Erik Millett, principal of Belleisle Elementary School, had his decision to stop kids from singing the national anthem each morning hammered by several Conservative MPs in Ottawa on Friday.
N.B. Conservative MPs condemn anthem ban
A decision to ban elementary school students from singing O Canada each morning is "political correctness run wild," says a federal Conservative cabinet minister.
In the House of Commons Friday, Fredericton MP Keith Ashfield, who is minister of state for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, criticized the decision by Belleisle Elementary School principal Erik Millett to prohibit kids from singing the national anthem and urged him to reconsider.
"This is political correctness run wild. Canada is an inclusive country and we take tremendous pride in our national anthem," Ashfield said in question period.
"It is a song that is sung from coast to coast and it unites us as Canadians. Mr. Speaker, this government urges the principal to reverse his decision and bring back O Canada to his school."
Outside the House, Ashfield said he is opposed to a ban on singing of the anthem, saying that the school is a place where Canadians should show pride in the country.
The decision to halt the morning singing of the national anthem was made more than a year ago, but parents only recently began challenging the principal.
Earlier this week, Millett said he wanted to make the school feel more inclusive, noting he had received complaints from some parents. He refused to detail the complaints, citing privacy reasons.
Additionally, he said he wanted to improve the morning flow of students as children arriving late would interrupt the anthem as it was piped into the classrooms over the public address system.
Tory MPs blast principal's decision
Miramichi Conservative MP Tilly Gordon, a former teacher, raised the "disrespectful and ill-informed" decision in question period.
"One of the most important moments of each day was watching my students rise every morning for the singing of O Canada," she said.
"Seeing our future generation show pride in their country means a lot to me. I was very saddened to hear that a principal of a New Brunswick school has banned the signing of O Canada because he apparently believes that it's not inclusiveness enough."
Also in Ottawa, Tobique-Mactaquac Conservative MP Mike Allen blasted Millett's decision, especially on the grounds that he was trying to be inclusive.
"There is nothing more inclusive than O Canada," Allen said.
"It is a song that belongs to each and every Canadian. The singing of O Canada is an expression of our collective pride in being citizens of one of the most prosperous and peaceful nations the world has ever known."