TORONTO - Please accept my apologies for any lack of clarity in my last column on the shambles known as the Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB).
I referenced the number of registered alleged transgressions against Trustee Code of Conduct (Code) investigated by the former Interim Integrity Commissioner (IIC) as fourteen. The total number is 24. The IIC listed only the 14 on which she made findings.
Of those 14, Trustee Maria Rizzo is directly involved in nine. The IIC also did not explicitly reference Rizzo’s contravention of the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act or the grievance that the Toronto English Catholic Teachers launched with the Labour Relations Board for threats she uttered against one of their members.
In an August 2020 meeting, at the TCDSB, on a material conflict of interest matter, the Board decided unanimously against her. At the same meeting, the same trustees found similarly against a former Student Trustee for infractions against the Code. She has been a “tool” for Rizzo “to beat up on” Trustees whose views may be inconsistent with her own.
Other such “weapons” for her war on the TCDSB are radical LBGQT2 activists – one, a gadfly teacher in the system, another also a former Student Trustee from a generation ago. Yet another is an instructor on staff at York University. He parades his association with an organization and publication whose stated goal is the elimination of the TCDSB, along with the eradication of a society where – to paraphrase – the value structure of grey-haired heterosexual males is the norm. Yes, one is permitted to draw conclusions.
Rizzo appears to have found another ally in her vengeful attacks on the TCDSB and, more specifically, on colleagues she seems to despise. On Tuesday, while the rest of Toronto was expressing concern over soaring Covid-19 numbers among students and seniors in LTC homes, Kathleen Wynne made a surprise appearance at Queen’s Park.
The soon to be former MPP, drove in from Alliston Ontario to rise in the Legislature and call on the Minister of Education to “force” the Toronto Catholic Board’s release of the IIC’c report specific to her investigation of statements made by Trustee Del Grande - in a Board Meeting and on the record - almost one year ago. Happily, Minister Lecce did not take the bait.
It appears that the individuals above are still unhappy that the system in place to adjudicate alleged violations of the Trustee Code of Conduct did not result in the outcome they so desperately wanted. MPP Wynne, for whom I have always shown professional respect – our differences on policy notwithstanding – threw “a temper tantrum” on their behalf. Eleven months after the fact, and three months after the Board decision, I might add. Most undignified.
By the way, had the vote gone differently on allegations made against Del Grande, there would have been no earth-shattering consequences or even minimal raps on the wrists - Rizzo avoided a six-month suspension for proven conflict of interest. What is it that people want?
The allegations were prompted by some who profess offense at the characterization of their personal, private sexual behaviour? In Canada, gay marriage was recognized, in law, 15 years ago (I was at the Cabinet table when the government drew it up). The last Premier (oh, that would be Kathleen Wynne) was lesbian. There are many gay and lesbian individuals in government institutions, including the teaching profession. Legally, politically, and economically (from a career point of view) there would appear to be an absence of “systemic homophobia”.
The radicals mentioned have not articulated any program that has a “measurable” benefit to which the TCDSB can be held accountable.
The TCDSB is educational organization specifically structured to provide Constitutionally recognized services particular to adherents of a specific religion. Incidentally, people can always choose a publicly funded alternative for their children.
Neither Trustees nor MPPs are equipped, or required, to interpret the merits of current Church doctrine in those Catholic schools. As the IIC said in her report these “issues […] should rest with the Archdiocese”. If the Bishop is derelict in his obligations, then Rizzo’s incompetent interpretations and those of her ilk are free to sully the reputation and value of a Catholic system responsible for a significant portion of our success as a Canadian society.
We collectively should not tolerate it.