironic that a government, which erroneously implied that educational
reform was required to address national performance levels, has demonstrated no
intention to redirect financial savings or any additional resources toward
improving the quality of education within this province. Shamefully, this
year's education budget for kindergarten to post-secondary level has been
reduced by $70 million.
The Humber-St. Barbe School Board believes that educational reform can be
achieved in this province without amendment to Term 17. In addition to joint
service arrangements, we work cooperatively with shared services, personnel and
resources. Eighty-five per cent of the recommendations of the Williams
commission can be implemented by the Ministry of Education without
Let me conclude by stating that I am also a parent of two young children, one of
whom will be entering kindergarten this September. As a board member and as a
parent, I am committed to achieving the highest quality education for our
Newfoundland and Labrador children. As a Roman Catholic and a parent, I beseech
you to enshrine the right of freedom of choice in selecting that form of
education for our children.
Mr. Brian Shortall: It is with some fear and trepidation that I approach the
microphone. I work for one of the four school boards in this area which will
soon be merged into one board. I do not want to take the chance of offending
any of my colleagues because I want to stay working for that new school board.
I am speaking to you as an individual more than anything else.
Over the past day and a half, I have heard talk of rights and more rights and
all kinds of rights. My understanding is that the rights at question here are
not all the kinds of rights which have been trotted out across this floor over
the last day and a half. Only one set of rights is at issue here, and that is
the set of educational rights which were guaranteed and entrenched in the
Canadian Constitution when this province became part of Canada. These
educational rights belong to the various individual classes of people in
I come from the Roman Catholic class of people. We fought hard for our
educational rights for over 250 years before we had them safeguarded, as they
are now, and they will not be easily ignored. I say this not to object to
interdenominational school boards and interdenominational school board
governance. These things are quite possible. The school board I work for is more
than willing to engage and participate in this process. I urge you to take
measures to ensure that these historically hard-fought-for and hard-won
educational rights are protected in the future.
Most of you, like me, can easily recall our school systems and our country as it
was 20 or 30 years ago. Even in the late sixties, Canada was a much kinder and
warmer country. In Canada, we taught democracy in schools and to the individual
citizen. We taught the fact that we had to tolerate and respect individual
differences and individual rights and facilitate those particular individual
differences. Unfortunately, today, our society is becoming one of minority
interest groups and we are into power battles. That is not what schools are
In your deliberations, senators, I ask you not to lose sight of the importance
of ensuring that rights which were entrenched in constitutions to safeguard
them are maintained. Doing that does not interfere with interdenominational
school governance or any other kind of school organization which we may wish to
move toward in this province.
Mr. Mike Finn: Madam Chair, honourable senators, I am the vice-chair of the
Appalachia Roman Catholic School Board which serves 4,500 registered students
in 18 schools in western Newfoundland. I presented my brief this morning to the
clerk. I think you have a copy. I will highlight a few points and let the other
speakers get to the microphones.
Our board serves the area of Port au Port Peninsula, Stephenville and
southwestern Newfoundland to Codroy Valley. In our jurisdiction, we have two
francophone schools, which this school board has dealt with uniquely in this
province. For example, governance issues have been addressed to the maximum
possible under present legislation.
The area served by Appalachia is predominantly Roman Catholic. The region was
covered by three provincial districts in 1994 and voted nearly 60 per cent "no"
in the famous referendum.
The region was represented by three Liberal MHAs. Two were members of the Wells
cabinet and voted with the government in the House of Assembly and against the
wishes of their constituents. The third MHA voted against the government's
proposal to amend Term 17.
From our perspective, Madam Chair, the Senate must perform a valuable service to
Canada by formally defining a minority group and by outlining a procedure to be
followed if rights in any minority group are to be changed or revoked. The
Appalachia School Board believes that this is a minority rights issue.
An editorial in a local weekly newspaper called the Georgian is attached to our
brief. The article was written by Mr. Chisholm Portier and expresses some
different views from the media in the province.
Another attachment at the back is an article from the Evening Telegram of 1970.
It shows a much younger Clyde Wells. Wells was an independent Liberal at the
time, and he spoke in the legislature concerning the Schools Act. The article
states that Mr. Wells was speaking in the legislature during the debate on
second reading of the new Schools Act and said that the legislation was an
improvement, but the eventual aim should be a public education system, not
continuation of the current denominational system. The premier of the day, Mr.
Smallwood, then rose and said that he thought that would be forcing the issue.
He wanted to let things evolve.
