TORONTO - It was flabbergasting, to say the very least. Mark the date, time and location. November 26, 7:15 pm, the inaugural meeting of the TCDSB for academic year 2020-21.
Following another week of denigrating, torqued accusations levelled at the Catholic Schools system by reneged radical activists and others, Trustees were asked to rise and renew their pledge to be faithful to the teachings of the Church, to the Primacy of the Roman Pontiff and the authority of the Magisterium (the Cardinal). None of them declined.
Their defiance would have immediately disqualified them from office. Not even the infamous Gang of Four (trustees Markus De Domenico, Norm Di Pasquale, Ida Li Preti and Maria Rizzo), despite their false bravura, demurred. Scratch your head if you’re confused.
With that simple act, the Cardinal reaffirmed his authority over the Catholic nature of the TCDSB and his willingness to exert leadership on Catholic education. He still needs to “clean house”, if he wants to restore the tarnished reputation of the Separate [Catholic] Schools and ensure their survival. And, not just in Toronto.
It was time to take control of the non debate about the value of what is at the essence of the Catholic ethic: inclusivity, tolerance, acceptance, responsibility, mutual respect, dignity, and love towards others.
The Corriere Canadese is a secular newspaper. It caters to people whose cultural heritage encompasses millenia of inter-relationships between Church, Family, School and the rights of individuals in the context of societal obligations. Yet we wondered why the Church and School Boards have allowed radical advocates for an inimical ethos to set the agenda from within. There is nothing in the Human Rights Code to suggest anything amiss in Catholicism. In fact, under section 19.1, it specifically says nothing in the code shall be interpreted as displacing the denominational rights of Catholic Schools.
The Education Act specifically tells the Minister he has no business in the affairs of the Catholic schools outside the secular curriculum on “skills”. The Constitution enshrines the mutual rights and obligations of that trilogy.
A previous Interim Integrity Commissioner, Sandhya Kohli, hired to bring a sense of sanity to the morass in corporate governance afflicting the TCDSB, was brutal in her frank assessment, even if she did not name names: some trustees (and Senior Staff) are out of control and are bullying the rest to get their way, to the point of usurping the authority of the Magisterium on religious matters, bypassing administrative law and due process to tar and feather a colleague who stands for the denominational obligations the Board exists to maintain and promote.
It has been going on for more than a year, culminating in a Board meeting, November 11, whose outcome was best described by Trustee Crawford as an “abominable” moment in the history of Catholic education. The conduct of the foul foursome above was vile, malicious and vindictive. Too bad, some misguided others on the Board enabled them.
For an entire year, they permitted a radical element of the LBGTQ2+ community – a teacher in their schools – to heap scorn upon the Catholic Church, make outrageous accusations of “systemic homophobia” in the TCDSB, his employer.
Trustee De Domenico, described as misogynistic by one mother who called him out on his anti-Catholic, anti-Gospel responses to her emails, urged him on, as recently as November 22, telling him he had his back. That teacher/radical threatened to throw the Cardinal out of his class, if he dared show up.
Trustee Li Preti questioned the ability of the Cardinal to understand the Pope’s message on modern families, then proceeded to accuse her colleagues, and Catholics in general, of homophobia.
The Cardinal finally had enough when Trustee Di Pasquale interrupted the reading of an excerpt from the Catholic Catechism, in a Catholic environment, because, he, Di Pasquale, found the language was both “dangerous” and “inappropriate”. It is ok if you conjure up an image of Stalinist thought police.
In December 2019, the gang of four caused an “investigation” to be conducted into the utterings of Trustee Del Grande during the course of an open and normal debate and to opine as to whether he had gone overboard with his language. The investigator firm specializes in workplace diversity and gender-based harassment issues – sixteen of its eighteen lawyers are female. Its lead investigator, Michelle Bird, found that he had not. However, she did not like his tone and his flippancy, after the debate.
The Board’s outside legal counsel works for a firm specializing in advocacy for diversity issues. There is never a moment when his advice is not predicated on Human Rights Code and dismissive of Catholic/denominational rights in the Constitution or in the Education Act. The TCDSB actually pays him while it sidelines its own in-house legal counsel.
Trustee Rizzo invited MPP Kathleen Wynne, who lives in Alliston, is not Catholic, did not view or read the transcripts of the meeting investigated by Bird to weigh in against Del Grande and the TCDSB for its homophobia. The Board has initiated an investigation into allegations of electoral fraud levelled against Rizzo, who, as an aside, admits to preferring the rock group the Beatles to Christ.
Thursday night, this motley crew swore allegiance to the Cardinal’s leadership on Catholicism.