TORONTO - When the trustees at the Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB) told the Cardinal to “stick it in his ear” they touched off a firestorm of rejection, local and beyond. The public would seem to object to their religious and legal rights being usurped by entry-level politicos. A blogger from far away Texas has initiated an online petition calling for the ouster of these “pretenders”.
Locally, some Catholic organizations have started to convene meetings, seemingly designed to consider next steps in regaining control of the religious formation of our children. More activist “regular folk” have started door-to- door campaigns to dump the Minister and the Cardinal.
At the core of everything is the question of who is entitled, in law, to make decisions regarding the “denominational rights” of Catholics. It should be straightforward – the Constitution and the magisterium, as they apply to Catholic electors, and no one else.
The only lawful ways to become a Catholic elector: the property in which you live must be registered on the assessment rolls as catholic supporter (owned by rented/leased by someone Catholic); or one is entered on the preliminary list of catholic school supporters and is enumerated. Only catholic electors can seek office to serve as Catholic School Board Trustee.
A “candidate” may get himself/herself onto a preliminary voters’ list – and thus, also acquire presumed eligibility - but must sign an affidavit that he/she meets all the qualifications for the position. The voting public assumes that the Election Commissioner safeguards the process, while the Catholic school board protects the interests of their electors under the aegis of the magisterium.
Corriere Canadese, along with the Director of Education at the TCDSB, the Chairman and a reporter at the Toronto Star received documents strongly suggesting that system has been compromised. Corriere assigned investigative reporters, to research all relevant sources and material related to the election of the current crop of trustees from 2018. The TCDSB turned the matter over to the newly appointed Integrity Commissioner (IC).
The IC does not figure in the electoral process. He cannot “qualify” a candidate either on religious grounds or on property/rental residency issues. Nor does the IC “approve” an election result. That is out of his jurisdiction. In any case, the TCDSB did not have an IC in 2018 – nor did 90% of Ontario’s school boards.
Our journalists uncovered some disturbing facts. Three sitting trustees signed affidavits for qualifying addresses that were registered to owners listed on the assessment rolls as public-school electors. One of them appears on two preliminary voters’ lists for properties both registered to public school supporters. That trustee is also listed as a public-school supporter on a third property, co-owned by her and her husband, out of town – and out of electoral jurisdiction.
Corriere Canadese pointed out to the TCDSB that such apparent ineligibility to hold office by the three might invalidate any decisions made by the Board, at least when those trustees voted. Incidentally, the three sided with the majority 7-4 vote on the May 6 flag debate, notwithstanding the Cardinal’s input.
Another member of the seven is a nominated [Liberal] candidate who takes her marching orders from her leader… it is not the Cardinal. Yet another seems to be relentless in his quest to be appointed as the [PC] candidate to replace an ousted MPP in the upcoming election.
They leave themselves open to accusations of engaging in “scorched earth” tactics. Their commitment to the vision statement and oath of office to catholic education is arguably open to question.
The Cardinal is lending them legitimacy with his inaction.
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