Ottawa Taxpayers Fund Catholic School Trip to Anti-Abortion Rally

In Ottawa, where taxpayers pay for Catholic education, the Catholic School Board decided to pull kids out of school today… so they could go march at an anti-abortion rally:

Kids march at anti-abortion rally (via Dawg’s Blawg)

High school students from Ottawa Catholic schools will have time off to join the anti-abortion protesters. Communications officer Mardi de Kemp said the board pays for buses to the event.

Sure, some of the students may have gone just because they wanted the day off, but even if this was a glorified field trip, it should disturb all of us — especially Canadians — that public money was spent on something like this. If a privately funded school wanted to do something like this, it their right. But why should public money be spent like this?

Dr. Dawg echoes that sentiment:

This is, or should be, intolerable to Ontarians in 2013. How dare Catholic school boards use tax money to send kids out of the classroom to attend a religio-political demonstration? Can you imagine the howls if any other religion had access to public monies to abuse in this fashion?

Sadly, he can because this isn’t the first time something like this has happened. This special treatment for one unique faith has been going on for a long time.

Only one religion — Roman Catholicism — is so privileged in this province. Time to scrap the Separate School system as the outmoded, patriarchal relic that it is — and get those kids back into the classrooms where they belong.

Canadians: Let us know how we can help get these students a real education.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • William Bell

    My school brought a bunch of kids to that. :/

  • decathelite

    Even if that life has no hope of living past the first few hours after birth, or it will need chronic medical attention for the rest of its life, you must keep it alive sparing no cost! But we don’t want to offer any help towards your costs, so…LOOK OVER THERE!

  • Veronica Abbass

    Hermant says,

    “Canadians: Let us know how we can help get these students a real education.”

    You can help by asking your Ontario readers to sign this petition for

    “One Publicly-Funded School System in Ontario”:

  • Free

    Ottawa Taxpayers Fund Catholic School Trip to Pro-Abortion Rally. And? The youth get to see both sides of possibility. That is what education is about. Be sure that aside from this Anti-abortion info session they are getting the Pro-Abortion, women’s health, spiel culturally as well.

  • Charles Honeycutt

    The anti-choice movement is predicated on nothing but lies. It’s sad that you consider forcing people to spend money to teach lies to children to be a good thing.

    Your final sentence demonstrates that you have no idea what the word “equivalency” means, nor grasp the concept of it.

  • Canadian Atheist, eh!

    Most of us actually get a pretty good education if we want one or if our parents want us to get one. Mind you, I’m not a product of the Catholic school system, so I can’t speak firsthand about that experience. Naturally, I disagree with taxpayer funding of religious indoctrination and routinely declare my support for public schools when participating in census and other surveys.

    But, frankly, all y’all Americans have bigger problems with religion than we do. MUCH bigger. Thanks for reporting on the story, but I don’t think you need to worry about doing anything about it.

  • Guest

    What lies are the anti-choice movement spreading?

  • CreeElder

    This is known as “Canada’s Dirty Little Secret”.

  • Rodney Barnes

    That life begins at conception, which it doesn’t. An embryo (as defined by The Academy of Medical Sciences) is nothing but a parasite but one that does not normally destroy it’s host, just like so many others. If you were to remove the embryo from it’s host prematurely the embryo will die. Only when a life form can exist outside it’s host environment does it cease to become a parasite and become something more. This is the classic definition of a parasite. If you take issue with it, then get a science degree and change the minds of those who are more learned than the rest of us. Mind you, I would never have an abortion were I female and since I’m not female I must remove myself from the equation. I will not make choices for women since I am not one and I believe men should remove themselves from legislation entirely and let women decide for themselves. Unless of course you believe that women have no business deciding for themselves what they want to do with their own bodies.

  • GodlessPoutine

    Yes, Ontario needs to drop this and have a single publicly funded school system.

  • GodlessPoutine

    I wouldn’t be so sure of that. The current government along with some Christian fundamentalists and thinktanks in high places are pulling strings. I find there is a disturbing sense of security up here that could lead to complacency.

  • GodlessPoutine

    Indeed. This is not the first time and it won’t be the last that Catholic schools have used public money to support their own religiously based agendas:

  • FBG

    It’s a sick society that thinks of its unborn children as parasites. The ole “clump of cells” argument is no longer that convincing, so we need new dehumanizing propaganda for young girls to absorb.

