Author: Hon. Joe Volpe

Canada Education Matters Featured GTA Ontario

YCDSB: Biting the ‘Italian hand’ that feeds you

TORONTO – Five trustees in the York Catholic District School Board (YCDSB) have had enough of the climate of discrimination being tolerated, if not nurtured, by some of their colleagues against Italians and Catholicism. Yes, you read that correctly, against Italians, in 2022.

They appear to be an easy target. There are so many of them in York Region. In fact, two Federal/Provincial ridings (King-Vaughan and Vaughan Woodbridge) are home to 110,000 people who self-identified as being of Italian origin in the 2016 Census. Including those from other areas of Vaughan (Maple, Concord), they comprise 38% of the population in that city. While not as dominant in the Eastern part of York Region, there are sizeable numbers in Newmarket, Aurora, Richmond Hill, Thornhill Stouffville and Markham.

They are predominantly Catholic. Without them, the York Catholic District School Board might well cease to exist. For some unexpressed reason that bothers people… not all, but some trustees resent the influence the impact of such numbers brings.

One trustee in particular, Theresa Mc Nicol, began a public social media “campaign” suggesting that there would be earth shattering revelations at the upcoming August 30, 2022, Board meeting and encouraging all her followers to attend in person. She sent a similar invitation to the Corriere Canadese, without particulars. Shortly after posting the message, McNicol sent the same message in Italian.

When asked why she was communicating in Italian, she apparently made the comment, “that’s the only way ‘they’ will understand…”. In fact, several email responses from McNicol were written in Italian. Corriere Canadese has asked for a copy of those emails, but, as of going to print, no one from the Board has responded.

Furthermore, evidently, through subsequent communication, she expressed [alleged] discomfort in the presence of her ‘Italian’ colleagues and a sense of insecurity for her personal safety, even in the sanctuary of the Board offices, implying a relationship with the American underworld. She emailed the Chair suggesting it might be prudent to engage security as a sign of an abundance of caution. This is 2022.

Four of the five trustees (Maria Iafrate, Maria Marchese, Domenic Mazzotta and Dino Giuliani) were born and raised in Canada, and Trustee Cantisano, who was born in Italy, immigrated to Canada at the age of three. All 5 Trustees are upstanding Canadian Citizens. Dino Giuliani has been a Trustee for the last 25 years. Domenic Mazzotta, also a previous Chair, has been a civic minded activist since very early in the 1980s.

All of them are motivated by a sense of civic duty. None of them deserved to be tarred by the besmirching of their heritage. Or to be treated as second-class citizens in their own home.

Regrettably, it seems an attitudinal problem at the YCDSB. When Cantisano and Iafrate attended their first Board meeting after the last election, the then Chair stated “oh great, two more Italians”. In a meeting with former Minister of Health, Christine Elliot, current Chair Crowe wistfully noted that the staff at the YCDSB was “predominantly Italian”. To her credit, Elliot asked, “What’s wrong with that?”.

But the request that the police be called to secure the safety of non-Italian trustees from the potential danger posed by the “Italians” was the proverbial last straw. The sting of discrimination directed at the ‘Italians’ was palpable and no longer ignorable. Its latest manifestation warranted action.

Dino Giuliani insisted that the police investigate McNicol’s not so subtle allegations. His colleagues agreed. As expected, the police found absolutely NOTHING; because there was nothing to investigate, nothing that would cause concern to even the most innocent of children.

They also called on the Ministry of Education to investigate and are exploring a Human Rights complaint. The Ministry responded with an offer to conduct a meeting in camera on August 16th. Such a meeting falls outside the parameters of permissible “private meetings” of any school board. Besides, the allegations made by Mc Nicol are already in the public domain. Their solutions should be aired publicly.

Trustees Cantisano, Giuliani, Iafrate, Marchese and Mazzotta have declined the offer to attend that private meeting and are considering absenting themselves from any subsequent ones until the matter is resolved to their satisfaction. Their absence would deprive the YCDSB of the required quorum to legitimize any meeting’s deliberations.

