NORTH SIMCOE COMMUNITY NEWS - April/May 2008 - 5

The Lord’s Prayer
by Garfield Dunlop MPP

-- Part of Ontario’s Parliament

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s MPPs, we commence each working day in the Legislative Assembly with the Lord’s Prayer. But now, Premier McGuinty wants to “look at how we can move beyond the Lord’s Prayer to a broader approach that is more inclusive in nature.” According to McGuinty, “It’s time for us to ensure that we have a prayer that better reflects our diversity.” We’ve all heard the arguments in favour of “updating and broadening” our approach before. The main problem with Mr. McGuinty’s approach is his belief that if we want to be relevant in today’s culturally diverse Ontario, we must turn our back on our historic traditions. According to McGuinty, our traditions have nothing whatever to tell us about such important values as inclusiveness and tolerance in our society today. This is where I beg to differ. To go forward on the basis that every time we want to be culturally inclusive we have to throw something out that has been part of our culture over the years, is itself polarizing. Rather than being divisive, I feel the Lord’s Prayer is inclusive.

Part of respecting the tradition of the Legislature is keeping the Lord’s Prayer. That doesn’t mean we wouldn’t be open to other prayers being added, but the assumption that we would eliminate the Lord’s Prayer would not be acceptable to us. When the first Parliament was established in Britain, it was held at Westminister in the cathedral itself. The altar was removed and the Chair of the Speaker was placed on the spot. This is why, throughout the parliaments of the English Commonwealth, whenever a Member enters or leaves the Chamber, we bow toward the Speaker’s Chair. Parliamentary deliberations were done “in the sight of God” and oaths of allegiance were taken in the same way. Members of Parliament were entrusted with a responsibility for which they not only had to answer to before Crown and Country, but also before God. Parliamentary sessions always opened with prayer and the Lord’s Prayer in particular. Our Ontario Parliament was first established in 1793. Upper Canada’s first Lieutenant Governor John Graves Simcoe tabled anti-slavery legislation, as the first order of business. Simcoe’s inspiration for these progressive laws came directly from his mentor, the celebrated British abolitionist and Member of Parliament, William Wilberforce. The vision of these men was inspired by a shared biblical world-view reflected especially

in the Lord’s Prayer. Our parliamentary tradition of the Lord’s Prayer was inherited from Britain and Royal France through the Loyalists. The Loyalists themselves were Canada’s first multicultural immigration including the English, Scots, Germans and French. They all began each and every one of their hard-working days with the Lord’s Prayer. It was no wonder they expected their political representatives to do the same. Today, the Lord’s Prayer is an integral part of such diverse backgrounds as Armenians, Assyrians, Copts and Ethiopians, Russians, Romanians and Poles, variously representing Catholics, Orthodox and Protestants of every rite and denomination. As the elected representative for the riding of Simcoe North I am opposed to the removal of the Lord’s Prayer. I have made available a petition at my offices in Midland and Orillia for

anyone interested in supporting the tradition of the Lord’s Prayer at the Legislature. As well, I am pleased to report that our Leader, John Tory has asked me to sit on the all-party committee that will review McGuinty’s plan to have the Lord’s Prayer removed from the Legislature.

Warminster Legion Public Speaking Contest

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tudents from Notre Dame Catholic School, Marchmont Public School, and Warminster Public School participated in the Warminster Legion Public Speaking Contest in February. Sierra Bianco won for the Intermediate Level and Elysia Jackson won for the Junior Level. These winners went on to the next level for Zone E4 in Elmvale in March. Photo: Back row, L to R: Anastasia Langiano, Murray Fallis, Brian Webb, Katelyn Ayers, Nicole Couture. Middle Row, L to R: Emily Ayers, Jessie Gleed, Sierra Bianco. Front Row, L to R: Kaitlyn Bergsma, Georgia Lee, Alysia Tripp, Elysia Jackson. Sitting: Emily Cleavely. Missing from Photo: Meghan Wilson.

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-photo by Laura Proctor