  • RobMcCune

    Lies about the effect on a woman’s health, lies about embryonic development, lies about what the procedure actually entails, lies about the chances of pregnancy occurring due to rape, and lies about the action and efficacy of contraception.

    Those are just the broad categories that I can think of off the top of my head.

  • allein

    My former roommate teaches in a Catholic school; they bring the middle school kids (I forget if it’s 7th and 8th or just 7th grade) to the March for Life in Trenton every year. It bothers me enough that they’re bringing 12 year olds to that in the first place, but the first year she went as a chaperone, a lot of the kids were very upset by the images on the some of the signs, because no one had bothered to let them know what to expect to see.

  • CreeElder

    Awesome blog. I’m your newest fan.

  • Mariève Lapierre

    I’m pro-choice myself, but I can’t really agree with that definition of “life”, at least in the legal sense… I mean, according to it, wouldn’t people in vegetative states or in a coma be considered mere parasites?

  • LoudGuitr

    Screw the Catholic Church. Safe abortion on demand is here to stay. So there.

  • SphericalBunny

    A foetus is technically not a parasite, since it’s the same species, however a foetus has a parasitical relationship with the woman. Subtle but important difference. Also, life doesn’t ‘begin’ at conception; it continues albeit in a new form (sperm and egg are also alive, yet masturbation + periods are not murder).

    To FBG however; letting women and ‘young girls’ (I can only presume you mean under 16-yr-olds, who are at greater risk of having their lives and bodies damaged by pregnancy) know that they are allowed to have the same amount of bodily autonomy as a man or a ‘young boy’ (funny how this usage seems to make the age range more like pre-12-yr-old) is the opposite of ‘dehumanising propaganda’.

  • DougI

    Local Catholic schools here in Wichita often would take school kids to protest at Dr. Tiller’s for school credit. No doubt they would love it if they could protest on the taxpayer dime. One thing for sure, in Ottawa the taxpayers shouldn’t have to use education funds to promote the activities of terrorists.

  • DougI

    Oh, are the Catholic schools showing the beneficial aspects to abortion? That’ll be news.

  • DougI

    Apparently you’ve never talked to an Anti before. It’s safe to say that when an Anti is talking they are lying, kinda like you and your feigned ignorance.

  • chicago dyke

    a machine is not a ‘host.’ it is a machine, with no feelings, no willpower, no desire for independence, no intelligence. there is nothing about parasites and machines that go together; a machine can’t be sad or bored or happy. or infected by a biological infestation which it must bring to term.

    you may not like it, but the simple fact is some women don’t want to be pregnant. for whatever reason. it’s not anyone’s decision to tell them they must, or that they must agree to a ‘reason’ why they must. if this comparison works for some, as it does for me, we deserve the right to act accordingly. just as those who believe forced pregnancy is wrong because the bible gives encouragement for abortions says so.

  • Mick

    They dared not close down St Vincent De Paul stores and offices and force the workers to the protest – because the workers are adults who might retaliate. But kids in a school are easily manipulated.

  • Yanik Crépeau

    I am Canadian but I don’t live in Ontario. In Canada, the public education system is financed only by the provincial governments (and local taxes). So, the Canadian federal government has no say on how the education system is handled in this country.

    For historical reasons, one of them was the desire of French speaking parents to have their children educated in French, a “separate” education system has been created. Most French speaking people were catholic at that time and the catholic Church was the only group able to create and handle education in French. The British North America Act (Canadian Constitution) had provision to protect religious minority school board (in Montréal and Québec), so, the “separate” school system were religious-based and not language-based.

    Here in Montréal we used to have two school board, one for “Protestants” and the other for the “Catholics”. Actually, the “protestant” one was for English-speaking children and “catholic” one was for French-speaking children (with few school exceptions). That religious division has created lot of problems and it took about 30 years of political battle to have the religious school boards replaced by secular ones.

    During the last years of the Montreal Catholic School Board (about 70% of students), the Catholic members of the board have prevented decent sex education, ban AIDS prevention activism and imposed their dogma to everyone. The Catholic Church and its allies have their hands tainted with the blood of young gay boys (at that time) who have been contaminated by HIV and now die of AIDS due of lack of prevention.

