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Aviva Rubin Headshot

An Open Letter to Kathleen Wynne

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Dear Kathleen,

I'm sorry I was so quick to imply that you were unlikely to take on the fight to end the too-long entrenched, unnecessary, and costly funding of two school board systems in Ontario.

Everything I know about you so far tells me you are thoughtful, smart, conciliatory and someone who will stand up to injustice. As a woman and an out lesbian you have already defied the public opinion that suggested this province was not ready for you.

When marginalized people step into positions of power it's hard for them to make decisions that may be ethically right but risk votes and accusations of being that left-wing black guy who crushed our God-given right to own assault rifles to play with at shooting ranges and, oh ya, protect ourselves. Directly following the joy I felt when Obama was inaugurated in 2009, was the understanding that never in American history did a president have so far to fall, with everyone watching, and so many hoping he would fail.

So I understand that confronting such a fraught issue head-on is a hard thing to do. But you are no longer the Minister of Education. You are the ultimate decision maker, the Premier, who is currently facing harsh economic decisions and a labour dispute with teachers that is hacking away all the richness from our children's education and deeply souring their experience. I know. I'm the mom of two young boys, and I've watched them lose many things they love to this fight.

All this, we are told, is a matter of scarce financial resources that the Government wants to ensure go into the classroom and not into teachers' salaries and benefits. (A distinction I find flawed, but that's another article.) Has no one considered the exorbitant cost of managing two huge bureaucracies, one of which is religiously-based, dogma-driven and thus exclusionary?

One of the comments on my last article suggested that Mr. Erazo stop wasting taxpayer money forcing the Catholic school system to legally defend itself, and just put his kids in public school. As I already said, they are in public school -- the really good one, in their neighbourhood. But I agree that the Catholic board shouldn't have to waste public funds defending itself.

And much as I'd like them to, they don't have to change church dogma on homosexuality or reproductive choice. But knowing who they are, knowing what they believe, knowing Catholics are no longer at risk of religious persecution in this province, how can we continue to think it's acceptable to use public money to educate children according to Catholic beliefs?

So here you are at the helm of this brilliantly diverse province, a woman, and a lesbian, who, it is worth noting, could never be at the helm of anything in the Catholic church, with the power to do something about this.

Don't let us down Kathleen. If they could do it in Catholic Quebec, we can do it here. Don't fall back on empty political rationales like the Constitution Act or the will of the people. Do the right thing. Rip off the Band-Aid. I believe the majority in this province, some Catholics included, will rise to support you.

With hope for the future,

Aviva Rubin

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