Please join us at

Get the posts on my new blog by e-mail. Enter your e-mail address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

New posts on

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Is this what now passes for religious journalism?

Today's episode of Little Miss Know-it-All: Trying to tell the truth in a news story.

Nope, for once this is not about Name of Paper Withheld. I was surfing the Internet today when I discovered this lovely "news" story from LifeSiteNews. If you've ever explored my links list, you can probably see the connection.

This is one of those "news" stories that is just awful. Actually, don't click on that link. I don't want to increase their hit count.

Canadian Territorial Court Rules Catholic Schools Must Accept Non-Catholic Trustees

By John-Henry Westen {NAME OF TOWN WITHHELD}, NWT, May 25, 2007 ( - The Supreme Court of the Northwest Territories (NWT) ruled Wednesday that the {name of town withheld} Catholic School Board may not refuse non-Catholics to sit as trustees governing the board.

Yup. That's right. But this story starts lying at the very first word. See that all-caps town name? That's called a dateline. It's supposed to tell you which town the reporter filed his story from. If it says Name of Town Withheld, it means that the reporter actually travelled to Name of Town Withheld for this breaking story. Somehow I don't think that's what happened here.

The issue brings to the fore the increasing trend to deny Catholics in Canada their rights to Catholic education supported by the education tax dollars of Catholic rate-payers. Already in Newfoundland and Quebec the right to Catholic schooling supported by education taxes from Catholics has been removed.

Nope. That's wrong. Nobody is denying Catholics their right to Catholic education. John-Henry is just trying to get you all upset.

In the current case, Justice J.E. Richard of the NWT Supreme Court ruled that when in 2006 the Board Superintendent tried to nix the candidacy of two non-Catholics who were seeking to run for election as Catholic school trustees, he was outside the law. The returning officer rejected the Superintendent's notice that non-Catholics Amy Hacala and Debora Simpson were ineligible to run for election, ignoring the crucial role of Catholic trustees to ensure the Catholicity of their schools, a role Hacala and Simpson would highly likely not be equipped or motivated to fulfill.

Lovely. From the way John-Henry describes it, you would think that the superintendent was in charge of the election and the bossy returning officer imposed her will on him. Could someone please remind me: who's in charge of an election?

One of the pair, Amy Hacala, was elected to sit on the Catholic School Board. The Board however took the returning officer's decision to court for a ruling. Of note, Brendan Bell, the Attorney General of the NWT sided with the returning officer in denying the Catholic Board the right to limit its controlling officers to those of the Catholic faith.

Hmmm. Why is it noteworthy when the government responds to a court action that names the government as a respondent? That's not noteworthy, that's a line in the job description.

Lawyer Phil Horgan, the President of the Catholic Civil Rights League wondered if during the election, Catholic electors were informed that two of the candidates were non-Catholics.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! Indeed, he might wonder! The way to confirm or deny his theory, of course, would be to ask someone who lives in Name of Town Withheld. And believe me, this was all we heard for several weeks before the election. Name of Paper Withheld covered it extensively, with a nice hatchet job on one of the non-Catholic candidates right on the front page.

Horgan analyzed the ruling finding that it failed to honour long-standing denominational rights in the Territory. "This technical ruling which distinguishes the NWT from provinces which enjoy these denominational rights," said Horgan, "ignores the settled history of these school boards."

"The judge says that the residential requirement did not extend to a Catholic ratepayer requirement for eligibility to stand for election," explained Horgan. "However, the judge does not rely upon any evidence to suggest that non-Catholics have served as trustees of Catholic school boards in the NWT in the more than 100 years of their existence."

That's nice. If Mr. Horgan had decided to talk to anyone in Name of Town Withheld before he started to "wonder" about the election, he might have discovered that both non-Catholic candidates were former trustees on the board.

Horgan concluded, "To then assert that it was the settled intention of the drafters of this legislation to allow non-Catholics to serve as Catholic school board trustees ignores that history."

Has this fellow even read the court decision? Because the judge went back through the history of the eligibility criteria in pages 9-13.

While the school board has not yet officially announced an intention to appeal the ruling, sources at the school board told an appeal is likely. Local Bishop Denis Croteau was unavailable for comment on the ruling.

I don't know why I would expect more from LifeSiteNews, but somehow I did.