Ontario Finance Minister debates critics
OMNI Television taped the debate and aired it the following day. Having the broadcast equipment there made the event/debate very impressive. The format was that all of the participants, in order of representation at Queen’s Park, would speak for six minutes and then take questions from the microphone on the floor. They would finish the session with a three-minute wrap-up.
The first speaker was the Honourable Greg Sorbara who started the discussion regretting the time spent on the "religion-based education" issue and then spent an inordinate amount of his six minutes on "religion-based education". His discussion, like that of Premier Dalton McGuinty seemed to be that he supported public education and Leader of the Opposition John Tory did not.
The Honourable Tim Hudak (the Honourable comes from his being a minister in the previous PC government) then explained the PC position based on the fact that if the (610,000) Roman Catholics can have their "faith based religion" funded by the government, so should the others (53,000) without affecting the (2.1 million) the public system. It is a fairness issue: if you allow one, you should allow the others. Hudak also pointed out that he (along with McGuinty and Sorbara) was once a Catholic school student. Hudak pointed out in conclusion the broken promises of the McGuinty regime and fended off Sorbara’s defensive attempts.
Michael Prue also said that he supported the public school system and truly left it at that. He then went on to say that Ontario has lost too many jobs, that there is too great of a difference between the rich and poor, and that the McGuinty Liberals haven't made good with their promises regarding hospitals and health care.
Hearns explained the importance of ecology and that the Liberal or the PC parties really hadn't dealt with the issue head on.
When the question period started Estonian Life posed a question to Sorbara, "I agree with the Liberal position on public education, so when are you going to get rid of the Catholic school system?"
"We're not going to, they're mandated by the British North American Act," replied Sorbara tersely.
"In those days women weren’t allowed to vote either," retorted Estonian Life.
"Oh, that’s a Conservative argument," finished off Sorbara angrily. At that point the moderator stepped in and moved the questioning further.
Later, when the debate was over Sorbara came to this writer and tried to further explain their position but in a convivial mood.
The question was one of semantics. The Liberals are talking that they are for "public schools" yet they include Catholic schools, which are "faith based schools". No problem, but call it by its true name.