A Case for Keeping the Lord's Prayer
(March 4, 2008 - Queen's Park Report) Last week I expressed my disappointment over Premier Dalton McGuinty's commitment to replace the Lord's Prayer at Queen's Park. Opening the day's proceedings, the Lord's Prayer is a tradition of Parliament in Ontario that has been used since 1878. With the decision to eliminate the Prayer, this Liberal government has set Ontario on a slippery slope that could lead to the further erosion of the traditions and values this province was founded on.
The recital of the Lord's Prayer was instituted by Canada's Founding Fathers to represent the overwhelmingly Christian population of Ontario. Similarly, the Prayer maintains a particular relevance to the Judeo-Christian principles that form the basis of our legal system and consequently are pertinent to the law making that goes on inside the legislature.
Why then, does the Premier want to replace the Lord's Prayer? In a letter written to provincial party leaders, McGuinty contends that the increasingly diverse religious composition of this province warrants the removal of the Prayer.
Although the religious makeup of Ontario has changed significantly since 1878, McGuinty should not be surprised to find that the overwhelming majority of Ontarians identify themselves as Christians. In fact, the most recent Statistics Canada census highlights that 75% of Ontarians identify themselves as Christian. On the other hand, only a total of 8% identify themselves as Hindu, Sikh, Muslim, Jewish or Buddhist.
The Prayer is also symbolic of Ontario's Christian heritage. If McGuinty wants to change the use of the Lord's Prayer based on the idea Ontario is now more diverse and therefore no longer Christian he will need to explain Ontario's flag, its shield and its coat of arms. The flag has not just one cross on it but three, St. George's, St. Andrew's and St. Patrick's. Ontario's shield and coat of arms are both topped with St. George's cross, long a symbol of England and the English crown and also associated with Christian soldiers marching into the crusades to recover the Holy Land.
For a man that fought so adamantly against the issue of faith-based schooling, I find it strange that McGuinty is now exploring increasing the number of religions represented in the opening proceedings of the legislature. He has, yet again produced a position that is all together confusing.
As Ontarians we are extremely lucky to live in a safe and thriving society, built on the strength and determination of generations before us. Our forefathers instilled in Ontario a set of traditions and values that have helped make this a prosperous, tolerant, and admired province. Although small, the replacement of the Lord's Prayer will establish a precedent for others willing to challenge these traditions and values. For the benefit of future generations and in respect to those that came before us, lets keep the Lord's Prayer at Queen's Park.