Corriere’s calls and emails to the Minister and the Ministry have so far gone unanswered. A last minute response by the YCDSB Chair and Director provided generic responses regarding courses of action that may not be applicable within the 90 days period preceding election day.

Ironically, the actions, utterances and postings of Mc Nicol and others would be reasons enough to disqualify them from seeking public office under a partisan party banner.

Canada Education Matters GTA Italian Ontario Toronto

Trasparenza e responsabilità principi dimenticati al TCDSB

TORONTO – La parodia che circonda la “disposizione” delle accuse delle presunte violazioni del codice di condotta mosse contro il fiduciario Daniel Di Giorgio ha chiarito diverse cose. Il rapporto lanciato contro di lui è stato inventato senza senso, fabbricato per gettare discredito sul suo nome, giusto in tempo per le elezioni.

Read More in Corriere Canadese >>>
Canada Featured Ontario Toronto

Transparency and accountability forgotten at TCDSB

TORONTO – The travesty surrounding the of the “disposition” of the allegations of the alleged code of conduct breaches levelled against trustee Daniel Di Giorgio made several things clear. The report levelled against him was trumped up nonsense manufactured to bring his name into disrepute, just in time for the elections.

What we did learn is that the Integrity Commissioner (IC) does not work for the Board of trustees. Rather, he/she submits a report to the Board, but it must first clear the desk of the Secretary/Director of the Board, Brendan Browne. As it turned out, he and his staff can and do change the report to suit their perceived obligations or objectives. That is a dangerous arrogation of authority. Now he is faced with a demand by a member of the public and registered candidate who is determined to have access to similar procedure before the August 19.

The IC has no authority to do anything other than to determine whether an investigation has merit; compile and report findings and remind Trustees of their options should they agree to accept his/her recommendations. According to Secretary/Director Browne, once the IC submits the report, it belongs to the Board, meaning the Director who then can redact, alter, or otherwise change the content at his discretion.

We know this because he says so. As Marc Anthony’s Shakespeare said of Brutus: and he is an honourable man. We know this to be true because Secretary/Director Browne hired a platoon of lawyers to provide legal advice on the appropriateness of what he was trying to accomplish over the objections of reasonable trustees on the Board.

The report was not going anywhere, despite the sloppy intimidation tactics by attempted against Di Giorgio.

The former IC, who took their “expertise” to the City of Brampton sometime in April, resigned in May, but hung on until Mid-June to “lend weight” to their own personal views about Di Giorgio, the Corriere and its publisher – and to collect more “billable hours”.

Secretary/Director Browne must relish the vainglorious exercise to squander public money on legal entities who will opine on the merits of his musings on policy and procedure while he manipulates certain trustees to do his bidding, especially the nefarious gang of four who will allege anything, slur and smear anyone to avoid fulfilling their duty to Catholic electors. Anything to keep people off balance, so to speak. It worked, in part, against trustee Del Grande. It is unlikely to work against people like the trustee candidate Gabriella Mazarakis. Meanwhile, according to an insider who has seen the invoices, last year, Brendan Browne authorized a pay out in excess of $1,000,000.00 to outside legal counsel just as the TCDSB is facing student shortages, reduced revenues and teacher agitation. Children have to do without.

In house legal advisors, on the other hand, are supplemented by other legal opinion generators from law firms like BLG, Aird Berlis, ADR, Principles Integrity (it is a real name), and the Parliamentarian.

None of them were elected to discharge the obligations that trustees have to the parents who put them around the Board table.

None of their opinions on procedure can restore the ethical behaviour, lost, but still legally demanded and expected of trustees elected to uphold the Catholic ethic.

Canada Commentary Featured GTA Ontario

TCDSB rejects IC report: fallout, part one

TORONTO – Catholic Schools exist because the Constitution, the Charter of Rights and the Education Act recognize and protect their existence; so does the Human Rights Code. Catholic ratepayers are expected to contribute, and do so contribute, to their financial stability.