    In 1998, the religious school boards have been abolished in Québec. That required an amendment to the Canadian Constitution to repeal the antiquated provisions of the British North America Act. The education secretary for Education (Ministre de l’éducation) of Québec at that time, Mrs Pauline Marois, has been elected premier of Québec last year. She is openly atheist but her religious belief or non-belief is not matter of public debate (aka: no one care)

    I strongly support the idea of One Publicly-Funded School System in Ontario ( as a way to put an end to the nuisance of religion in school systems.

    As Volaire used to write, Écrasons l’infâme!!! (let’s crush the infamous)

  • Hat Stealer

    You say that the mothers life may be endangered? Well that’s the price you have to pay for your irresponsible copulations! What’s that? We were the ones who told you to copulate irresponsibly? That’s because semen is sacred, just as that malformed blob jammed in your fallopian tubes is sacred! I don’t care how physiologically impossible it is, you must give birth or die trying!

  • Mark Hunter

    And there are some of us in Ontario working to eliminate the funding for the Catholic School System (and one Protestant School Board). My local MPP support removing funding and our new premier, an openly gay woman, may be convinced. Unfortunately it’s a minority government so no radical changes without a full mandate.

  • Canadian Atheist, eh!

    Be so sure of what? That the US has bigger problems with religion than Canada does? Really? This story isn’t about some blowhard superintendent who thinks he can flout the Constitution, or know-nothing school board trustees trying to “teach the debate,” or a public school principal forcing students to attend a proselytizing assembly. It’s the Catholic School Board doing what Catholics do, and any parent who sends their kid to a Catholic school should not be surprised. If they don’t have a choice (i.e. if their community doesn’t have an actual public school), then that’s another issue, and a bigger problem.

    Point: taxpayer funded Catholic schools is a problem with the tax code, not education per se, contra Hemant’s clearly well-intentioned but misguided “how can we help these students get a REAL education” remark at the end of his post. That strident mischaracterization is what I was responding to, especially when the problem of religion in public education is clearly more virulent and destructive in the US.

  • Matt D

    “The youth get to see both sides of possibility”
    I did not see any evidence they were presented “both sides”. Where did you see this occuring?

  • Paul Grimm

    A question for atheists. Are you pro abortion in the case of selecting sexual preference?

  • Paul Grimm

    Are you pro abortion in the case of selecting sexual preference?

  • LoudGuitr

    Don’t understand the question.

  • Paul Grimm

    What about based on sex? Say you had three boys and you wanted a girl?

  • Paul Grimm

    If you are pro abortion like you say in your first post then and you take 3.4% of the population defines as LBGT and there have been roughly 50,000,000 abortions since Roe vs. Wade then technically you are for the abortion of 1,700,000 LBGTs.

  • LoudGuitr

    That is insanely flawed logic.

  • LoudGuitr

    I’d hope for a girl. Abortion doesn’t enter into it.

  • RobMcCune

    Bait and switch, your first question was about intent. What the real issue would be in you hypothetical scenario would be homophobia, not abortion.

  • Paul Grimm

    Not true. It is legal in all states to abort homosexuals. And scientist have found genetic markers for homosexuality

  • decathelite

    Very few atheists are pro abortion. We are pro choice. If a woman wants to get an abortion because she wants a boy instead of a girl, I will not tell her to get an abortion, I will tell her she has choices.

    I think all abortion is wrong, including sex selective abortion, but it’s not my decision to force on someone else. Having said that, if the Planned Parenthood in my city has any reason to suspect that an abortion is wanted based on gender of the fetus, they will not do it.

  • Paul Grimm

    Why do you believe that abortion is wrong?

  • decathelite

    It’s think it’s going to be difficult for me to answer that question in this comment format without it turning into a huge wall of text, feel free to ask me that question via e-mail: decathelite at gmail dot com

  • Carmelita Spats

    It is NO ONE’S business why a woman terminates a pregnancy just as it is NEVER YOUR business why she chooses to use an IUD or take the pill which kills babies as per the teachings of the pedophile church:

    Incidentally, more Evangelicals agree that the “pill kills”…Al Mohler, former head of the Southern Baptist Convention, agrees…

    If your wife wants to sniff vaginal mucus like a dog in heat, as per the FAILED Rhythm/Billings/Creyton Method, that is HER business. If I choose to create a Dachau-In-Utero where “tiny people” are routinely starved, I dare your pedophile priests to yank the IUD out. Perverts.

