|Ontario Education Minister Laurel Broten. (QMI Agency files)
TORONTO - Ontario education minister Laurel Broten gave the thumbs-up on Monday to a Catholic high school west of the city that plans to open a Muslim prayer room for some of its students.
Broten was on hand at St. Jude Catholic School in Toronto on Monday when she was asked about Mother Teresa Catholic secondary school in London and its opening of a second-floor prayer room for the two-dozen Muslim students it has in its population.
While being Catholic is a requirement to attend a Catholic elementary school in Ontario, it is not to attend a secondary school of that faith.
"As I understand it, in London they have decided that is something they'd like to offer students," Broten said. "Obviously, that is something they think will make students feel welcome in their school."
But Broten, who was at the Toronto elementary school to both tout the beginning of all-day kindergarten there, and to urge teachers not to involve students in their fight with the Ontario government over teachers' recently-legislated pay freeze, reduction in sick days and two-year limit on striking, was vague when answering if she was surprised a Catholic school would accommodate Muslim students with a prayer room, given Catholic boards' resistance to the passing of legislation that allows students to form gay support groups.
Broten merely stated that all schools are expected to adhere to Bil 13.
"We've had dome concerns raised by some in Catholic education ... But it is my understanding that they are going to fully adhere to Bill 13, that we will not have a challenge to Bill 13."
At least two public schools in the GTA faced heated criticism recently for opening prayer rooms for Muslim students.
During her visit, Broten also accused teachers of unjustifiably involving students in the fight over the legislated wage freeze by pulling out of extracurricular work as a means of protest.