The former Integrity Commissioner of the TCDSB seems to have had trouble understanding those fundamental concepts when he/they made themselves an instrument of others’ questionable attacks on trustees who comprehend and discharge their role. It started with the concocted attack on Del Grande in November 2019 and ended with the failed attempted defamation of Di Giorgio on August 10, 2022.

So, what is the role of Catholic trustees?

A certain Gabriella Mazarakis researched The Trustee Code of Conduct outlined in A.04 on the Board’s website. It says, in part… “Trustees are expected to discharge their duties and responsibilities in a professional and ethical manner consistent with Gospel Values and the teachings of the Catholic Church… That standard includes upholding the Catholic Faith and adhering to the Oath of Office taken each year at the Caucus meeting.”

…Unless you are a member of the infamous gang of four trustees at the TCDSB. Then the rules may not apply to you – you are woke, a cancel culture zealot – you make them up as you go along… until you are called out for misuse, if not abuse, of your position.

That’s what has happened to Markus De Domenico, charter member of the self-proclaimed authority of how to be an ethical Catholic trustee. Bang, just like that, Gabriella Mazarakis, has effectively asked the TCDSB and the Interim Integrity Commissioner to disqualify De Domenico from holding office for breaches of those “rules”.

Mazarakis, a mother of school-aged children, is registered as a candidate to oust the incumbent. Encouraged by the special Board meeting on August 10, called to “punish” trustee Di Giorgio for disagreeing with De Domenico and his ilk, she submitted a request to the new Integrity Commissioner (law firm Aird Berlis) that it investigate and report a finding of fault in the allegations of egregious violations (emphasis added) of the Trustee Code of Conduct and perhaps Conflict of Interest guidelines committed by De Domenico. What’s good for the goose is good for…

For good measure, she supplied relevant sections of the Code of Conduct and the Conflict-of-interest guidelines, together with pictures revealing Markus in flagrante delicto to support the allegations. It is a copious document. She has done the research for the Integrity Commissioner.

Mazarakis pointed out violation after violation, including a ten-page newsletter, an election brochure churned out at Board expense and distributed via Board resources. She made specific reference to the Political Activity and Campaigning Policy A.40 of the Board.

It may be worth noting for Municipal election officials that De Domenico also started a finance campaign prior to registering his candidacy, as required by the Municipal Elections Act.

Mazarakis, however, raised the question of electoral integrity and fairness with the City of Toronto Municipal Elections department who manage Trustee Elections. Mazarakis’ letter points out that “they have the same black out period for complaints and similar policies regarding use of City resources on election campaign sites as TCDSB”.

She highlights that, however, “in the case of alleged violations of election policies such as those [she has] described herein, [the complaints] are dealt with immediately to ensure election integrity and fairness.” She demands that the TCDSB do the same.

Otherwise, willful breaches of the Act may compromise the election and result in unfair advantage to the perpetrator, De Domenico.

Not content with the IC’s apparent docility to take on the task, she sent her concerns to the Director and all the trustees. Again, receiving no reply, she sent a letter demanding action to the Board, copying the Corriere Canadese and the Toronto Star.

We think she deserves a hearing.

Canada Editorials Education Matters Italian News Updates Ontario Toronto

TCDSB: IC, colossale spreco di tempo e soldi

TORONTO – “Farisei, scribi e peccatori”: è la descrizione utilizzata dalla fiduciaria Nancy Crawford (nella foto sopra) che cercava di riportare i suoi colleghi in sé sulla questione, prima della riunione di emergenza al Toronto Catholic District School Board, mercoledì sera. Stava invocando l’immagine biblica della tentata “lapidazione di una donna smarrita” nel tentativo di mettere in prospettiva le questioni e di fornire una “guida”. Avrebbe potuto risparmiare il fiato… Read More in Corriere Canadese >>> 

Canada Editorials Education Matters English Featured News Updates Ontario Toronto

TCDSB: IC, a colossal waste of time and money

TORONTO – “Pharisees, Scribes and Sinners”. That’s the choice of descriptors used by trustee Nancy Crawford trying to bring her colleagues to their senses, on the issue before the emergency meeting at the Toronto Catholic District School Board, last night. She was invoking the Biblical image of the attempted “stoning of a fallen woman” in an attempt to put issues in perspective and to provide “guidance”. 

