Rot at the top: code of conduct debated at the Tcdsb

di Joe Volpe del 25 November 2019

TORONTO - There is an axiom in the political world that some of us “learned the hard way”: define yourself (repeatedly, I might add) or others will define you instead. We live in a world where some “religious freedoms” - equated with the accompanying constitutional/economic supports - earned in the historic compromises leading to the British North America Act that framed the Canadian Confederation - have become the target of those who advocate allexgiance to a new, laity-driven, “human rights evangelism”.

Judging from the presumptuous, even impudent, intervenors who made delegations before the Board of Trustees of the Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB), they harbour no respect (let alone deference) for structured organizations whose raison d’etre is a strategic vision/ guide against which a purpose to life and society is measured. I don’t think it matters to them.

They appear to reject the premise that a collective association to such a concept of social organization should make sense to any ideologically based group. I listened, and reviewed, for hours, their laments that all of life’s ills visited upon them have been generated by a Catholicism they rejected long ago. It must be “get even time” for them, I guess.

How unfortunate. Happily, we have become more intolerant of “abuses” perpetrated (for whatever reason) against others, even if we may not yet have discovered a formula for eradication of unacceptable behaviour.

The issue about an “inclusive code of conduct” mandated by Doug Ford’s government should have been dispatched with relative ease, were it not for the missionary zeal and virtue-signalling of one of the most counter-productive Trustees in the TCDSB - the current Chair.

She has a history of spinning her particular view of the world – often data-free - to one of the most anti-Catholic, English language papers for personal validation. Unfortunately, she apparently has some other Trustees anxious to follow her example.

In the interests of full disclosure, the Corriere has expressed contrary views in the past regarding the actions of that Trustee and others, including the Vice-Chair. They have been easily distracted from their mandated focus on providing an academic and skills training in the context of a Catholic, Christian-values environment. It is what their Constitutional mandate requires them to do.

This does not diminish the right of other values systems, which do not have the same Constitutional mandate, to establish their own systems, be they Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Orthodox – no matter their validity to their “faithful” – and to publicize their conditions for inclusion.

In this instance, the Vice Chair at least acknowledges the inherent threat to the Catholic (Separate) School system if they, the TCDSB trustees, fold their tents on the fundamental issue of what constitutes Catholicism and who validates its manifestations in a school system. It certainly is not the newly elected authority which never raised the issue in a political campaign.

The Vice-Chair of the TCDSB appears to hold a view that the emerging trend towards the interpretation of freedoms based on sexuality may not be consistent with the moral compass or barometer which lies at the foundation of Catholicism (or other religious formations).

He disagrees with the zealots of an “anything goes” educational environment who want to “codify” that ethic in the Separate system. He raises the argument that such a move would diminish the justifications for the guarantees under Section 93 of the BNA Act. He knows, even if the newer Trustees don’t, that in the last twenty years, Catholics lost their Separate schools in two provinces – Newfoundland and Quebec – with the connivance of the federal government.

It is difficult to be polite towards Trustees whose “new-found expertise in Catholic doctrine and Constitutional Law” excludes the political and religious rights of the parents who want a School Board prepared to discharge the duties for which it exists.

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