News Agencies – July 19, 2011
Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty says schools, with input from their communities, are best equipped to answer the controversial question of how to accommodate students’ religious beliefs and practices. The premier’s comments come as a handful of faith-based groups say they will picket Toronto District School Board headquarters next week. The groups, which include the Jewish Defence League of Canada, the Canadian Hindu Advocacy and the Christian Heritage Group, are upset that a middle school in the city’s north end has provided Muslim students cafeteria space for a weekly prayer service, saying the board showed favouritism to Islam.
Mr. McGuinty told reporters that “when it comes to faith matters I have faith in school boards, I have faith in schools themselves to make judgments that they think are appropriate in their particular circumstances.” The Toronto school board has defended Valley Park’s decision, noting that schools have a duty to accommodate students’ religious beliefs under the Ontario Human Rights Code.