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Canada Editorials Italian News Updates Ontario Politics

Brampton, lezione di principi e di integrità

TORONTO – Potrebbe essere il Selvaggio West americano, ma si tratta proprio del nostro cortile. Non si sa come, ma una cittadinanza cinica ha accettato il concetto che non esiste un comportamento onorevole ed etico tra coloro che cercano una carica politica al servizio del pubblico. L’era di Cincinnato non esiste più… Read More in Corriere Canadese >>> 

Canada Editorials English Faith & Religion Featured News Updates World News

Well-deserved shame on CBC, national divisive broadcaster

 

TORONTO – Where will the CBC – Canada’s National Broadcaster – go next in pursuit of a story now that the Pope has returned to Vatican City? Who cares, you say? You would be right, if it were not for the fact that it is a divisive, bigoted, purveyor of fake news. And it costs the taxpayer about $1.5 Billion annually (2021 federal budget figures). 

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Canada Editorials Faith & Religion Italian News Updates

Le scuse papali non piacciono agli anticattolici

TORONTO – Questo pellegrinaggio penitenziale del Pontefice Massimo, Papa Francesco, è per me un classico esempio di evento fondato sul concetto di voler “fare ciò che è giusto”. Si manifesta nella suprema pazienza di un uomo molto anziano, che soffre personalmente il dolore fisico, assumendo il peso dei danni (reali e percepiti) inflitti agli altri da elementi della Chiesa che conduce in un’epoca con la quale non ha legami personali… Read More in Corriere Canadese >>> 

Canada Editorials English Faith & Religion Featured News Updates World News

Nothing can satisfy anti-catholics

TORONTO – This penitential pilgrimage of the Pontifex Maximus, Pope Francis, is, for me, a classic example of an event grounded in the concept of wanting to “do what is right”. It manifests itself in the supreme patience of a very old man, personally suffering physical pain, assuming the weight of the harms (real and perceived) foisted on others by elements in the Church he leads in an era with which he had no personal attachment. 

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Canada Editorials Faith & Religion Italian

La visita del Papa, fra realtà e “giornalismo”

TORONTO – Piangi per il giornalismo canadese. Non mi riferisco alla varietà di “impresa privata” il cui chiaro mandato è guidato da un imperativo implacabile di soddisfare le richieste mensili di buste paga e i requisiti operativi per rimanere a galla e rilevanti per i loro lettori. Piuttosto, sii rattristato dal “falso giornalismo” offerto da rapporti e commenti quasi statali su questioni che dovrebbero aiutare a definire chi siamo come Paese e come società… Read More in Corriere Canadese >>> 

Canada Editorials English Faith & Religion News Updates

Papal visit tests and shatters “journalistic” expectations

TORONTO – Weep for Canadian journalism. Not the “private enterprise” variety whose clear mandate is driven by an unforgiving imperative to meet the monthly payroll demands and operational requirements to stay afloat and relevant to their readership. Rather, be saddened by the “faux journalism” offered by quasi-State reporting and commentary on issues that should help define who we are as a country and a society.

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Canada Editorials Education Matters Italian Toronto

Caciara al Toronto Catholic District School Board

TORONTO – Ieri sera, sono uscito dalla riunione del Toronto Catholic District School Board con diverse impressioni da condividere in particolare con i nostri 177.000 residenti di Toronto che si identificano etnicamente come italiani; più in generale con i circa 1.000.000 residenti di Toronto che sono teoricamente cattolici e, infine, con altri fiduciari dei consigli scolastici dei distretti cattolici dell’Ontario… Read More in Corriere Canadese >>> 

Canada Editorials Education Matters English Featured Toronto

Bedlam at the Toronto Catholic District School Board

TORONTO – I came away from last night’s Meeting of the Toronto Catholic District School Board with several impressions to share specifically with our 177,000 Toronto residents who self-identify ethnically as Italian; more generally with the roughly 1,000,000 Torontonians who are nominally Catholic, and finally with other Catholic District School Board Trustees in Ontario. 

