Ottawa, Ontario A constitutional legal team handed Ontario legislators a giant olive branch yesterday in which to resolve what has become an extremely controversial issue of bullying in schools. Bill 13, http://ontla.on.ca/web/bills/bills_detail.do?locale=en&BillID=2549 otherwise known as the Liberal government’s Accepting Schools Act, was unveiled late last year in the wake of two highly-publicized teen suicides; that of Mitchell Wilson and Jamie Hubley. It was created to address bullying in schools, but in the 18-plus hours of debate and public hearings since its inception, has instead incited social shoving matches and [has CP] oozed with political intrigue. [ Note– this act has not passed but is being considered by the Standing Committee as of the date and time of this posting CP ]
At the Standing Committee on Social Policy hearings in Ottawa, legal counsel headed by Albertos Polizogopoulos made a presentation on behalf of the Coalition for Parental Rights in Education, summarizing the concerns with the bill and offering solutions to enable the bill to be inclusive of all children and avoid future constitutional challenges.
Mr. Polizogopoulos communicated that no child should be bullied; however, he cautions that the legislation as presently written is “constitutionally problematic ”. A 43 page brief and 342 page reference document was presented to legislators, outlining legal issues that would likely arise from the legislation and offering recommendations for amendments.
Given only a 15 minute time limit, Mr. Polizogopoulos drew the attention of the committee to the most controversial aspects of the bill. Problems highlighted in the legal brief included conferring special status on certain groups of students by mandating only certain anti-bullying clubs, implementation of the Ministry Equity Policy without more input from school boards, and violating the right to freedom of religious assembly and expression by groups who rent school facilities.
Amendment proposals were then put forth, with the intent of “producing a version of Bill 13 that more fully advances the goal of preventing bullying incidences in Ontario schools while reducing the likelihood…of expensive taxpayer funded litigation over Bill 13” . Bill 13 public hearings are now closed, and committee members will spend two days debating amendments before presenting the Bill back in the legislature at the end of the month.
http://www.scc-csc.gc.ca/case-dossier/cms-sgd/dock-regi-eng.aspx?cas=32186 [ Case history– Mr. Polizogopoulos representing Evangelical Fellowship of Canada and Christian Legal Fellowship CP]
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