Monday, September 19, 2011

Response to questions from the Canadian Secular Alliance

I received this questionnaire and have placed my responses in the text.

I am writing to you on behalf of the Canadian Secular Alliance - a national and non-partisan non-profit organization whose objective is to advocate for church-state separation and government neutrality with respect to religion.

We have prepared a short questionnaire regarding issues relevant to our mandate in Ontario. We would greatly appreciate if you could complete the questionnaire and send your responses to

We understand that some of the questions reference propositions that might be complicated to implement, but we are looking for your position on the principles they embody. The responses we receive will be posted, without modification, to our website and circulated to our members. Thank you in advance for your time and consideration and best of luck in the election.

Question 1. Do you support saving the province a minimum of half a billion dollars every year by amalgamating the public and Catholic school systems into a single, secular taxpayer funded school system for each language?

David McGruer: Such a question can only arise in a society where government has forced students into state-run schools and forced citizens to pay for it, and further implies that such a coercive arrangement is desirable. In a free society, individuals establish schools that offer what they believe parents want in an educational institution, parents choose among the schools offered, competition between all such institutions requires them to remain relevant and productive, and so families obtain the educational services they want, not what is dictated they must have by those in central command.  I am in favour of a free education system, meaning all participants are free to choose, instead of the current one.  Using more force to reduce existing choice in schools can only make things worse and validates the use of force in education.

Question 2. Is it acceptable to allow religious leaders of any denomination to conduct prayer sessions on public school property during school hours?

David McGruer: Again, such a question can only have meaning in a society where citizens are subject to government force in educational.  The moral role of government is to protect the rights of citizens – that’s all – and so I am in favour of the separation of religion and state.  Thus, in the current non-free state-run schools there should be no religious component except for the study of religion, if individual parents and students so choose.  As a small step towards such separation, prayer sessions should not be permitted during school hours.

Question 3. Should students in publicly funded Catholic schools be allowed to form Gay-Straight Alliance groups?

David McGruer: In a free society, citizens are permitted to do, join or form anything that does not cause or promise physical harm to others.  Thus, students should be free to form any group they wish, as long as it does not violate another’s right to liberty or property.

Question 4. The Ministry of Education took two years filled with extensive public consultations to create a current, relevant, and appropriate sex-ed curriculum. Do you support implementing the recommendations that the provincial government proposed in 2010?

David McGruer: Such a question can only arise when government operates a monopoly in education and effectively forbids and outlaws parental choice in educational institutions and curriculum content.  Sex education is a sensitive subject for many people and curriculum content should be subject to parental choice.  I am not in favour of having the government force any particular content upon students, so there is no way to objectively answer this question, just as there can be no way to answer a question about any item in the curriculum unless it is about my children’s education.  In a monopoly system, curriculum content is determined by political pull instead of parental choice, and all of it necessarily is a violation of rights.  I am in favour of restoring parental freedom in education and removing government coercion from this crucial industry.

Question 5. Do you support amending the Assessment Act to remove the requirement that municipalities must grant full property tax exemptions to religious organizations, even though other charitable organizations are entitled only to a 40% rebate?

David McGruer: In a free society all contracts and exchanges are voluntary and property ownership is absolute. Thus, I am opposed to the use of government force against citizens through coercive property taxation.  In the current system there is little relationship between the actual use of services and the property tax paid.  In the current mixed economy, if there is to be a property tax then it should be applied objectively and as fairly as the system permits, at least approximating the services used, and there should certainly be no discrimination between institutions based on religion.

Question 6. Do you support eliminating all religious invocations at the start of legislative sessions?

David McGruer: In a free society, religious beliefs are a matter of individual choice and are neither imposed on nor denied to anyone.  This implies a complete separation of religion and state and so, by extension, religion should not play any part in government ceremonies.


Greg Oliver
Canadian Secular Alliance

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