TORONTO - With a 6-4 vote, the Board of Trustees at York Catholic District School Board goes on the attack. It expressed confidence in the Catholic-Christian message which is its raison d’etre in the Constitution and the Laws of Ontario. Catholic Separate schools are given a special evangelizing obligation to defend and promote their ‘belief system’.
At a press conference yesterday, following up on Monday’s riveting Board meeting, which resulted in the rejection of a Motion to fly “the flag”, Chair Frank Alexander stressed that YCDSB cannot/should not accept symbols that “do not align with Catholic values”.
Pressed by reporters, he elaborated that if schools were to decide to do otherwise, “then they [would] go counter to [Board] policy […] and there are consequences”. He cited as guides the Constitutional freedoms guaranteed to Catholics and the official positions of Church prelates, Cardinal Collins and Archbishop Fabbro of London.
He was too polite to add that ‘if there’s no harm’ to flying a “specific fabric”, there is probably no measurable benefit to for those who continue to align themselves with Catholic values. Insistence on the accusation that the YCDSB needs to secure “safe spaces” is a veiled offence at the validity of Catholicism itself – an allegation that he dismissed as incongruent with reality.
Chair Alexander pointed out the Board has a flag policy: the Canadian flag, the Ontario flag, and some room for the Vatican flag. There is no law compelling any government- backed institution to fly any other flag.
The Motion should never have seen the light of day. At the Agenda-setting meeting of May 23, the Executive Committee rejected the effort to delegate (on the flag) by “outside lobbyists”, who included intrusive members from other school boards. Similarly, the Director was firmly instructed to ensure his report not contain any recommendations in this regard.
The Director’s disrespect for that instruction earned Domenic Scuglia a very public reprimand. The perspective of this observer, the implications cannot provide much comfort to Director Scuglia’s sense of control and personal leadership.
Rarely, in these last four years, has a Board Chair been so grounded in facts, or data prior to reaching a decision. All this was preceded by the presentation of a Report outlining the student demographic (illustrated with charts and mathematics) of YCDSB: who, how and why students feel “marginalized”, “insecure”, “excluded”, “bullied”; and what they felt would be the best solutions going forward. None of those solutions included flying “the flag”.
Scuglia may be “flying solo”, as the expression goes; or he is consulting with his counterpart in TCDSB, Brendan Browne. The report was authored in 2021.
For three years YCDSB’s director has done nothing with/about it. Yet the root causes of disparities [leading to the need for safe spaces] were/are clear: race, economic risk, recent arrival to Canada, and aboriginal status.
The two most time-consuming items on the agenda? The “flag” and Scuglia’s “Truth and Reconciliation” trip to Saskatchewan with 22 students and three adults. The Ministry did not authorize this out of province exercise. That a story for another article.
The Police, for the fourth straight month were called to restore order, as the lobbyists screamed their disapproval of the vote.
In the pics above: Paolo De Buono (on the left) and the Police at the YCDSB during the board of trustees that rejected the Pride flag (photo: Raul Lima)