Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of February 14, 2000
WCR Letters to the Editor
Gov't programs undermine role of private charity
Re: "Use budget to help the poor - churches" (WCR, Jan 24)
I would like someone to explain when Canada's Church leaders absolved me of my responsibility to be charitable. I need someone to explain why it is no longer my responsibility to help my neighbour, rather it is the responsibility of our government to write laws that force Canadians to be charitable.
The government uses the threat of its police to enforce the law that says I have to work until July just to pay my taxes. The representatives of 12 Canadian churches that came together this month say that the state should then spend that money to help the less fortunate in society.
Wouldn't it make more sense to lower my taxes so that I am left with enough money that I, and every other Canadian, could then increase our voluntary charitable donations?
Furthermore, wouldn't it be better if Canadians didn't have to work such long hours just to pay their tax bills, and were instead left with some spare time that they could use to help out right in their own communities?
There is an argument that can be made for the forgiveness of debts owed by Third World countries, but suggesting that 1.5 per cent of our GDP go to new social programs means that Canadian taxpayers will have to pay almost $14 billion in taxes for this suggestion alone. (The 1999 federal budget predicted a nominal GDP of $910 billion for 1999.)
I am no biblical scholar, but from what I understand the Bible teaches that we should all help our neighbours. It does not teach that we should spend our time calling for the government to help our neighbours.
Canadians would be far better off if less time was spent calling for more and more expensive social programs, and more time was spent actually caring for society's less fortunate.
Inaccuracies need to be corrected
Given the complexity of the issue it is not surprising that a number of inaccuracies occurred in the news story ("Sturgeon Valley sets up Catholic district," WCR, Jan. 24).
On Jan. 18, the Roman Catholic ratepayers in the Sturgeon Valley Bellerose geographic area voted to establish a Roman Catholic Separate School District (not division as reported).
It is assumed by those who voted, and probably correctly so, that this separate school district will be regionalized with the Greater St. Albert Catholic Regional School Division. The formation of the adjacent Guilbault Roman Catholic Separate School district in June 1998 (not Gibault in 1997) serves as a precedent.
A parent is quoted in the news story as saying: "I think as a parent I should be able to send my child to any school I want." Since 1994, parents in Alberta have had that right. Open boundaries now prevail.
However, depending on distance, parents may be obliged to provide transportation to the school of choice. By forming a separate school district, the parents in the Bellerose attendance area assure themselves of transportation to the Greater St. Albert Catholic schools they wish their children to attend - or rather to the schools they will be directed to attend.
The real issue becomes not freedom to choose a particular school, but rather obtaining transportation to that school.
The financial impact of students leaving one jurisdiction to attend school in another is given in the report as approximately $4,000. It is not indicated that this is per student.
In fact that sum refers only to the basic instructional dollars grant per student. When other per student grants are added including maintenance and operation, transportation, administration and others, the funding lost per student is approximately $5,600.
If 25 students are removed from a system the loss in funding is approximately $142,000 per annum. This is a significant amount for Sturgeon School Division which, like most rural school divisions, is experiencing little or no population growth.
The legal issue alluded to in the news report requires some clarification. This refers to the unusual situation of a separate school district formed with the sole intention of regionalizing with a public school district, thereby creating the extraordinary situation of having two public school jurisdictions existing in the same geographical area, in this case Sturgeon School Division #24 and Greater St. Albert Catholic Regional Division #29.
As reported, considerable frustration is felt by parents outside the Bellerose separate school boundaries.
The decision made by the ratepayers in the Bellerose school district has implications for the schools and the students of a much larger geographic area.
Yet current legislation does not allow those outside the very limited four miles by four miles boundaries any voice in the matter.
"Unity service show ecumenical strength" is the front-page story of the WCR issue in which the above separate school district formation is reported.
I and other Roman Catholic public school trustees as well as many trustees of other Christian denominations serving on rural school boards would welcome the day that all Christians would unite in promoting a presence of God in our public schools.
Rather than choosing to separate, I would encourage parents to work with their local schools in rural school divisions to create the Christian environment they seek, beginning by working to have prayers, religious exercises and instruction included in the school day - all of which are allowed by the School Act.
The benefits for the school system as a whole as well as the larger community would be many. A wonderful opportunity for ecumenical action is there.
Sturgeon School Division #24
Pray for Morgentaler's conversion
In this week's WCR, you wrote about "Hanoi Jane on the road to Damascus" (Charles Moore, WCR, Jan. 31). I'm a member of Red Deer Pro Life and I can think of another person I'd like to see on the road to Damascus, Henry Morgentaler.
I was perusing the Canadian Encyclopedia and who should pop up, none other than Henry Morgentaler. Usually I don't bother reading about him, but what hit me was his date of birth, March 19.
March 19 is the feast of St Joseph, the patron of the universal Church and also the patron saint of Canada.
Since we know how powerful prayer is, how much more powerful would it be if the whole country said a prayer for the conversion of Henry Morgentaler on his birthday, the feast of St Joseph.
We saw how prayer put Bernard Nathanson on the road to Damascus. Don't you think it's time for Henry to take that same road?
I'm planning on contacting Archbishop Thomas Collins and the Canadian Conference of Bishops with this idea. What I'm hoping for is a letter from them to the parishes in their dioceses.