Back in June, CCSTA President Marino Gazzola and Executive Director Julian Hanlon travelled from Ontario to Saskatchewan to meet with federal politicians to discuss one thing: the Theodore Case.
This comes after the Court ruled that the government must stop funding non-minority faith students to attend separate schools (read: CCSTA’s Statement on the Ruling).
As such, CCSTA wanted to demonstrate its support to the Saskatchewan Catholic School Board Association.
So, they arranged to get in front of politicians to talk about the situation and what it means – and could mean – for Catholic education opportunities in the province.
Working alongside Matt Triemstra from Ensight Canada, Mr. Gazzola and Mr. Hanlon had many meetings with individual MPs and caucus members from Saskatchewan.
“We first provided them with information about CCSTA in general, and more specifically to inform them of the background and current status of the Theodore matter,” explains Mr. Gazzola. “We were successful on both counts.”
They met individually with Senator David Tkachuk, (Conservative Senator); Stephanie Delorme and Andrea Faubert, (Stakeholder relations and policy advisor, respectively) from the office of The Official Opposition Leader Andrew Scheer; Jessica Morrison, Issues manager for Ralph Goodale, (the only Liberal member from Saskatchewan); and NDP MP Erin Weir.
“As a group, we were also fortunate to have the opportunity to speak to members of the Conservative caucus, and to two other Senators, during their regular caucus meeting,” adds Mr. Gazzola. Those MPs included Kevin Waugh, David Anderson, Brad Trost, Kathy Wagantall, and Kelly Block, along with Senator Denise Batters and Senator Raynell Andreychuk. Senator Tkachuk was also present at the caucus meeting.
“Overall – with one exception – the responses were extremely positive and very supportive of our Association and certainly of Catholic education, support for our system, and support for choice for parents’ right to choose as well as religious rights. That was very evident,” says Mr. Gazzola. “Many of the members that we met with asked pointed questions, and were very interested in our discussions. Several members indicated a personal or family connection to the Catholic education system.”
Mr. Gazzola and Mr. Hanlon say they were pleased with the results from their meetings, and the Ensight advisors also provided positive feedback from the experience.
Mr. Gazzola cited his appreciation to both Mr. Hanlon and CCSTA Executive Assistant Jean Montminy for coordinating these meetings, and to Mr. Triemstra from Ensight for his assistance and advice.
“It is our opinion that we left everyone with a positive opinion of CCSTA and put our organization in a good position going forward, particularly in the event that we need to call on MPs for future assistance,” says Mr. Gazzola.
As for the Theodore Case’s current status, it has now been taken to the Provincial Court of Appeal by the Saskatchewan Catholic School Board Association. The association’s legal counsel has advised that the initial appeal would take between eight to 12 months, with an appeal before the Supreme Court taking anywhere from three to five years.
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