Discrimation vs Italians: some things never change

di Joe Volpe del 19 December 2022

TORONTO - The York Region Catholic School Board at its next Board meeting, tomorrow, Tuesday December 20, will be dealing with some serious, troubling, unfinished business originating from before the recent Provincial (June) and Municipal (October) elections.

Newmarket Trustee, Theresa McNicol, in words and in deeds, conducted herself in a manner which some fellow trustees took to be offensive and discriminatory towards them personally and as an ethnic group. Specifically, that Italian Canadians do not understand simple English and that they are prone to criminal behaviour which threatened her safety.

Readers may recall that five (5) Trustees of Italian ethnicity withheld their attendance at Board meetings due to these anti-Italian, discriminatory statements and actions by trustee Theresa McNicol. The chair at the time was unable to bring the parties to an amicable resolution. Board business ground to a halt.

They agreed to return to Board meetings and restore operational proceedings on condition that Board formally ask the Minister of Education, Stephen Lecce, to conduct “a public inquiry […] to determine whether the comments were discriminatory and to decide if there would be any sanctions assigned.”

YCDSB has the largest concentration of Italian Canadians in the Country. Vaughan, the Municipality on the western portion of the Region is home to more than 100,000 of such self-identified individuals (40% of the population), as per the 2016 census. Two Ministers in the area, Mike Tibollo and Stephen Lecce are Italian Canadians.

Four of the five Trustees above decided not to seek re-election. That did not invalidate the request for the public inquiry, nor did it erase the individual affront and group-smear directed to them and, through them, the community they serve(d) and represent.

The Director of the YCDSB, in his Report to the Board (publicly available on the YCDSB website), is advising that “the Ministry would not be responding in writing and would not be providing any direct support nor conducting any investigation into the matter.”

Why not? By his own admission, he had “been communicating with [the Assistant Deputy Minister] throughout the process.”

The public will have to wait for the debate tomorrow to learn of what stuff their elected representative are made. The director’s Report ends with, “Based on the last response from the Ministry, it will be up to the newly elected Board to determine whether or not any further process should be initiated to resolve the issue.” (Emphasis added) The director, Domenic Scuglia, is also a member of the Canadian Italian demographic.

Corriere has reached out to the Board, the Ministers and trustees. A spokesman for the YCDSB responded asking us to hold comment until the meeting is held and pointed us to the Report in the interim.

Nelle foto, da sinistra, i fiduciari
Elizabeth Crowe e Theresa McNicol (ycdsb.ca)

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