Friday, November 06, 2015

History of ...Honorary Protestants?

Jews have been called a lot of names over the centuries.  But honorary protestants?  Only Canadian federalism could produce that one.

The confederation settlement, 1867, guaranteed funding for minority Catholic schools in Ontario and minority Protestant schools in Quebec. Gradually some funds were carved out of the Protestant allocation in Quebec to support Jewish schools. The Jews of Quebec, for education purposes, became "honorary protestants."  Some Protestant school leaders strove to create the alternate category of "Jewish Roman Catholics," but that one did not take.  David Fraser's Honorary Protestants: the Jewish School Question in Montreal, 1867-1997 sorts out all this history in 500 pages, including such details as the vital role played by Leonard Cohen's grandfather.

In Ontario there are still efforts either to fund Jewish and other religious-minority schools, or else to abolish the Catholic separate schools. For its part, Quebec achieved consensus in 1997 on a constitutional amendment that replaced school funding based on religion with funding based on language.

Honorary Protestants was launched in Toronto last night by the Osgoode Society and McGill Queen's Press  (Montreal next week).Also launched:  Ian Kyer's A Thirty Years War, on the public/private partnership debacle that produced the Toronto Transit Commission in 1921; a new volume of the State Trials series, edited by Wright, Binnie, and Tucker, and Dale Gibson's study of Assiniboia law under the Hudson's Bay Company.  All the details at the Osgoode Society blog.
One of these four books may be the one hundredth book in Canadian legal history published by the Osgoode Society and its publisher partners since 1981 -- or, as Jim Phillips put it diplomatically last night in the presence of the authors, perhaps they are all tied for 97th. Whatever, it's a total that does tend to strengthen the Society's claim (uttered only about a hundred times last night) to be the most successful legal history society in the common law world.

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