Friday, September 21, 2007

Ontario Election Debates

The first leader's debate for the upcoming Ontario election went down yesterday.

- Watch the big three party leaders go at it here if you missed it.

- Also, you can get Green party leader Frank de Jong's debate responses here. He had to record his responses while watching the debate on TV all by himself since the Greens aren't big and powerful enough to get invited to the prom (ie debate).

Hopefully, if the citizen committee's recommendations on electoral reform are passed (referendum to occur on the upcoming ballot) the Greens will win a more representative share of seats and get to be heard alongside the cool kids in future electoral campaigns. Despite their traditionally poor electoral success, they represent unheard, but I think fairly common Canadian values.

As for my two cents, I could get behind any party that isn't proposing further cultural segregation of children by funding more religion-specific public schools. This is the ass-backward proposal of the Conservatives, whereas the Liberals and NDP are against this type of move. The Greens in my opinion the most progressive of all parties on the issue, calling for end to all public funding of religion-based schooling (meaning the elimination of the existing Ontario Roman Catholic school board).

In this day and age it's kind of frustrating to see that attention is directed at this issue instead of many other important ones (ie modernizing public transit to move Ontario cities away from our ridiculous reliance on cars). However I think the issue will linger as long as we in Ontario continue to hypocritically fund Roman Catholic education, a policy that really just does not belong in our secular and integrative multi-cultural society.


Alfred Russel Wallace said...

Is this still a science blog??

Bayman said...

Science had a down-week. Or maybe it's just me...

kamel said...

I'm not convinced that faith-based school funding is a real issue and not just one invented by the political parties themselves. (To distract from the fact that they don't have any real ideas worth discussing?? Maybe I'm just being cynical.) Are people actually up in arms about this? Don't get me wrong, I'm sure on paper it's something people care about - if you conducted a poll I wouldn't be surprised to find people voicing an opinion on the issue one way or another but that's quite different from making it a central election issue when, as Bayman points out, there are many other important ones that should be discussed.

I could be totally wrong. I certainly don't claim to have my finger on the pulse of the nation when it comes to school funding, but it almost seems politically daft to cetnralize a campaign on this issue. If I had to hazard a guess, I would venture that the people most vociferous on the subject would be the ones in danger of losing their current funding (read: Catholics), while most of the rest are apathetic or fine with the status quo. So all this campaign can really do is alienate voters and take air time away from important and real issues.

Bayman said...

I agree this is probably not an issue that is important to most people, nor does the average Ontarian want to see any real change on this issue. I think most people are happy sending their kids to the public schools we have, nor would many realistically suggest that it's time to dismantle the Catholic school board.
Like you, I also suspect that the Conservative's promise to fund more religious schooling is nothing more than a cheap political tactic designed to use McGuinty's personal background (the fact that he was educated in the Roman Catholic system) against him.

However, the Conservative position for me is cause for concern simply out of utter fear for the damage they could do to Ontario's richly diverse social fabric if they won a majority (a real possibility) and were free to act on their promise to increase the cultural segregation by further compartmentalizing children in religious schools.

But, as you mention, a political debate dominated by fear doesn't really allow for a very productive discussion of real issues.