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Rule # one In Track and Field
or politics: stay in your lane

TORONTO – I stopped in a Dollar Store to pick up two cards: one, a birthday, the other, a Mothers’ day – both for the same person. Most of the store was dutifully sectioned off, even the card rack. I picked up the two cards anyway and proceeded to pay.

The self-serve kiosk would not accept the birthday card purchase. The young lady assistant who came to my aid, said “I’m sorry sir, the rules don’t allow us to sell any cards except these. You cannot buy and I cannot sell the other.” The card was worth $1.13, tax included.

All the technology and personnel had been programmed to respect the law. What an interesting concept, I thought to myself: The Dollar Store understands laws, duties, and authorities – if you do not like them, you are free to shop somewhere else.

They should have delegated to the Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB) meeting last Thursday. TCDSB trustees – some of them – do not seem to have grasped that concept. Either that or the Cardinal is derelict in his duties and is misrepresenting his obligations.

I suspect the former. Irrespective of one’s position on the applicability of the Human Rights Code in any school environment, there are some incontrovertible truths at the foundations of Catholic Schools. They are rooted in Constitutional Law and in the Law of the Church (the magisterium).

The Constitution and legislation that flows from it validate the rights of the citizens it names. Those citizens are beneficiaries of certain standings everyone is obliged to defend and promote. The Law recognizes the authority of the magisterium to regulate and determine Catholic dogma in Catholic schools.

Trustees in local School Boards have no authority to make such determinations for the Constitution. They cannot decide for any Catholic elector what they can or cannot practice as their “religion”. They have no authority to do so. In part, that is why at the inaugural meeting, every year, trustees swear an oath to the magisterium reaffirming their understanding of their obligations to defend and promote the purposes of a Catholic education.

What other purpose would they serve? They do not swear to interpret what they personally think is appropriate religious observance. Last week, they chose “flag over cross”. I will wager they did not seek election on a platform to advance their own personal interpretation of Catholicism. They would have disqualified themselves outright.

Their variance from those simple truths is made no more acceptable by calling in as witnesses, non-Catholics whose agenda is diametrically opposed to the Catholic ethic. In analogous practical terms, why would the Board of Directors of Coca Cola invite representatives of Pepsi Cola to comment on potential changes to the Coca Cola formula?

Giving a “slap in the face” to the Cardinal for daring to “provide guidance” to the faithful, and to those whose duty it is to implement that guidance, may have been self-satisfying to the puerile mind of the “slapper” – but that is all. None of the “sophomoric” prattling offered as justification will have been impressive to the young store clerk. She refused to compromise herself, her employer or the store on the “principle”.

For her, what was at stake was not a relatively insignificant $1.13. but the principles she had been hired to uphold. The trustees oversee a budget approximating $1.3 billion annually. They did not reflect for even a moment on the decision they were making to exclude the overwhelming majority of families who send their children to Catholic schools because of the magisterium.

Worse, they jeopardized those parental/religious rights in law. For that flippant illegality, they deserve to be thrown out of office, post haste.

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