Letter to Wladyslaw Lizon, MP

Renton Patterson, from Civil Rights in Public Education (CRIPE), sent an email to Wladyslaw Lizon, MP for Mississauga East-Cooksville, to congratulate Lizon for his successful efforts to have April 2 proclaimed as Pope John Paul II Day in Canada. Whether Lizon is to be congratulated or criticized for his efforts is a matter of opinion. However, CRIPE’s Patterson is to be congratulated for his effort to get some positive results out of Canada setting aside a day for a religious figure and a head of a foreign power:

You are certainly to be congratulated for your successful efforts to have April 2 proclaimed as Pope John Paul II Day.  It is a fitting tribute to one who has set an example to the world.  With one exception.

In an article in “The Catholic Register” of December 18, 2014, you are quoted as saying of Pope John Paul II:  “He promoted the values of peace and tolerance along with his strong stand against human rights violations. These are values that resonate deeply in our country and with Canadians. This was the motivation of this legislation.”   I have underlined a section of your quote because, as you are no doubt aware, on November 5th of 1999, the United Nations Human Rights Committee [UNHRC] declared Canada/Ontario in violation of Article 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights [ICCPR].   With the agreement of all provinces, the ICCPR was acceded to by Canada on May 19th, 1976 and entered into force on August 19, 1976 with no reservations or statements.  As such, Canada, and the provinces, pledged to abide by the terms of the Covenant.  The violation, to this day in 2014, remains a blot on Canada’s reputation.  See copy of UN document, below.

The violation of Article 26 of the ICCPR is due to the government of Ontario’s policy of providing public monies for the complete financial support of the Roman Catholic separate school system, but not for the school system of any other religion or religious denomination.  As the result of a complaint by a citizen victim of this situation (Waldman v. Canada), a quote from the UNHRC’s decision states, in part:  “…the Committee observes that the Covenant does not oblige State parties to fund schools which are established on a religious basis.  However, if a State party chooses to provide public funding to religious schools, it should make this funding available without discrimination.”

Since this U.N. condemnation of Canada/Ontario happened during Pope John Paul II’s period in office, I am not aware of any communication by him, or his Canadian representative, to any religious or governmental authority in Canada or Ontario, to press for elimination of the discrimination.  Either John Paul II’s efforts, or those of Benedict XVI, or Francis, were not publicized, or were not even made in the first place.  However, if such a presentation to the Ontario or federal governments had been made by a Pope, or his representative, it would surely have been made very public so that the reputations of the Popes, with regard to human rights, could not only be maintained, but strengthened.

I would be pleased to be advised if any efforts have been made by a Pope, or locally on a Pope’s authority, to eliminate the systemic religious discrimination in the province of Ontario due to the exclusive public funding of the Roman Catholic separate school systems.  Otherwise, the occasion of Pope John II Day this coming April could turn out to be an embarrassment for you, personally, and to the Roman Catholic Church as a whole.  But maybe it’s not too late, you, as an MP and as a Conservative, could press the Government of Canada to live up to its pledge to the world, and to we Canadians, to abide by the Covenant’s terms which Canada pledged to uphold.

If I can be of any help, please advise.

Sincerely, Renton Patterson

Lizon probably won’t contact Renton Patterson for help to save Lizon any embarrassment. Lizon is not likely to be embarrassed since he is the one who suggested John Paul II Day to honour a man who was pope when

some very disturbing things . . . happened in the Vatican. . . .The most disturbing thing though, in terms of things that have happened at the Vatican, is how poorly they have handled the matter of sexual abuse, sexual abuse against thousands of children by thousands of priests.

Designating April 2 John Paul II Day in Canada is an insult to all Canadians who were sexually abused by Catholic priests, abuse that was and is ignored and covered up by the Vatican. It is an insult to Canadians who realize that Lizon’s private member’s bill is merely a bid to cozy up to the Catholic Church, and more reprehensible, it is a bid for votes.

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