My father-in-law was one of the members from Port au Port in the original
Confederation debate in 1948-49. I remember talking to him a number of times
about the debate on Confederation. He was an educator and a Catholic. He
instilled in me that rights should be enshrined in the Constitution when we
joined Canada. That is something that helped me, my children and hopefully his
grandchildren and my grandchildren.
In 1972, I had the opportunity to speak to Mr. Smallwood. I mentioned my
father-in-law's name, and he said, "Oh, yes, I remember him well. We had a
long, hard fight for Confederation." He poked me on the chest with his
finger, as he used to do, and said, "But one of the things I want to tell
you, sir, is that Mike McCarthy, who fought with me during Confederation,
wanted to ensure that the rights of Catholics and other religious denominations
would remain entrenched in the Constitution. Don't you ever forget that, my
son." After that, I felt that my children, my grandchildren and their
children should have the right to Catholic schools if numbers warrant.
Ms Susan McCorquodale: Good morning, senators. I teach political science at
Memorial University. I have tried over the years to tell my students that they
live in a liberal democracy; that it is both democratic and liberal. I have
regarded myself as a liberal democrat all my life.
When this issue arose, I was concerned about which side I would come down on. It
is important to me to be consistent. The way I have sorted it out in my own
mind so that I can support the resolution before the House of Commons and the
Senate is that this is not a matter of individual rights or collective rights
-- it is a matter of governance. The religious rights of churches are protected.
What is involved here is power. Who will govern the schools of this province?
When I refer to the governance of schools, I mean particular things such as the
hiring and firing of teachers. Who will determine what schools will be where?
When the system changes from 27 school boards to 10, the power of the
denominational education committee will diminish in the province as a whole. We
will not change very much at all. Therefore, I want to see the resolution
passed as it is currently before the Senate. The fears raised this morning can
be dealt with after, but stage one, the current resolution, is before the
Mr. William Lee: Madam Chair and honourable senators, I am the superintendent of
the Avalon Consolidated School Board located in St. John's. I have been
requested by my school board to make a short presentation.
Our school board pursued every avenue open to us to be granted witness status at
these hearings, even to the point of writing to you, Madam Chair, however, to
no avail. As the largest integrated school board in this province and as an
active participant in the recent demise of the so-called framework agreement,
we felt that we had some information on this education reform issue which might
be of interest to you.
I viewed most of these hearings on TV and I sat through the hearings yesterday
and today. With great respect, I must say that your attempt to be fair falls
short of the mark. I chalk this up to your lack of understanding of our school
system. I fail to comprehend your logic when you allocate the same amount of
time to four denominations -- Anglican, United Church, Salvation Army and
Presbyterian -- as you do to the Pentecostal and Roman Catholic denominations
individually. It is even more illogical to grant the Seventh-day Adventists one
hour when they have a student enrolment in their schools of approximately 200
students, of whom 30 per cent belong to the integrated denominations, and then
to permit the Ottawa Board of Education 30 minutes when the Avalon Consolidated
School Board, with a student population of 2,800 students, a board in the most
affected province, is relegated to walk-on status.
I realize that time is a factor, but it is our money you are spending. This is
probably the most important issue that will affect our children, our parents
and our future. As such, at least the integrated school boards deserve better.
Consequently, I submit with the greatest respect that you should have taken the
opportunity to hear from the school boards which represent the parents and the
First, I want to re-emphasize what the Integrated Education Council said this
morning. Integrated school boards in this province represent a community of
minorities, and we are an inclusive school system.
Second, the Avalon Consolidated School Board, in its submission to the Royal
Commission, clearly emphasized that we wanted to extend the current cooperative
model of the integrated denominations to its logical conclusion and natural
evolution, that of an interdenominational school system, not a
non-denominational school system and not a non-Christian school system, as some
would have you believe.
Third, why did the framework fail? Let me do what I can in a very short period
of time to give you some understanding.
For three years, the government and the churches attempted to get an agreement
and they could not. All of a sudden, within three weeks after the election, an
agreement was reached. The Avalon Consolidated School Board was not stunned,
but we were obviously sceptical. We met with the minister, reviewed the
document and publicly rejected it. We rejected it because it was totally
contrary to what the Royal Commission, the follow-up reports "Adjusting the
Course", part one and part two, the referendum brochure and the proposed
Schools Act indicated we could expect.
The previous government said that we could expect an interdenominational school
system made up of inter-denominational school boards committed to creating the
majority of schools in the province as interdenominational schools. That did
not eliminate and we would not agree to eliminate the possibility and the right
to have unidenominational schools.
