TORONTO - In our mind, democratic exercises – elections – are a great opportunity to rid the system of the noxious as well as to bring in the re-invigorating. There is still plenty of room for individual differences and ambitions; nothing wrong with that. Some Municipal Councils and Boards function just fine. Others, not so much.
Every now and then, some individuals and “groupings” emerge who are toxic to the very purpose of the organization to which they achieve election. They are the antithesis of the goals of that system and the people it represents. Yet not everyone is ready to accept the gauntlet, especially in school boards.
Catholic schools have a special role in Canadian society and in the political contract that is our Constitution. Their governance structure – School Boards – is witnessing the pernicious presence of individuals who seem motivated to pursue an anti-Catholic agenda rather than one that nurtures the needs of parents and children under their care.
We have been following, and commenting on, three such Boards in particular. In our view, they are in sad need of serious intervention by the families whose needs justify their existence.
Halton Catholic District (Burlington, Milton, Oakville)
Every reasonable Catholic elector should stay away from any candidate endorsed by Halton Parents for Change. This is rabid, activist anti-Catholic group trying to promote a woke agenda from within. They have bullied their way to censoring books in the Board’s libraries; ignored the basic requirements of qualifications for teachers in their system; made unfounded submissions to the Human Rights Commission against [some] trustees for doing their job, and, prompted incessant Board debates regarding the flying of flags other than the Canadian.
Current trustees Brenda Agnew, O’Hearn Czarnota and Marvin Duarte are serious part of the problem.
We endorse Vincent Iantomasi and Helen Karabela. They have remained true to their obligations and deserve to be re-elected. The others, no.
York Catholic District
This Board suffers from a self-inflicted wound when it refused to deal with the negative ethnic stereotyping Trustee Theresa Mc Nicol foisted on her colleagues of Italian origin. When the Chair and others supported her, five trustees of Italian origin began to boycott Board meetings, depriving the Board of the necessary quorum do legitimize business. Four of the five decided not to seek re-election. It is to the Board’s and the public’s loss.
Trustee Mary Iafrate is staying on. Hopefully, she will be joined by candidate Angela Saggese from Kleinburg and by Peter Fracassi in Newmarket where he is trying to unseat McNicol.
Toronto Catholic District
This Board is a synonym for dysfunctionality. The root cause is trustee Maria Rizzo. Despite not qualifying as a Catholic elector in 2018, she remains as trustee. The schools in her ward are among the poorest academic performers in the province.
She has caused the closing of the Dante Academy, prized high school in the Italian community; Madonna High school (all girls) is no longer allowed to manifest references to Girls’ achievement; her bullying has caused costly legal problems for some of her colleagues and the Board. To suggest she is toxic would be an understatement. She is devious and manipulative beyond description.
Her crew includes another Catholic-hater, Markus De Domenico, a misogynist bully to mothers who call his office for assistance. He is being contested by a woman who comes across as informed, thoughtful, sincere and committed to aspects of a child’s education. She, Gabriella Mazarakis, would be a refreshing professional addition to the Board.
Someone else who should be replaced is Ida Li Preti. Ida is Rizzo’s puppet. She says the Board is rife with “systemic homophobia”. We don’t know whether she actually believes that or whether that is what two members of former Premier Kathleen Wynne Women’s Commission. One chaired her fundraising campaign, the other managed her communications and social media when she sought election for the provincial Liberals. At least one of them was/is a party to a lawsuit against the TCDSB on gender identity issues. We cannot know whether Li Preti recognizes conflict of interest.
It is a good thing that a certain Gregory Rodriguez is attempting to oust her; vote for him.
Rizzo’s political tentacles and spite reach out to southern Etobicoke where she has encouraged two former colleagues to contest the current trustee, Theresa Lubinski. The Corriere endorses Lubinski. She did not ask us.
Someone we cannot support is Angela Kennedy. If the Board is in the midst of legal issues today it is partially due to her “wishy-washy” approach to her duties as a trustee. She has trouble also deciding where she wants to go politically. That’s her problem; it need not be the Board’s.
We have a different view regarding Michael Del Grande. He has been the target of Rizzo’s radicals for three years. The cost to him personally and to the Board’s reputation and finances will be incalculable. But he has hung on. He deserves the electorate’s vote.
Corriere Canadese has made efforts to reach out to all candidates. Some are more responsive than others. We support the re-election of Nancy Crawford, Frank D’Amico, Daniel Di Giorgio and the election of Gianfranco Cristiano.
TO READ PREVIOUS COMMENTS: https://www.corriere.ca/english-article