Montreal

Quebec to forge ahead with ethics class for kids

There is no chance Quebec will delay its plan to introduce a new religion and ethics class in grade schools next year, despite calls from the opposition who say the curriculum is short on Christian content.

There is no chance Quebec will delay its plan to introduce a new religion and ethics class in grade schools next year, despite calls from the Opposition who say the curriculum is short on Christian content.

Quebec Education Minister Michelle Courchesne said Wednesday the government will roll out the curriculum in September 2008, because the class on world religions and moral values reflects the province's modern face.

"The parents are choosing the religion, not the state," Courchesne said. "I think Mr. [Mario] Dumont is out of touch with reality."

The Action Démocratique du Québec leader had pressed the government this week to suspend the religious curriculum because it is not Catholic enough, and in his view does not reflect the spiritual identity of a majority of Quebecers.

"We think it is disconnected from the reality of Quebec," because it contains too much material on Islam and other religions, and not enough on Christian denominations, Dumont said on Wednesday. The ADQ isn't opposed to children learning about other religions per se, but would like to see Quebec schools teach material that mirrors its society.

"Having an open mind doesn't mean you have no roots, that you're just lost in the middle of the ocean, ready to arrive in any harbour anywhere because you know all the religions," the ADQ leader mused.

"You need somewhere that is where your identity is rooted."

Dumont's comments follow a recent CROP poll that found a majority of Quebecers would prefer to have the option of choosing between Christian catechism classes and the proposed ethics course for their children, instead of having a curriculum imposed. The poll was published in Montreal newspaper La Presse.

The divisive religion and ethics curriculum resurfaced at the Bouchard-Taylor commission on reasonable accommodation this week, where Jean-Claude Turcotte, the head of the Catholic archdiocese of Montreal, said he doubted faith-based courses would ever be reinstated in public schools.

Individual parishes are taking good care of educating young people in the Catholic faith, Turcotte told CBC News.

now