John Tory, leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservative party, announced Oct. 1 that if elected he will put the issue of funding faith-based schools to a free vote in the legislature.
The Ontario Alliance of Christian Schools (OACS) says the free vote is a needed clarification for Tory’s legislature process on this proposal.
“Mr. Tory’s principled proposal deserves reasonable consideration in a constructive environment, free of the fear-mongering and misrepresentation that have characterized this campaign,” said Adrian Guldemond, OACS executive director, in a news release.
The free vote will be an opportunity to make the facts public, says the OACS. Legislature and the public will be able to view the proposal to fund faith-based schools “in the light of this province’s rich heritage of inclusion.”
Barb Bierman, provincial spokesperson for Parents for Educational Choice, has released a video with her reaction to Tory’s proposal. She says the free vote on the issue of faith-based school funding will allow MPP’s to vote individually or for their constituencies rather than follow the party line.
“While some of you may be concerned and see this as backpedaling or eleventh hour election-winning strategy, this doesn’t really change anything for parents and supporters of faith-based schools,” says Bierman.
“John Tory’s statement means that there will be additional stages of activity for parents,” she says.
Bierman says it is important for parents and supporters who believe in this election issue to show their support in their vote on Oct. 10.
“In order to have any further discussions on how and when public funding could be extended to faith based schools, the party proposing the idea must be elected,” she says.
If elected, parents and supporters will need to communicate the importance of the issue to their local PC MPP to influence the free vote, says Bierman.
“While many of us see the obvious injustice of the current system of education funding in Ontario, putting the matter to a free vote in the legislature will also allow for the much-needed debate to clarify the value of this proposal to end injustice,” says Bierman.