Friday, January 13, 2017

Fraser on religion & education in Canadian legal history

Back in 2015, we missed the publication of Honorary Protestants: The Jewish School Question in Montreal, 1867-1997 by David Fraser, University of Nottingham. From the University of Toronto Press:
Honorary Protestants: The Jewish School Question in Montreal, 1867-1997When the Constitution Act of 1867 was enacted, section 93 guaranteed certain educational rights to Catholics and Protestants in Quebec, but not to any others. Over the course of the next century, the Jewish community in Montreal carved out an often tenuous arrangement for public schooling as “honorary Protestants,” based on complex negotiations with the Protestant and Catholic school boards, the provincial government, and individual municipalities. In the face of the constitution’s exclusionary language, all parties gave their compromise a legal form which was frankly unconstitutional, but unavoidable if Jewish children were to have access to public schools. Bargaining in the shadow of the law, they made their own constitution long before the formal constitutional amendment of 1997 finally put an end to the issue. 
In Honorary Protestants, David Fraser presents the first legal history of the Jewish school question in Montreal. Based on extensive archival research, it highlights the complex evolution of concepts of rights, citizenship, and identity, negotiated outside the strict legal boundaries of the constitution.
Praise for the book:

“The story of the ‘Jewish School Question’ has never before been told in such compelling detail, nor within the context of a learned discussion of ‘rights,’ ‘citizenship,’ and ‘identity.’ ‘Honorary Protestants’ constitutes an exceedingly important contribution to the history of Canadian education, the social politics of the Montreal Jewish community, and the relationships between the Jewish, Protestant, and Roman Catholic constituencies in the province of Quebec.” -Gerald Tulchinsky

‘Honorary Protestants’ presents an important corrective to the twentieth-century focus of much of the history of civil liberties in Quebec and Canada. As David Fraser demonstrates, fundamental rights and liberties were being debated already in the nineteenth century, long before conscription crises, the Red Scares, and Duplessis’s guerre sans merci of the 1930s and 1940s.” -Eric H. Reiter

You can read more about the book here.