Montreal Gazette - Canada December 17, 2010
Yolande James says subsidized daycares can't teach religion
Have until June 1 to phase out any religious teaching or risk losing subsidies
BY KEVIN DOUGHERTY, QUEBEC BUREAU, MONTREAL GAZETTE
MONTREAL - Family Minister Yolande James announced a directive Friday ordering all operators of Quebec’s $7-a-day subsidized daycares to cease all religious instruction to children in their charge.
Daycares now dispensing religious instruction will have until June 1, 2011 to phase out religious teaching and if they do not comply they could have their government subsidy “suspended, reduced or cancelled.”
In an interview James drew a parallel with Quebec’s public schools, where religious instruction was ended, making them open to children of all origins.
“There needed to be clarification of what our subsidized daycare services would be allowed or not allowed to do,” James explained.
“As far as subsidized daycares are concerned, we cannot allow what’s called the transmission of faith or all teaching of religion within our subsidized daycares.”
But the ban on “teaching a belief, a dogma or the practice of a specific religion” in a daycare does not ban “cultural diversity or traditional or historical activities,” the minister said.
“Christmas trees, the menorah, and all of these symbols are allowed,” she said.
In issuing the directive, James is following up on a statement by her predecessor as family minister Tony Tomassi, who said in March that religious instruction in subsidized daycares would no longer be tolerated, after media attention focused on daycares dispensing Jewish and Islamic instruction.
Two religious daycares The Gazette contacted Friday would not comment on the directive.
James formed an advisory panel, to guide her in drawing up the directive, which included daycare associations, representatives of the religious daycares and a specialist in religion.
She recalled that in 1997 when Quebec started its subsidized daycare plan, her department agreed to subsidize existing religious daycares.
“Now we are at a different time,” she said. “The society has evolved. So has the community.”
She said the family department did not have a policy on religious instruction and did not have inspectors checking whether religion was being taught. But now her department has increased the number of inspectors.
Asked whether the constitutionality of her directive might be challenged in court, James said she is confident she is on solid legal ground.
“This directive was not in any way improvised,” she said.“It took the necessary time to look at he issues in all ways.”
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National Post - Canada December 30, 2010
Quebec worships the idol of secularism
by Father Raymond J. de Souza | National Post Columnist
It’s never too early to close the minds of the young. That’s the thinking of the provincial government in Quebec, which announced earlier this month a ban on religion in subsidized daycare centres.
Subsidized daycare is a central part of social policy in Quebec — parents pay $7/day, and provincial government pays the rest, which is about $40/day. The government of Quebec is now increasing its vigilance on what dangerous ideas the toddlers might be exposed to.
Just before Christmas, Family Minister Yolande James announced regulations that would seek to ban religion instruction from daycare centres that take government money. Given that four-year-olds are unlikely to be studying theology, the Quebec government is out to stamp out religious expressions — prayers, songs, bible stories, manger scenes and even explanations for religious dietary practices.
Strangely, you can have a manger scene — you just can’t tell the children who the figures are. The scene is cultural, but Jesus is religious. In a Jewish or Muslim daycare, presumably the children could keep dietary laws but not be told why. Children could decorate a Christmas tree (cultural) but not sing Silent Night (religious). It’s easy to mock the silliness of Quebec society when it comes to religion — the nanny-state cracks down on the nurseries! — but violations of religious liberty are no laughing matter. Quebec’s antipathy to expressions of Jewish and Islamic faith, combined with a deep self-loathing of its Catholic heritage, makes for a toxic combination.
“In Quebec, secularism has become the new religion,” said Daniel Amar, executive director of the Quebec Jewish Congress.
That’s almost right. It’s secular fundamentalism that the Quebec government practises, touched by a totalitarian impulse that brooks no dissent, even from little children who might need help in colouring their religious pictures.
Our editorial board argued on Tuesday that Quebec’s massive subsidies for approved daycare spaces has effectively crowded out non-subsidized daycare. The economic argument is clear — subsidize one form of child care over all others, and soon there will effectively be just one form of child care. Daycare has been de facto nationalized in Quebec, and the national religion of intolerant secularism will now be imposed.
The cultural question is more troubling. So serious is Quebec’s government about imposing its view on all children that, concurrent with the new regulations, it will triple the number of inspectors to enforce them. Quebec will soon have 58 inquisitors dropping in on daycares to ensure compliance. One can only imagine the scene when the inquisition arrives, sifting through the sandbox in search of clandestine religious items. And who will write the code for the bureaucrats, ensuring that miscreant daycare workers don’t mention that la fête nationale was once upon a time Saint-Jean-Baptiste?
There is an economic cost to big government. There is also a cultural cost, if everywhere government goes alternative values and viewpoints must retreat. If government goes everywhere, including the care of babies, then not even babies are entitled to hear views that dissent from government dogma. Quebec has long since abandoned the neutral state in favour of the aggressively secular state. Where the Quebec state goes, religion must retreat, and there is no limit on where the Quebec state will go.
The heart of every culture is its attitude to the big questions of human life and existence. That’s why a sensible people leaves culture in the hands of the churches, the artists, the musicians and the writers. Only a deeply insecure society entrusts culture to bureaucratic inquisitors. And only bureaucratic inquisitors see threats emerging in the cradle.
Totalitarian states have always sought to control the kindergartens and the schools and the youth groups, all the better to ensure that the influence of parents on their own children is attenuated. There is the hard totalitarianism that comes by force of arms. Soft totalitarianism comes by way of subsidies, where first the family is embraced by the state, and only then is it suffocated.
The educational world in Quebec does not leave much room to breathe. On religious and cultural matters, the consensus position, as defined by the curriculum apparatchiks, must be taught without exception in all public schools, private schools and even at home. Until now, the preschoolers had escaped the stifling grasp of government. No longer.
As our editorial pointed out, the actual educational results of Quebec daycare are poor. Quebec’s nationalized daycares don’t teach little Quebeckers very much. Now they will ensure that the youngsters know even less.
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COMMENT by Perry Bulwer, January 2, 2011:
He expresses his fear that the government is "imposing its view on all children", which is simply a lie to deflect from the reality that it is religions like his that do that. They impose their views on children through the use of lies, spiritual fears and threats.
He then states: "Totalitarian states have always sought to control the kindergartens and the schools and the youth groups..." Again he distorts and inverts the truth. Just check out some of the links included with this story. Totalitarian religious groups often resort to intellectual abuse to indoctrinate their children before they can learn to think critically and for themselves.
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