Jewish School Bill for Montreal Passes Its Third Reading; Now in Council

The Jewish school bill, creating a Jewish commission of seven members which will have full autonomous rights in all matters pertaining to the education of Jewish children of the Island of Montreal, passed its third reading in the Provincial Parliament yesterday and will be submitted to the Legislative Council today.

The commission, which will probably be appointed early next week, will be under the jurisdiction of the superintendent of education and will have full control of all Jewish taxes and a proportional share of the neutral panel taxes. If separate schools are established, it will not require a vote of consent by the taxpayers. Provision is also made for the division of Protestant school properties in the event that separate schools are planned. The Catholic and Protestant sections of the Committee on Public Instruction will have no power to advise the commission on purely Jewish matters.

Although the bill creates a separate school status for the Jews of Montreal, it does not assure the immediate establishment of separate schools as the commission is also empowered to negotiate an agreement with the Protestant school system whereby Jewish children may continue their education in Protestant schools. This point was stressed in the debate on the bill when its sponsors expressed the hope that no separation would occur.

Saying he would deplore the introduction of a separate system for Jewish children in the province “for though I am proud of being a Jew I am also proud of being a Canadian citizen,” Peter Bercovitch, Jewish member of Parliament, said he felt that it was to the best interests of Canada that there should be as little cleavage as possible among the different races. “But on the other hand,” he declared, “if our Protestant friends should persist in their refusal to give us those rights to which we are entitled as British subjects, there is nothing left for us to do but establish our separate schools.”

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