The previous government was adamant about reducing the role of the churches; the
framework agreement was not. Nor was the framework agreement committed to
interdenominational schools. The previous government was committed to
neighbourhood schools; this government was not.
I see the signal to conclude. I am obviously being cut off. I thank you for the
short period of time you have allowed me. It is unfortunate that we have not
been able to put forward our position as an integrated, consolidated school
The Chair: By way of clarification, we received a brief from the Avalon
Consolidated School Board, and it has been distributed to all members of the
The decision about who will or who will not be witnesses before this group is
not made by me alone. It is made by the steering committee. I am on that
committee, as well as Senator Doody and Senator Lewis, both of whom represent
the province of Newfoundland.
Ms Suzanne Dyer: I am a citizen of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador and
a citizen of Canada. I believe in a fully integrated system. However, that
would leave me conveniently to say that this is acceptable or anything else is
acceptable to get what I desire.
I do not believe that Term 17 accomplishes what anyone wants. We are hearing a
lot about how "yes" means "yes." People are saying, "We
voted on something, but we did not know what we were voting on."
I wish to point out that this country still has section 93 of the Constitution.
Section 93 was for Newfoundland, Saskatchewan and Alberta. Term 17 was to
replace section 93. The only effect of Term 17 was to strengthen the rights of
section 93. If we change Term 17, Newfoundland and Labrador will have a totally
different beginning to its term than any other province in Canada, which I
believe sets a precedent.
I agree with Professor McCorquodale. I would like to see this sort of system.
However, I do not think this is the way to effect it. I see ourselves ending up
in court with a lot of wrangles.
We were told during this process that the government was attempting to establish
a system with no discrimination and fewer boards. The boards have been agreed
to. The busing system has already been changed.
As for discrimination, there is already a clause which says that if numbers
warrant and if someone sets up a denominational system, they have the full
right to discriminate anyway. I do not see that change giving us what they
would give us.
I am rather confused. I am a strong supporter of reform of the education system.
Again, I would like to see a fully integrated system. The constitutional
fiddling sets a precedent. I strongly urge you to look at section 93 and the
other Term 17s. You will see that what I am saying is true. This sets a
precedent which exists in no other province in this country. I believe we will
have a lot of problems associated with that. If we are going to make a
constitutional amendment, Newfoundland and Labrador would be better off to
simply revert to section 93. This would make us equal with the rest of Canada,
other than the provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta which continue to have
their Term 17s. Under that arrangement, I think we can probably reform our
I thank you very much for this opportunity, which was not given to me before the
Mr. Glenn Moores: Senators, thank you for this opportunity to speak. I am a
parent of two children who attend a Pentecostal school here in St. John's.
I have been a police officer with the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary for the
last 16 years. I have enjoyed a job in which I serve and protect the people of
Newfoundland and Labrador. Your job as senators, as with my job, is to serve
the public and protect minority rights and the rights of all people.
I went to a Pentecostal school in 1972. I did not come from a Pentecostal
background; I came from a United Church background. Yet, I was accepted
whole-heartedly into a Pentecostal school with no repercussions. I was accepted
as a regular person. I enjoyed the school and learned a lot of moral and
ethical values. Their teaching of faith has been an important part of my life
and my family's life. My children now attend the same school. They started in
kindergarten and are now in Grade 7 and Grade 9. I do not wish to see the
rights of my children and my grandchildren taken away.
We are all here together. The minority forms part of the majority. This is how
people get elected. Every vote counts. The Senate decision on Term 17 is
important for the minority group here. As small as our minority may be, it is
still a big voice, and you are a big voice and a big part of it. You are a link
in the chain. This is important to the welfare of my children.
I believe in my system and I believe in the Pentecostal system. I believe and
respect other people's faiths, but I do know that we all have rights.
Protecting those rights is important to our livelihood.
I thank you for the opportunity to speak. Please, when you return to Ottawa,
promise that you will protect the rights of the minority.
Mr. Daryl Prosper: With your permission, I will submit my brief in writing.
The Chair: Certainly.
Mr. Prosper: I am a minister and teacher with the Pentecostal Assemblies. I
address you today not in those roles, but in one much more important -- that of
I have heard a lot about rights in these debates over the past few years, but I
hear very little about the word "responsibility". Prior to any right
conferred upon me as a parent, I have right and the awesome responsibility to
help my child become the most productive citizen she can be in her generation.
