The Comment

Minister Lecce and Archbishop Leo in Education Crosshairs

TORONTO – The Minister of Education, Stephen Lecce, in three short weeks has gone from being the hero of the Progressives (teachers’ unions, government workers, “human rights activists”…) to the target for the disgruntled, impatient or entitled. They are characterized by the culture best described as embodying the mentality of “what’s ours is ours and what is yours is negotiable until it becomes ours or is controlled by us”.

Forgive my observation, but he asked for it. His “friends” obliged him. Four of the Provinces biggest school boards embarrassed him by launching a civil suit against media tech giant in the sum of $4.5 Billion for “corrupting” the behaviour of the children under the care of the boards. It is not clear that he gave the permission to proceed. Constitutionally, for the public district school boards, those educational authorities exist at the pleasure of the Provincial government.

Moreover, it is questionable whether, in the event of success, those boards can receive the compensatory damages a Court may allocate. What then of the provincial funding formulas? The Toronto District School Board is already lamenting its “structural deficit” of $28 million for which it demands monies from the Ministry. It is not permitted to run a deficit.

The Minister is beginning to understand that there are many things school boards are not permitted to do but go ahead anyway, in the expectation that the Minister will succumb to pressure [because they have the backing of the NDP in the Legislature]. They are also playing up their role as “defenders of the marginalized”. The Peel District School Board is the latest with its sortie into international affairs and the declaration of the Nakba as a mandatory decrying of an genocidal ethnic cleansing event pitting Muslims against Jews.

In this context, Catholic schools, parallel educational authorities, must seem as safe havens for parents in search of a family-oriented, “morals-based public education system” whose values are rooted in, and protected by, Constitutional obligation. Unfortunately for some of them, attendance at, or service in, such boards require adherence (at least nominally) to the Catholic ethic whose comprehensive, holistic ideology aims to enhance a particular concept of human dignity, conduct and interpersonal relationships.

In the last month, the Catholic world, approximately 1.4 billion individuals world-wide, and about four million in Ontario have received an updated version of what that means. “Progressives” are not happy. They are, by definition, Catholicphobic. They have been advancing and advocating for all things not Catholic, in a Catholic school board. But Catholic schools are not theirs. They either do not understand or they reject the concept of “giving to Caesar what is Caesar and to God was is God’s”.

In the Toronto Catholic District School Board, a Motion affirming Catholic conduct among trustees and Staff will be debated, Tuesday, April 23 requiring said individuals “to be observant”. It is sad that such a motion is required. Even sadder is that several trustees, without authority, rushed to the Media to denounce what the Catholicity of the Motion which is not consistent with their own. They are not the magisterium. They should resign, if they cannot abide by its tenets. That would be the honest thing to do.

To what do they object? The Motion calls for flying a “pro-life” flag on all Catholic school properties. The Motion does not condemn. It may draw attention to a debate on the value of Life in general. For context, according to StatsCan in 2022 the number of live births in Canada was approximately 345,000. During the same period, according to Statista, a survey of the number of terminated pregnancies reported in 2022, was 83,710, roughly 20% of all pregnancies.

What lessons is the archbishop in Toronto advocating?

From left: the premier of Ontario, Doug Ford, archbishop Frank Leo and minister Stephen Lecce, in a photo published on Lecce’s Twitter page X (@Sflecce)

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