Equal Rights Association
The Equal Rights Association for the Province of Ontario, established June of 1889 in Toronto, was formed in response to Québec's JESUITS' ESTATES ACT. The ERA criticized Catholic interference in politics and what it saw as the subservience of politicians to the Roman Catholic Church. At first it agitated for disallowance of the Estates Act, and later, at the behest of Tory MP D'Alton MCCARTHY, extended its attack to include Catholic separate schools and French-language schooling in the North-West Territories and Manitoba as well as Ontario. This extension, coming on the eve of the 1890 Ontario election, alienated many Liberals, including ERA president Reverend William Caven. The ERA won only one seat in Ontario, but the movement forced both political parties to adopt parts of its program. Weakened by the election, the ERA was spent by the 1891 federal contest, although McCarthy's rhetoric contributed to the acrimony of the developing MANITOBA SCHOOLS QUESTION. Some members later supported the Protestant Protective Association.