By Murray MacAdam
Bishop Philip Poole joined a coalition of faith leaders speaking at a Toronto City Hall press conference April 4, urging Toronto city councillors and Greater Toronto Area councillors to vote against accepting any new casinos.
More than 250 faith leaders have signed an interfaith anti-casino statement, including Archbishop Colin Johnson, Bishop Linda Nicholls, Bishop George Elliott, Bishop Patrick Yu, Bishop Poole, as well as many Anglican clergy.
Bishop Poole was included in the Globe and Mail’s coverage of the event. In his comments to the press conference, Bishop Poole noted that faith leaders oppose gambling for several reasons, including the fact that gambling amounts to “a tax on the poor, attracting those who can least afford it. Gambling offers the illusion of getting something for nothing.”
Gambling addiction is something that faith leaders know about directly, he added. “As faith leaders, we develop personal relationships with our members which allow us to into their lives in a deep way. Our members share with us the pain, anxiety and anger gambling brings, and we are there to help them pick up the pieces of their shattered lives.”
The anti-casino statement was the first one ever signed by a diverse group of Toronto faith leaders, including Muslim, Jewish and Christian leaders, on a public policy issue. Councillor Joe Mihevc congratulated the faith leaders on their effort, describing it as “an amazing statement of unity” which reflects “the courage to act in the public realm when the common good is being threatened. The fact that so many religious leaders have signed on shows how broad-based the opposition to casino expansion is.”
Toronto City Council is expected to vote in May on a new casino proposal.