In my view, Term 17 of our present Constitution merely recognizes and protects
that right from violation at the hands of the majority which may, perhaps not
now but at some point, be antagonistic to our point of view as a people and
mine as an individual. That is the nature of a constitutionally organized
The debate is not about religious education or religious information; it is
about instruction that is Christian. It is a part of my right to see that my
child is not only educated but is educated from the world view that I share and
I feel is the best for her.
Fortune Magazine reported on a study done in 1986 which showed that a full 91
per cent of the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies learned their values, ethics and
morals from the same source -- the Bible and the church. At least they claimed
affiliation with a Catholic or Protestant church or Jewish synagogue. I suggest
to you that the Judeo-Christian ethic really does make a difference in society.
It makes a difference in the citizens of that society by teaching them to be
successful and influential and by giving them skills.
The Harvard Business Review and the Carnegie Foundation, among others, also did
studies which indicate that only about 15 per cent of the ability of people get
a job, keep that job and move ahead in that job is due to their technical
abilities. The larger 85 per cent of their ability to do that has to do with
their people skills. That is significant because the Judeo-Christian ethic
addresses that very issue -- people skills. It is also significant when
election platforms these days seem to surround the issue of jobs, jobs, jobs
and Red Book promises. The evidence is there. That is why we debate. We want to
give the best possible educational opportunities to our children, and that is
from an educational system imbued with the Judeo-Christian ethic.
Senators, you entered politics because you wanted to contribute to your society
to make a difference. I call upon you today to look beyond the trees and get
the overall picture of the issues involved here. I ask you: Are my prior rights
and responsibilities as a Christian parent helped by the constitutional
amendment before you? Are my child's opportunities as a developing citizen being
enhanced by it? Will our society be better served when the promotion of the
people skills that have proven to make the difference we all seek for our
society are effectively removed from the education system? I call upon you to
correct the injustice of the process that has already been alluded to by the
honourable senator from Quebec. I ask you to stop this redundant measure of
Reform has already begun and will continue with much agreement among the parties
involved. Through the framework agreement mentioned earlier, the necessary
changes can be implemented without constitutional amendment. As a parent, I do
not give my permission to take that protection away.
Mr. Ali Chaisson: I think it is very important to have the products of the
province's francophone education system. I graduated in 1989. I was, however,
supported by a francophone system that conveys its values within this program.
We worked within this context. With regard to school governance in our system,
the question was asked earlier. At present, the products of the provincial
francophone education system are of relatively high quality, if you consider the
resources made available to educators in these schools. Generally speaking,
there is an increase in quality, when our products are compared to those of
Quebec or other parts of Acadia. It is very important to take that into
With regard to the governance francophones will have, the ability to govern,
this capacity to guarantee that the finished product, after 12 years of
education, will be admitted to university on the same footing as those who
attend a francophone school elsewhere in the country, that is the basic
question. School governance grants the right to check the product and give all
the resources necessary to enable young francophones, once they have finished
school, and they have this language identity, which is not the case at present.
I request your support for this basic right.
Mr. Michael Furlong: Madam Chair and honourable senators, thank you for the
opportunity of appearing before you. I am a parent. I have been fascinated by
the last day and a half, I must say. I would like to make two points.
First, members of the integrated panel this morning recognized, as I believe the
panels did yesterday, the implications and potential inherent hazards in the
proposed amendment to Term 17. Yet they advocate that it be passed even though
it is not their preferred option. I agree with Bishop Harvey's statement that
such action will likely result in years of legal wrangling. Is this what the
system of education in this province needs? I think not.
Second, I have noticed that Senator Lewis has, on several occasions, expressed
bafflement and bewilderment about the lack of trust in the legislative process.
He asks why we do not trust the legislature to do the right thing once the
granting of legislative authority in the proposed amendment has been passed. He
asked that last night of a student.
We have every reason not to trust the legislative process. For example, I will
read from Hansard of March 12, 1993, which was introduced yesterday in
evidence. Premier Wells, addressing this issue in the house, said:
...no government can ride roughshod over the constitutional rights of people.
Mr. Speaker, we also have people in this Province with great personal integrity,
and the people collectively will not tolerate the majority using its power and
influence by majority votes to diminish or destroy the rights of minorities.
This will not happen. I am confident that if a government wanted to do it, they
would be stopped dead by the people of this Province because they will not see
that happen. It is intolerable.
Another example is the proposed legislation which was revealed to the public
only after the September referendum. It was so controversial that it had to be
withdrawn. As we heard this morning from one of the members of the integrated
panel, the Moravians were eliminated from constitutional protection even though
Premier Wells had assured them prior to that point.