  • Carmelita Spats

    The real tragedy is the grisly, quotidian, genocides of “tiny people” due to the sheer volume of slutty women using chemical contraceptives…Why won’t ANYONE think about women walking around with an IUD, starving all those fertilized eggs that cannot implant themselves? Oh the horror. Should we call Homeland Security for vulva checks? Am I a uterine terrorist? The pill…it….KILLS!!!

  • LoudGuitr

    This is utter nonsense. By the time a child’s sex can be determined, it’s already late in the pregnancy, probably beyond the legal abortion limit. To determine a child’s sexuality in the womb has NEVER been done. Ever.

  • Anna

    I believe that’s false.

    This spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood Federation of America also told The Huffington Post that the organization condemns seeking abortions on the basis of gender, but its policy is to provide “high quality, confidential, nonjudgmental care to all who come into” its health centers. That means that no Planned Parenthood clinic will deny a woman an abortion based on her reasons for wanting one, except in those states that explicitly prohibit sex-selective abortions (Arizona, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Illinois).

    In any case, why should sex selection be forbidden when no other reason for abortion is forbidden? While there are real problems in some countries that have skewed gender ratios due to sex selective abortions, that’s not a problem in the United States, and it’s not Planned Parenthood’s (or the government’s) business whether a woman terminates because of the sex of the fetus, because she doesn’t want to be pregnant, because she can’t afford to raise another child, etc.

  • Anna

    Really, well, I think it’s a sick society that would force all women and girls who don’t want to be pregnant to endure forced pregnancy and birth, like something out of an Orwellian nightmare.

  • Kevin O’Donnell

    Premier Wynne has said “no” to challenging the current system. Her Education Minister recently got in the media saying if an election were held today she’d be out knocking on doors in support of maintaining the Catholic school system.

    At a party level, if you want to see Ontario move to a 100% secular system, the Greens are your only choice.

  • Little Magpie

    Entirely typical; what could have been an interesting discussion about the Canadian educational system, the entrenchment of *one* type of religious education due to historical issues, etc etc, has gotten derailed into the usual comment-spew about abortion.
    My opinion FWIW: Yes, on the notion that the original “majority culture” public schools were ALSO originally religious-based… the Constitution specifies that the historical religious minorities have publically funded separate school systems (Protestant in Quebec, Catholic in Ontario and the Atlantic provinces, Newfoundland seems to have its own grandfathered-in system; I don’t know what the situation is with the other provinces and territories that came in after Confederation).

    What’s happened (in ON and QC, anyway, I don’t know as much about other provinces) is that the public schools have become completely secular; so now it’s not guaranteeing the rights of a minority religion as against the majority religion, but having ONE religion get to have a publically funded separate school system, as against the norm being secular schools.

    AND the Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees non-discrimination based on religion. I know non-discrimination doesn’t quite mean “treat all groups equally AS GROUPS” but I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to say that the spirit of this would lead to, either have public funding for separate religious schools of ALL religions, or for none.

    That’s my nickel’s worth – not 2 cents since we are eliminating the penny! :)

  • Rodney Barnes

    It’s not a lie to wish that “all” people should and do have a choice of what to do with their own bodies. You’re just going to have to get used to that. The Supreme Court ruled in our favor. Period. Nothing you can do about it. Funny though how that boys/men don’t have this problem (people telling them what they can and can’t do with their bodies) yet it’s the grumpy, old, white men on committees who make decisions for females which goes on to show how little men think of the opposite sex.

  • Nebuladance

    I grew up in Canada, and went to school through the public school system. My question is, do tax-payers no longer check a box that indicates which system their portion of tax money goes to? My parents always selected public, not separate because that was the school system we were in. But we had friends from church (used to believe) who went to the separate schools and their parents selected that on their tax forms. I asked one of my friends one time why they went to the separate schools when they weren’t Catholic. He said it was because his parents, who were immigrants, believed that the separate schools were academically better. But he suspected it had more to do with the fact that the separate schools required uniforms which was more like how school had been for them in their birth countries.
    If people in Ontario do still select on their taxes to support the separate schools, it could be argued that they agree with Catholic teachings, and would support the use of their tax money for a pro-life rally. My friends was not Catholic as I mentioned, but his family was Christian, and they certainly supported the pro-life position. So I am curious how those who chose to support the separate schools feel about this? Has anyone taken a poll of just this population? If most are found to support this use of their tax dollars, perhaps the move should be initiated to make the separate schools private parochial schools outside the tax system. That way, those who really do feels this way can pay for their child’s schooling directly.