Newfoundland Constitutional Amendment: Canadian Bishops Speak Before the Senate on Term 17

Thursday, December 18 1997

Ottawa (CCCB) — The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops finally appeared at a special committee of the whole of the Canadian Senate this morning to explain its position on the proposed constitutional amendment concerning education in Newfoundland.

Several weeks ago the CCCB had been invited to make a presentation on the Term 17 amendment before the Joint Committee of the House of Commons and the Senate studying the matter, but at the last minute the Canadian Bishops were informed no time was left to hear their brief. Denied the possibility to explain the position of Canada’s 130 bishops to the joint committee, the CCCB then forwarded its brief to all the members of the House of Commons and the Senate. Subsequently, during debate on the matter in the Senate, it was decided to invite the CCCB to make its presentation to a special committee of the whole.

Bishop Anthony Tonnos of Hamilton, chairman of the Episcopal Commission for Christian Education, and co-treasurer of the Conference, accompanied by Bishop-elect Douglas Crosby of Labrador City-Schefferville, CCCB General Secretary, presented the Catholic Bishops’ position to the Senators. The presentation emphasized the fundamental rights and responsibilities of parents in matters of education; the lack of competence of a government to formulate religious education curriculum; and the contribution of Catholic education to society.

The hearing, which was to have been 45 minutes long, lasted nearly 90 minutes.