TORONTO – It is that time of year when the Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB) decides who will hold the position of Chair and Vice-Chair. Trustees will soon make that decision at the Board meeting on November 25. After serving two years as Board Chair, Joseph Martino confirmed to the Corriere that he will not seek the position.

However, the position is a sought after one with several Trustees vying for the spot. Based on information made available to the Corriere, Angela Kennedy, Ward 11 trustee for East York/Toronto is seeking the role as Chair. Nancy Crawford, current Vice-Chair of the Board, is also rumoured to be a candidate for the position. A trustee from Etobicoke is also seeking the leadership role as well as Garry Tanuan, who represents Ward 8 – northeast Scarborough.

The job is not an easy one. Over the years the TCDSB has been plagued with in-fighting among trustees, a series of public complaints and code of conduct issues. These matters have prompted parents to question the relevance and competence of the Board to conduct business effectively. The Corriere spoke with Mr. Tanuan, who has been a member of the Board since 2012, to ask why he is interested in the coveted role as Chair.

Why do you seek this leadership role?
“During my years of service at the TCDSB, I have had the privilege to serve on nearly all committees at the Board. Currently, I serve as Chair of the Student Achievement and Well Being, Catholic Education and Human Resources Committee. As an immigrant from the Philippines, I recognize the need for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion across the Board. In my experience with the Board, there has been no Chairs or Vice-Chairs that represent minorities. I also believe that together, we can make a difference in bringing back the Faith into our community.”

There appears to be a movement among the Catholic education community to move away from traditional Catholic teachings. What is your opinion on this issue?
“There is a need to reconcile the differences in the Catholic Church. Some may argue an alternate point of view, but that is why we have the Magisterium. If we choose to be part of an organization like the TCDSB, it is our obligation to be as supportive of the tenets and doctrines of the Catholic Church.”

Each year, trustees have sworn an oath to the Magisterium. Recent discussion has surfaced that the Board has decided to forego the oath. What impact does this have on the future Catholicity of the Board?
“Catholic education is guided by the teachings of the Magisterium. Some trustees may no longer wish to reaffirm their faith values in the time-honoured custom of swearing the oath to the Magisterium. As a Catholic Board, we have a moral and Catholic ethic to adhere to. We cannot decide to change that ethic. I’m of the opinion that If we cease to abide by what we profess to believe in, we cease to be Catholic. Then, what is the distinction between the Catholic and Public school boards.”

How do you propose to restore the perceived waning of public confidence in the Board?
“We are in the business of education. We need to educate ourselves and each other. It is essential that we demonstrate that we are Catholics and that we promote our faith. How can we be good trustees without being good Catholics? It is important that we understand and embrace the doctrine before we act. As Trustees, we have a responsibility to preserve and protect the uniqueness of Catholic education for future generations. Afterall, we are all “Children of God, Walking with Christ”.”

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