The more significant question that needs to be addressed is not what public Roman Catholic schools can and cannot force their students to study, but rather why, in 2014, we still have publicly funded Catholic schools at all (Catholic Boards Enforce Religion Classes, Despite Court Order – Aug. 12).
If we truly are a country that values the separation of church and state, and holds all religious beliefs as equal, then why does Ontario continue to fund Catholic schools? The best long-term solution would be to put an end to this anachronistic funding once and for all.
Greta Hoaken, Toronto
As a former Toronto resident now living in Nova Scotia, I’m appalled that Ontario continues to cling to a divisive, expensive system of taxpayer-funded public and Catholic schools. Provinces like Nova Scotia were able to make the change to a single higher-quality system decades ago. It’s time for Ontario to let churches, mosques and synagogues promote their religions with their own funds while making a high quality, secular public school system available to all.
John Nowlan, Halifax
With three grown children of my own, I certainly share the concern of parents who requested exemption from religious education in Catholic high schools.
But religious education is both academically challenging and rewarding in many ways. As well as the Catholic faith, students explore various dimensions of personal growth, relationships and sexuality. These courses provide a unique opportunity to freely discuss a variety of life issues, to develop interpersonal skills, to discern moral and ethical choices. Grade 11 is devoted to the study of world religions. Grade 12 is a philosophical quest to explore what it means to live a good life.
One more math class may or may not make a difference in the long haul. But the guidance to help navigate life’s difficult journey could make all the difference. The long-term educational value of religious education should not be too easily dismissed.
John Podgorski, part-time professor, University of Ottawa
Rest in peace
I’m 25 and have seen the inside of more than one psychiatric ward in my life. It brings me no particular pleasure to admit that fact, but on days like today, I’m reminded of the importance of not trying to run from reality, either (A Groundbreaking Comic Genius – Aug. 12).
The first time was when I was just 12, in a youth ward. Amidst all the unpleasantness, one faint memory persists. I recall some old VHS tapes piled in the corner of an otherwise neglected little room – there, I suppose, to help cheer up the kids who probably needed a little more cheering up than the rest.
I try not to reflect on this period that often, and they say you can only trust your memory so much, but I’m pretty sure of one thing – no one was on more of those tapes than Robin Williams. Rest in peace.
Harrison Hewitt, Mississauga
Whether a discussion of pot advocate Marc Emery’s character is germane to the issue of pot legalization or not (Pot Still Fails The Sniff Test – Aug. 12), the bottom line remains: Who do you want controlling your children’s access to marijuana – the government, or a drug dealer? Who do you want to be responsible for quality control, strength and additives in the street drugs young people seem to have no trouble getting? Why, they even seem to be able to pick stuff up from the ground (Drugs And Sense – editorial, Aug. 11). The status quo is hurting our young people and should be changed even if Mr. Emery is not a saint.
Colin Lowe, Nanaimo, B.C.
We ended alcohol prohibition nearly a century ago – so why are we still having the same debate? When we accepted and started to control a popular and unquashable social behaviour instead of pushing it into the closet, we instantly disabled a giant layer of criminal distribution and at the same time erased so much of the “forbidden apple” appeal of the substance. Let’s stop debating and start legalizing, regulating and educating.
Andreas Souvaliotis, Toronto
What feminism isn’t
In response to Women Against #WomenAgainstFeminism (Focus – Aug. 9):
I wish to also point out to those who support the #WomenAgainstFeminism argument that there is an irony of which many seem unaware. The fact that they can comment, that they can choose for themselves how to live or what to wear, that they can simply show their faces or laugh in public (see recent articles on women defying Turkish edicts on modesty) – all this and more is made possible by those before them who fought and continue to fight for women’s rights.
Feminism isn’t a lifestyle choice. It’s the collective voice of those resisting inequality and discrimination based on someone’s sex. In modern Western societies, if you choose to allow others to pass comment on your appearance, or let others make choices or decisions for you, then you are responsible for the consequences because you have the right to decide for yourself. Many other women and girls do not, and perhaps never will have that freedom in their lifetimes. Feminists will continue to argue for them, but for those women who choose to not respect these hard-earned rights, be careful – you may lose them, too.
Wendy Foster-DeGroot, Dundas, Ont.
Before concluding that feminism is no longer needed except in Third World countries, one ought to have a look at the photographs in the Weekly Appointment Review of Monday’s Globe: 12 men and two women. Indeed, I have yet to see an Appointment Review in which a substantial majority of appointees are not men. Women have made many gains over the past few decades, but much remains to be achieved.
Olga Eizner Favreau, Montreal
2015 election primer
According to Adnan Khan’s column (Erdogan Takes A Page From Putin – Aug. 12): “A new form of democracy is on the rise …Media freedoms are curtailed, judicial independence undermined, security apparatuses corralled to serve the governing clique, and civil society incapacitated. [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan has managed Turkish democracy expertly, covering over his authoritarianism with a thin democratic veil.”
Am I the only Canadian who reads this and thinks of Prime Minister Stephen Harper?
Richard Grover, Winnipeg
One question about Justin Trudeau’s forthcoming book (Battling It Out On The Nation’s Bookshelves – Aug. 12): Does it come with crayons?
Stephen Phillips, Vancouver
Re the letter (Total Immersion – Aug. 12) about Canadian English. I would like to add the following, heard daily on the CBC:
“Progress” has become “prahgress,” “process” has become “prahcess,” “record” has become “reckerd” and “news” has become “noos.”
Best of all is Peter Mansbridge saying “Dook of Cambridge.” Poor William.
M.A. Pitt, Charlottetown