These and other examples have been set before you. I do not think they build a
case for trust. The action of holding one's nose and voting for this amendment,
as was suggested this morning, does not seem to me to be either logical or
appropriate when the substance being dealt with is constitutional change.
Mr. Robert Cormier: I hope you will have an opportunity during your stay to
leave off working a little and have some fun. I would like to remind Senator
Rompkey that, in 1975, he and Mr. Trudeau came to Cap St-Georges to inaugurate
the first French-language immersion program in Newfoundland.
Concerning minority rights, I think there is a bit of confusion. There are the
rights of the language minority guaranteed by section 23 of the Charter of
Rights and Freedoms. There are also the rights of the religious denominations.
For francophone parents in this province, the province is fully entitled to
grant school governance to francophones without any amendment to Term 17. I am a
bit afraid of this argument in that it may remove a right from a minority. We
must realize that removing a right without the consent of the minority is an
extremely important thing. I would like you to remember that when you make your
Ms Lucy Counsel: Good afternoon, senators. I am a teacher with the Roman
Catholic School Board. I am also a mother of six children.
It is not often that women want to admit their age, but I am old enough to
remember when this term was enshrined in the Constitution. My father was very
concerned about our religious rights. I remember him saying that the term was
not worth the paper on which it was written. I thought it was a terrible
comment at the time, but now I am afraid his prophecy might be coming true.
I have been asked many times by my pupils about the function of senators. After
this exercise, I think we can say you have indeed fulfilled a great function in
your efforts on our behalf. Please go back to Parliament and ensure that our
minority rights are protected and that my children and grandchildren can be
educated by our Catholic teachings.
Mr. Patrick Counsel: Senators, I am a parish council chairperson. I am a retired
teacher of 30 years; 4 years in the separate school system in Ontario and 26
years here in Newfoundland. I am also the father of six children.
I am appalled that the Parliament of this country would pass so quickly this
resolution with its inherent dangers. I compliment the Senate for conducting
these hearings. You have been chosen because of your great wisdom and your
experience to protect the fabric of this country.
I am puzzled and amazed that three parties from our House of Assembly went to
Ottawa to lobby for this resolution to be passed. It is very confusing.
I respectfully ask you to reject this resolution. From my experience in teaching
in the Catholic school, I can assure you that there has never been a greater
need for students to be given an holistic education. Since the moratorium has
been in place, pressure has been put on Newfoundland families. Those pressures
have shown up in our schools in the form of emotional and psychological
problems. Everyone believes that a student who cannot eat cannot learn. I
submit to you that a student who has a broken spirit does not care about hunger
and cares less about education. Our Catholic education can give that to our
children right now, no matter how you slice it. If this amendment passes, the
erosion of Catholic rights in Newfoundland will eventually end in complete
dissolution of minority rights.
Ms Lorraine Brown: Good afternoon senators. I have attended all of these
hearings. I will be brief because I know you are hungry.
I have listened to Senator MacDonald repeatedly ask what happened to the
framework agreement in that nine-week period. He spent quite some time this
morning, as did other senators, asking the Integrated Education Council what
happened and why they withdrew their support, because they did in fact withdraw
When the framework was struck -- "agreement" appears to be a word that
people do not like to hear attached to this particular framework -- the
denominational education commissions called their respective school boards
together. I am the chair of a Catholic school board. I came to St. John's the
day after they reached a framework of some kind and I sat with other chairs of
Catholic school boards. The integrated boards were meeting at the same time in
this hotel, and the Pentecostals had already met.
We were delighted, as Catholic chairs and superintendents, to see a basis from
which we could move while recognizing that we were relinquishing a lot of our
rights. We were prepared to do that because that framework included our rights
of Catholics, Pentecostals and integrated people to have denominational
committees on the new, interim, interdenominational boards. We were delighted to
know that we would still have a Catholic presence with some statutory rights.
Obviously people do not want to tell you why the framework was scuttled, as it
indeed was. It was scuttled because Catholics and Pentecostals would still have
I have heard speaker after speaker this morning say they support
interdenominational school boards. Supporting something interdenominational
means you support denominational education. What they are saying to us as
Catholics, Pentecostals and Seventh-day Adventists is, "Join us, please, in
integration." We said no in 1969. We felt then that our beliefs were
different and we still believe that we are different. We said "no"
during the referendum. The people in my school board district voted "no"
Let it be known today, and you heard yesterday, that the Catholics in this
province have not given the Government of Canada permission to take away our
rights for Catholic education.
The Chair: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for your participation this morning
and your compliance with the rules of the Senate.