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Disruptive, Intolerant, Divisive:
radical activists in YCDSB

TORONTO – Italian, historical perspective classifies these people as “squadristi” – disrupters who move in gangs for self-protection and intimidation. A less genteel word, now used as a derogatory descriptor for political compulsion, is “fascistic”.

On Monday, May 29, a significant number of individuals exhibiting these traits invaded the head offices of the YCDSB for the fourth month in a row. This time, in support of a Motion moved by a Trustee, Elizabeth Crowe, on behalf of student trustees, to fly a version of the rainbow flag. I was not on the posted, approved agenda. According to the “ideology” the “squadristi” espouse, the flag would advertise the concept of “inclusion” and that the premises are “safe” for people of divergent sexual identities. No one has yet to produce documented evidence of events and circumstances that illustrate the contrary, in this Board.

This is a Catholic Board functioning in the context of Constitutional prerogative and ideologically- based social organization; it should, by definition, a safe and inclusive environment. It even has a “code of conduct” for those who espouse its values, a Catechism, which is published and monitored under the auspices of a magisterium.

The Minister of Education is not a part of that magisterium. In fact, the Education Act forbids him/her from insinuating himself/herself in matters of religious beliefs held and advanced [as legitimate and desirable] by Catholic Boards. Whether one likes it or not, the YCDSB has the right to exclude “what does not align to Catholic values”.

The previous Tuesday, May 23, the Executive Committee, in its collective wisdom, decided to reject all applications to delegate on the matter of the flag – pro or con. Trustees had already been “informed” by the public on the issues in the previous three meetings of the Board. All members of that Committee, including Director Scuglia and Trustee Crowe, were explicitly made aware that no recommendations were to accompany Reports to be presented to the Board on the flag issue. As an observer, I considered that to be a tactic aimed at avoiding unnecessarily disruptive, confrontational behaviour.

There had been plenty of that, incited by activists who neither know, nor care a whit of the “Catholic values” Chair Alexander mentions above. Initially, that was my personal assessment at the first of four meetings where private security had been asked to “beef up” its numbers. Police were also called to “restore order” when parents expressed displeasure at the content to which their children were being exposed in the name of “inclusivity”.

In “digging further”, my assessments were confirmed. Instigators (lobbyists for a particular, non parental group) were whipping up well staged “anger” and creating a scene. Their “tools” included employees of the Board. How so? And why?

There they were again on Monday: unionists from OECTA (teachers’) CUPE locals for office support and CUPE for facilities management. The latter two were polite. They must have been considered “cannon-fodder” because their black t-shirts (so pre-WWII politics) were emblazoned with a rainbow-coloured ALLY.

Some of the activists who tried to disrupt the YCDSB meeting (photos: Raul Lima)

Meanwhile, OECTA’s leadership (Mark Totten and a look-alike) corralled their members and, ranch-like, herded them as strategically as they could. In the process, they attempted to “cover their faces” when media moved close and hastened to consult a favourite gadfly from the staff of the TCDSB. Only select media were allowed to benefit from their wisdom. It did not included the Corriere Canadese.

The fact that Media were there suggests that these “squadristi” descended on media outlets once they learned that the official agenda did not list the flag issue as debate item.

Naturally, they had to provide a show. What better way than to generate a “cry-in” after the vote involving “children”, the student trustees and a couple of high school students in the lower gallery. Trustee Carol Cotton joined the display with her own tears from her chair on resumption of the meeting.

One of the radicals was ushered out by the police. Two of the individuals on whose shoulders the disruptive behaviour should also fall, trustees Elizabeth Crowe and Jennifer Wigston, the next morning were on their way to Saskatoon for the Truth and Reconciliation tour with 22 students. It had not been approved by the Ministry, the $2,500.00 per participant has to come from elsewhere.

The photo of the trip to Saskatchewan with trustees Jennifer Wigston and Elizabeth Crowe and the students (from Twitter – @WigstonJennifer)

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