Photos: The Meeting at Beth Torah Synagogue
TORONTO - It was a cold night outside. Probably the coldest of the year. Despite that, about 300 attendees made their way into the Beth Torah Synagogue on Glenbrook Ave. and Dufferin.
No, they were not [all] Jewish there to initiate the Hanukkah Season. They were in the main Italian Catholics.
Ironically, like the Holy Family of 2,000 years ago, there was no room in their “own place(s)”. They, and their MPP Mike Colle, had had their permit to meet at a Catholic school nearby revoked. The local Trustee apparently disapproved of the discussion being proposed for the evening and the organizers who put the program together.
How petty, if true. Rabbi Sapirman offered “his place”. No problem. Lawyer Paul Cavalluzzo quipped that Jesus was Jewish and this is the season of giving.
The topic, for those who have been following, is much more serious. It involves the appropriation of an asset and cultural heritage by a small group of “development at any cost” Governors of Villa Charities with as attitude best described as: “the public interest be damned!”.
It was an evening for venting frustrations. And updating a large body of volunteers on the status of the latest proposals, manoeuvres by a seemingly insensitive, often cynical and unscrupulous leadership that has installed itself at the head of what was once a community not-for-profit, charitable organization.It is not immediately clear how to overturn whatever murky methods were utilized to turn themselves into what is now described as “Private Charitable Organization”. Membership in Villa Charities is now restricted to those who pay a $100,000 fee and whose application is acceptable to the majority of the Governors on the Board.
Some called for a forensic audit. Others called on the Province to appoint an Investigator; others still on Canada Revenue Agency for a revocation of its charitable status and a seizing of the assets of Villa Charities.
Others offered that the key is to invalidate the joint venture between the Catholic School Board and VCI. If anything concrete emerged from those suggestions, which took up a significant portion of the two-hour event, it was that everyone should swamp the offices of Trustees to express their displeasure.
Several have already decided to file for a change in support from catholic to public schools. Pressure is being brought to bear on the Provincial government to “clean house”. Minister Albanese, who attended the latter part of the evening received an earful and responded that the message is being carried with the same vigor she was hearing.
The “highlight of the night” was the reading of a letter, dated December 11,2017, sent by [one of the premier Founders of Villa Charities] Tony Fusco. The letter is reprinted in Italian and English on page 2 in this edition.
Mr. Fusco minces no words in condemning the project.