Chris Selley: Hate religion in public schools? Yell at your MPP, not your school board

Chris Selley on the violent opposition of some for religious accommodation by allowing prayers to take place in Peel Region schools, rather than a more measured discussion of the form and limits of any accommodation:

But the OHRC’s interpretation of the Ontario Human Rights Code makes it plain: only cost and health and safety may stand in the way of a religious accommodation. Wiffly concepts like “secularism” may not. So whether you’re a perturbed secularist, vexed feminist, scandalized menstrual-rights advocate or fulminating Islam-hater, there’s no point aiming your complaints at the local school board. You should call your MPP.

That probably won’t get you anywhere either, frankly. Secularism and feminism are all well and good, but the New Democrats are unlikely to align with the Qur’an-stompers. The Liberals think religious accommodations are the Pope’s pyjamas. And after John Tory’s faith-based schools debacle and Patrick Brown’s sex-ed switcheroo, the Progressive Conservatives are scared stiff of this stuff. (Opposing prayer in public school isn’t exactly home-run conservative policy, anyway.)

Nevertheless, it’s not Ontario’s educators you should be bothering — it’s Ontario’s legislators. They made this world. The schools are just living in it.

Source: Chris Selley: Hate religion in public schools? Yell at your MPP, not your school board | National Post

Newly elected Peel police board chair sets a fresh tone | Toronto Star

Plain language:

“It doesn’t affect brown people and white people — it affects black males.” With that sharp rebuke of a report on police street checks — insisting that it missed the essence of the controversy — the man now heading the oversight of Peel Region police made clear that change is coming.

Minutes after Amrik Singh Ahluwalia stood Friday morning and moved to his new seat following his unanimous election as chair of the Peel Police Services Board, he joined other members calling for change within the country’s third-largest municipal police force.

The first issue: frustration with a consultant’s report commissioned by police chief Jennifer Evans.

“It was offensive,” said Brampton Mayor Linda Jeffrey, who just moments earlier had nominated Ahluwalia for the job as chair. “It was supporting the status quo,” Jeffrey said of the report, put together and presented by Louise Doucet and Liz Torlee, joint managing directors of TerraNova, a strategic marketing company.

Ahluwalia’s leadership could spell trouble for Evans if she continues to challenge the board on the controversial issue of police street checks, known as carding in Toronto. Unlike the outgoing chair, Laurie Williamson, who sided with Evans on the issue, Ahluwalia says the practice is harmful and has to stop.

“It disproportionately effects one segment of the society,” Ahluwalia told the Star after the meeting. “Three-and-a-half times the probability of stopping black men — it effects them significantly.”

In September, the Star published six years of street check data, obtained from the force under freedom of information laws, that showed black individuals were three times as likely to be stopped by Peel police as whites.

The next day, Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie, Jeffrey, Ahluwalia and Norma Nicholson won a 4-3 vote to stop street checks, requesting that Evans take immediate action. She refused, claiming they did not have authority over her on operational matters. Anti-carding advocates, including the Law Union of Ontario, have refuted this claim. In October the provincial government announced it will ban the practice of random street checks.

Sophia Brown Ramsay, programming director for the Black Community Action Network of Peel, attended Friday’s meeting and is thrilled to have a new chair who supports her group’s goal to end street checks.

Source: Newly elected Peel police board chair sets a fresh tone | Toronto Star

Small towns hope to replace exodus to cities with new immigrants

A further reflection of the spread of diversity from the larger cities to further afield in Ontario. But still within the context of the “greater” GTA economic space:

“Recent settlement trends reveal that economic regions other than the GTA are receiving a larger share of Ontario immigrants and that the proportion of secondary migration to non-Census Metropolitan Areas is increasing,” according to a 2012 report from the Rural Ontario Institute.

Peel Region is a good example: Mississauga was always a hub for new Canadian but Brampton to its north has expanded rapidly over the last two decades because of new Canadians, reaching ever further into what was once agrarian land in the city’s north. Now that population is starting to head further out.

“This may reflect a combination of factors including that employment/income prospects, or housing affordability may in fact be relatively better in these regions and/or that increasing diversity in smaller communities is contributing to confidence that religious or cultural differences are less of a barrier to a sense of belonging than they once might have been perceived to be,” the report states.

Small towns hope to replace exodus to cities with new immigrants.