School board: notwithstanding clause not permanent solution

By Chris Vandenbreekel/CKOM News Staff
May 2, 2017 - 8:57am

Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools (GSCS) is joining other separate boards pushing for the province to appeal a controversial court decision banning government funding of non-Catholic students in the Catholic system.
Trustees are still being asked to encourage their electorate to write to MLAs about the issue, despite the government announcing they will invoke the notwithstanding clause to bypass the court decision.
Board Trustee Tom Fortosky, who represents GSCS at the Saskatchewan Catholic School Boards Association (SCSBA), said there's still a need to appeal, since using the clause isn't permanent.
"We want to see the decision reversed," he said. "If that happens, then everything stays the way it is in perpetuity."
He added the decision to invoke the so-called "override" clause does give the Catholic boards a five-year reprieve, but there's concern over the need to continually vote on the decision.
"It becomes a political exercise to renew the legislation," Fortosky said.
Other board members thanked the premier and education minister for invoking the clause, but also expressed the need to continue with the appeal process.
"We want a fair and equitable decision," Trustee Ron Boechler said. "Not just for us, but for anyone who wants to educate their children in Saskatchewan."
Cost was another reason for asking the government to appeal.
Trustee Jim Carriere raised concern over the perception of the board paying the bill, saying his constituents had some fears about the amount of money that could be spent.
Fortosky told the board the appeal cost is estimated at $125,000. That cost would double if the case were taken to the Supreme Court of Canada.
He said the more constituents who write to the government, the better the chance of the province getting involved.
A letter is being sent to parents of children in the Catholic school system explaining the situation, and offering a sample letter to send to their MLAs.
In the meantime, the SCSBA is leading a fundraising campaign to gather the money needed for the court battle.


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