Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Haldimand "Lord's Prayer Petition"

The following petition is from MPP Toby Barrett. I usually get Toby's updates but they have been having some problems with their e-mail software.

I received this as an e-mail from Mayor Trainer and thought that many would be interested in this petition. Just as I was finished writing this blog and ready to post, I received another e-mail from Mayor Trainer that states this;

MAYOR TRAINER would like to recall the message "Lord's Prayer Petition".

I have no idea why Mayor Trainer has recalled this, all I know is that amongst many others that she had e-mailed this to, she e-mailed it to "all" of her Council. I am not even going to ask why!

Regardless I am still posting this information and if you are interested in a paper copy you can e-mail Toby Barrett at and they will send you a copy.

The following is the wording of the petition, you will need to download the entire document as the lines etc. are missing. For those that already have my e-mail address, I can send it to you, just let me know.



TO the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

Whereas, the current McGuinty government is proposing to eliminate the Lord’s Prayer from its place at the beginning of daily proceedings in the Legislature, and;

Whereas, The Lord’s Prayer has been an integral part of parliamentary tradition since it was first established in 1793 under Lieutenant Governor John Graves Simcoe.

Whereas, the Lord’s Prayer’s message is one of forgiveness; of providing for those in need of their ‘daily bread’ and of preserving us from the evils we may fall into; it is a valuable guide and lesson for a chamber that is too often an arena of conflict, and;

Whereas, recognizing the diversity of the people of Ontario should be an inclusive process, not one which excludes traditions such as the Lord’s Prayer;

Therefore we the undersigned ask the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to preserve the daily recitation Lord’s Prayer by the Speaker in the Legislature.


  1. Who the hell does McGuinty think he is? The Lord's Prayer has already been taken out of the public schools.

    This has got to be stopped. If people ignore this, it is just because they feel they cannot fight the government.

    This is part of our history.

  2. Why did Trainer take this back? Did her council of liberals bully her?

  3. Re: "Who the hell does McGuinty think he is? The Lord's Prayer has already been taken out of the public schools."

    Your point being? You think it shouldn't have been? Why?

    Re: "This is part of our history."

    And that justifies its continuation? Why did we ever get rid of slavery and let women vote? Let's go back to the "good" old days, when white, Christian men were king.

  4. Thanks for your comments.

    The following is put in better words that I could do, and this is how I feel as well, Thanks Toby

    The Lord's Prayer -- part of Ontario's Parliament

    By Toby Barrett, Queen's Park


    Mar 21, 2008

    As 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, according to PC Leader John Tory, 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 this area to the Ontario Legislature I am opposed to the removal of the Lord's Prayer. I have made available a petition at my offices in Dunnville and Simcoe for anyone interested in supporting the tradition of the Lord's Prayer at the Legislature.

  5. I sent the following to an Ontario newspaper in reply to letters on McGuinty's Lord's Prayer proposal. It was not printed, but captures some of my thoughts on the issue as well as a related issue concerning religious non-neutrality in government.

    I do not believe that those who seek the removal of the Lord's Prayer from legislative tradition do so because of anything in the prayer itself or in the faith from which it originates. It is the pre-eminence given to one faith in legislative tradition -- in the context of a society that purports to value equality, that is the problem. Why should the Christian faith receive preferential treatment?

    The irony in this whole debate is that immediately prior to introducing his disciples to the Lord's Prayer in Matthew 6:9-13, Jesus warned them about public displays of piety (Matthew 6:5-8). Far better, he said, that you go into your room and pray in secret where only your Father in heaven can see than to pray in public to be seen by men.

    It is also ironic that some Christians, who are supposed to love their neighbours as themselves, seek to maintain for themselves special recognition in the legislature.

    Opponents of the removal of the Lord's Prayer in the legislature rely heavily on an appeal to "tradition" -- a fallacy of relevance, to support their position. That is telling. It is often what people do when they have no compelling argument to offer.

    It is time we started a tradition of religiously neutral government. A critical look at our school system should be its next order of business.

    Leonard Baak
    President, Education Equality in Ontario (, Ottawa

    Many of the letters in opposition to McGuinty's Lord's Prayer proposal can be characterized as angry, bigoted rants. I doubt the ranters are particularly pious Christians, as their venom suggests that have little tolerance for equal treatment of non-Christians, whom they are supposed to love as themselves. I believe they like the fact that Christians enjoy pre-eminence before and under Ontario law and lament the possibility of loosing that pre-eminence.

    A "tradition" is an inherited, established, or customary pattern of thought, action, or behaviour. Traditions are not static, but change over time as society changes. They reflect new realities, customs, and opinions or thoughts. Ontario is no longer the homogenously Christian place it used to be (99% at Confederation -- mostly Church-going, vs 70% today -- hardly any Church-going). I'd bet that fewer than 20% of today's "Christians" could even recite the Lord's Prayer from memory. That is about how many attend Church on a regular basis.

    We now live in a society that purports to believe in the individual's fundamental right to equality. Whether it actually does is another matter. Actions speak louder than words. I think McGuinty's Lord's Prayer proposal would bring us closer to actually living up to the lofty ideals captured in our Charter of Rights and other human rights instruments to which Canada is a party.

    Personally, I favour adopting Quebec's new "tradition" of having a non-sectarian moment of reflection at the beginning of legislative proceedings. Legislators can use that time to reflect on the seriousness of their responsibilities with the God of their choosing or with no God at all. Christian legislators would be free to pray the Lord's Prayer if they wish, but they could do it silently, as Jesus intended (Matthew 6), not on a soapbox to be seen by men (otherwise they would be the hypocrites of whom Jesus spoke).

  6. Thanks Leonard for your letter and your comments.

    I must say that you put forth some very good points, and done very respectfully.

    It is too bad that your letter was not printed in the papers, it is well worth the read and does make one think.

    I find that too often an issue is not debated enough or is one sided.

    Thank you again for your valuable insight.


  7. dear brothers and sisters(fellow canadians) i humbly admit that i am not nearly as well spoken, or written as some who have shared on this subject.i was schooled only to the completion of the twelth grade. however as i read; at the top left corner of our charter of rights and freedoms it says"whereas canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of god and rule of law".believe it or not canada is a very young country, and is feeling some growing pains, but it would concern me greatly to see any further loss, removal or abandonment from the aknolegement of the lord our god. in canada we have the right to serve any god we choose as long as we don't break the laws of our land. where will this end? when we are told that we must stop speeking english because it offends some one? i believe in god, and that he exists; so did the people who formed this country. if some one come to join our country they should be made aware of this even as they are welcomed to take refuge here. canada is a god fearing nation. that is a fact, and one that i'm happy to tell my children. if you don't believe me, than let's take a vote, but let's not fight. though our beliefs may vary we are all canadians. blessings.