Quebec to remove religion from public daycares

If the CRTC policed blogs like it does radio, I’d fail the 30% Canadian content aspect. Not today, though. Today a third of my posts are on Canadian topics. haha. Don’t talk to me about tomorrow though…

So yeah, this report out of the Globe and Mail:

The Quebec government’s new policy for excluding religious instruction from publicly subsidized Quebec daycare centres is a solution without a problem – and will involve an attempt to draw an distinction between religion and culture that will turn out to be impossible in practice.

Yolande James, the Minister of Families, announced the policy last week. It is meant to prevent the public funding of “activities that have the objective of teaching a belief, a dogma or the practice of a specific religion.” The element of intention is tricky and could be far-reaching. On the other hand, children no older than five are hardly likely to be taught theology or religious law. The fine print of the policy tries to mark out some fine lines, and in the end is quite accommodating of particular customs, dietary practices and the “cultural aspects” of religious festivals.

I’m of the opinion that religion should be left up to the parents, not those who mind the kids during the work day. Those people have enough shit to do keeping the shit off the toys and teaching manners and basic spelling and how to share and whatever other things they help kids with when parents can’t do all the raising of their offspring. I guess people could argue they wouldn’t have time to teach their kids religion then either, but I’d argue back that belief in a god isn’t as important as knowing to cover your mouth when you cough.

The Parti Québécois says the policy will be easy to evade, and wants the government to take a harder line – which shows how much this is a minor skirmish, or a tactical manoeuvre, in a larger ideological battle about secularism, ethnic and religious diversity, Québécois identity and “reasonable accommodation.” Ms. James estimates that 2,000 daycare spaces may be affected. The decision is apparently a response to media stories last winter about religious Jewish and Muslim daycare centres.

Were those day cares funded by their temples and mosques and their own patrons or were they wanting government money to foot the bill for what would inevitably be indoctrination into those faiths by keeping those kids segregated and out of secular care?

Meanwhile, the Quebec government subsidizes private schools, many of them religious, which comply with certain requirements, for about 30 per cent of their costs. And a crucifix is still prominently displayed in the National Assembly, a specific rejection of the Bouchard-Taylor commission’s recommendation of strictly neutral public space for the legislature and the courts. By contrast, the daycare centres, though mainly publicly funded, are privately operated.

A list of provinces with governments still funding faith schools as of 2007 is available here. It was an election issue in Ontario that year and is still an issue now. I think there are rumbles in Saskatchewan, too, but nothing overly organized. The Peterborough Examiner notes a petition is running in Alberta regarding the need for a one-school system instead of what they’ve got currently.

The crucifix is an annoying affectation that should be in a government facility but I suppose with every other thing to be pissed at, its removal is a low priority.

Ms. James’ directive, taking effect in June, is more likely to create additional bureaucratic nuisances than to nip in the bud any nascent religious fanaticism among the very, very young.

Maybe so, but there’s no denying that children are impressionable. Bizarre ideas and beliefs they form at a young age, before they’ve got any sense of logic or knowledge of how the world works, take root pretty easily in those little heads. They don’t know enough to question what they’re told and their innate instinct is to trust their elders no matter what, even when their elders are completely and totally cracked. The less religious mumbo-jumbo they’re exposed to, the better off they’ll be. They can still learn all about how to be nice and kind and good without adding the notion of the supernatural into it.

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