Steelcitygrit [in exile]

Ruminating on all things Canadian and political.


Thursday, September 06, 2007

don't call it a comeback, (plus public funding for illiberal institutions!)

I'm now exiled in the Big Smoke, at least for a little while. Back to blogging after a long long hiatus, because it's election season and the getting's good.

First things first, the justifiably-deplored religious schools strategy of the Tories.

A year ago almost exactly, Janice Stein addressed similar issues in a dynamite article for the Literary Review. She asks the appropriate questions, of state-religion relationships already in place:

Women in Canada are guaranteed equal treatment and an equal voice in the determination of our shared vision of the common good. We respect rights and we respect diversity, but at times the two compete. How do we mediate these disputes? What to do about private religious schools, for example, that meet government criteria by teaching the official curriculum but segregate women in separate classrooms? Or segregate women in religious worship?...

These religious institutions that systemically discriminate against women often have legal standing and are therefore recognized, at least implicitly, by governments. How can we in Canada, in the name of religious freedom, continue furtively and silently to sanction this kind of discrimination?

She warns about the inadvertent effects of the sort of "shallow multiculturalism" which Tory espouses: community does not necessarily learn about another and then multiculturalism can have perverse effects. It can strengthen the boundaries around each community and, in so doing, help to seal one community off from another. A Home Office report, issued in England after riots broke out in three northern industrial towns in 2001, found “separate educational arrangements, community and voluntary bodies, employment, places of worship, language, social and cultural networks,” producing living arrangements that “do not seem to touch at any point.” Trevor Philips, chair of the Commission for Racial Equality, warned recently that much of Britain was “sleepwalking its way toward segregation.”


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