View from the North
                    December 13, 2007

By Mark Wegierski

     If G.K. Chesterton's observation, "Education is 
simply the soul of a society as it passes from one 
generation to another," is correct (as his observations 
usually were), then both the soul and educational system 
of Ontario are in jeopardy.

     The education offered in public schools in Ontario 
is clearly neither "value neutral" nor designed to 
reinforce traditions derived from home and family.

     The real crisis in the province's educational system 
today -- as opposed to the common complaint of 
"underfunding" -- is the overwhelming atmosphere of 
political correctness, which deprives students of genuine 
ethics and morality and contributes to ever-deepening 
nihilism among young people.

     The typical large, urban high school is set, by many 
teachers and education-policy administrators, on a course 
of relentless war against "normal," "mainstream," and 
"majority" outlooks. To a large extent, these trends were 
launched by the Dennis-Hall Report of the 1960s. This 
official provincial paper, written by two self-described 
"progressives" in the first flush of Sixties radicalism, 
proposed massive reforms of public education, and its 
attitudes have now worked themselves into many areas of 
life in Ontario.

     History is one of the most important programs of 
study for the future of society. It gives people a 
coherent sense both of the past and of a national, 
collective sense of meaning and purpose. A society with 
no real sense and love of its past is as abnormal as an 
individual who has no cherished personal memories.

     In the last four decades, the relatively small 
amount of history taught in the public high-school system 
tended to portray traditional Canada, Britain, and the 
West in general as a repository of racism, sexism, and 
oppression. Little that was positive was said about the 
Canada that existed before 1965, even less said in praise 
of the monarchy. Canadian history and national identity 
were essentially defined as the struggle of various 
"designated groups" against various kinds of oppressive 
majorities. Young Canadians of British or European 
descent were systematically stripped of a coherent 
community identity and taught to hate themselves and 
their history.     

     Indeed, in the last four decades, anything smacking 
of a genuinely conservative or traditionalist outlook has 
been largely removed from the public educational systems 
in large urban areas.

     The educational system did not provide a 
counterweight to all the media and pop-culture trends. 
Even if some students could be found in the typical, 
large urban high school who are capable of intelligently 
expressing a conservative or traditionalist viewpoint, 
they have not been encouraged to do so. On the contrary, 
they were generally derided by their teachers and peers. 
The education offered was often directed to bleaching out 
any vestiges of social conservatism and traditionalism 
that could be identified among the students. The 
educational experts, were they so inclined, would be 
hard-pressed to point to even one large, urban, public 
high school in which a lively and truly diverse political 
debate takes place today.

      In this same period, many of the norms, ethics, and 
standards in the educational system have been jettisoned 
in the name of "permissiveness" and the attack on the 
so-called authoritarian personality. The general 
breakdown of manners and school and social discipline is 
evident. Curiously, while death-metal music, voodoo, and 
body-piercings are permissible, the expression of any 
more-robust or substantive traditionalism is seen as 
"hateful" or "insensitive" -- and accordingly proscribed.

     Also, in the last four decades, virtually all forms 
of traditional Christianity have been hounded from the 
educational system. The Christian ethos, which could 
provide a fortifying inoculation against many types of 
nastiness and incivility, has been jettisoned. The result 
increasingly is a vacuum that encourages nihilism and 

     Many educational bureaucrats in Ontario have twisted 
the purpose of public education away from its proper 
mission and into furthering a pronounced left-liberal 
agenda. They have tried to put into practice, overtly and 
covertly, a highly anti-traditional, anti-historical, and 
anti-religious set of educational policies. They are 
deliberately trying to control the shape of the future by 
controlling the education of the young.

     From the founding of the Dominion of Canada in 1867, 
education was the responsibility of the respective 
provinces, and Catholic primary- and secondary-school 
systems have been largely publicly funded. Despite -- or 
perhaps precisely because of -- public funding, Catholic 
education in most parts of the province differs little 
from that offered in the public education system.

     In 1985, Progressive Conservative (PC) Premier Bill 
Davis promised to extend full public funding to Catholic 
secondary schools above grade 10 in Ontario; the result 
was an electoral disaster for his party, presumably 
because it alienated the core Protestant support -- 
although the winning Liberal party did in fact fulfill 
that promise. In the 2007 provincial election campaign, 
John Tory, the leader of the PC party -- reacting to the 
perceived inequality of public funding for a Catholic 
school system -- promised to fully publicly fund all 
faith-based schools (including Jewish, Muslim, and Hindu 
schools) -- but this also turned out to be an electoral 
disaster for the PCs.

     A system of tuition tax credits for parents of 
children in private schools probably would have been far 
more effective in improving education and more defensible 
to the electorate as a policy plank for the PCs than the 
proposal to fully fund faith-based schools while 
requiring those schools to teach the provincial 
curriculum. That curriculum could encompass such issues 
as sex education and the inculcation of "anti-homophobic" 

     In May 2001, the provincial government of 
Progressive Conservative Mike Harris introduced 
legislation allowing for substantial tuition tax credits 
for parents of children attending private schools. 
However, with the triumph of Dalton McGuinty's Liberals 
in the 2003 provincial election, that legislation had 
been shelved.

     Although the Ontario Progressive Conservative party 
is probably unwilling and unprepared for a raw battle 
over ethos, perhaps some reinforcement of real diversity 
and pluralism of belief in the educational system could 
occur as a result of a "cost-effectiveness" and "value 
for taxpayers' money" approach.

     The enactment of tuition tax credits for private 
primary- and secondary-level schooling would probably 
result in increasing numbers of truly diverse, private 
educational institutions. This could be enough to 
persuade the educational-policy administrators and 
radical leaders of unions to behave more responsibly 
-- and with greater commitment to true intellectual 


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Copyright (c) 2007 by Mark Wegierski. All rights 
reserved. Permission has been given to the Fitzgerald 
Griffin Foundation to distribute and post this article.

Mark Wegierski is a Toronto-based writer, social critic, 
and historical researcher and is published in major 
Canadian newspapers, as well as in U.S. scholarly 
journals. His writing has also appeared in Polish, 
British, and German publications.

Mr. Wegierski holds a B.A. (Hons), M.A. in History, and 
M.L.S., all from the University of Toronto, as well as a 
graduate certificate in creative writing from Humber 

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