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Canada Editorials Italian News Updates Ontario Politics

Comportamento immorale e illegale persistente

TORONTO – Quella di ieri è stata l’ultima riunione del consiglio di Toronto. Non per essere meschino, ma a meno che tu non stessi seguendo le ultime richieste wokist, o le riflessioni del suo sommo sacerdote, il Sindaco Tory, avresti potuto pensare che il Consiglio non avesse fatto nulla per meritare il riconoscimento per aver speso tanti miliardi di dollari dei tuoi sudati guadagni… Read More in Corriere Canadese >>> 

Canada Editorials English Featured News Updates Politics

Unethical and Illegal Behaviour Persists in Brampton

TORONTO – Today was the last council meeting for Toronto. Not to be petty, but unless you were tracking the latest wokist demands, or the musings of its high priest Mayor Tory, you might have thought that the Council had done nothing to merit acknowledgement for spending upwards of upwards of the many Billions of dollars of your hard-earned money. 

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Canada Editorials Italian Politics World News

Da “svantaggiato a oppressore”: Wokisti all’attacco

TORONTO – La corsa alla leadership del partito conservatore britannico si sta trasformando in uno spettacolo transfobico – CNN. Questo è il titolo di un articolo sulla CNN, aggiornato da Tara John, il 18 luglio, che porta a un’ultima settimana di selezioni per il ballottaggio per determinare il prossimo leader del Partito Conservatore e Primo Ministro della Gran Bretagna… Read More in Corriere Canadese >>> 

Canada Editorials Italian News Updates Politics Toronto

Cosa sta succedendo a Brampton?

TORONTO – Mi vengono in mente le immagini di una “sparatoria all’OK Corral”. Per i seguaci della tradizione e della leggenda del Wild West americano in cui una banda di teppisti ha regolato i propri conti con un’altra fuori da un fienile attraverso l’uso abile di armi da fuoco piuttosto che con il dibattito in un tribunale. Il modo americano. O l’usanza inglese a’ la Guerra delle Due Rose. O i gangster americani che si spartiscono territori nei centri urbani… Read More in Corriere Canadese >>> 

Canada Editorials English Featured News Updates Politics

What is going on in Brampton?

TORONTO – Images of a “shoot-out at the OK Corral” come to mind. For the followers of American Western lore and legend where one gang of thugs settled theirs scores with another outside a barn through adept use of firearms rather than debate in a Court of law. The American way. Or the English custom a’ la War of the Roses. Or American gangsters carving up territory in the inner cities. 

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Canada Editorials Italian Ontario Politics

I liberali brancolano nell’incertezza

TORONTO – La politica partitica può essere un ambiente brutale. Le relazioni all’interno del partito, anche nei momenti migliori, raramente riflettono l’amicizia (anche se sono felice di poter dire che posso ancora considerare alcuni ex colleghi e dipendenti come amici). Lealtà e fiducia sono virtù che si trovano solo in circoli rari. Adesione ai principi e agli obiettivi nazionali… beh, puoi facilmente immaginare… Read More in Corriere Canadese >>> 

Canada Editorials English Featured Ontario Politics

Liberals groping in the dark for directions

TORONTO – Partisan politics can be a brutal environment. Intra-party relationships, even at the best of times, rarely reflect friendship (although I am happy to say I can still refer to some former colleagues and staff as friends). Loyalty and trust are virtues found only in rarified circles. Adherence to national principles and goals… well, you can imagine. 

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Canada Economy Editorials Family Living Italian News Updates

È incosciente il comportamento di Rogers

TORONTO – Per gli utenti del gigante delle telecomunicazioni, Rogers, sono stati tre giorni terribili, dal punto di vista della connettività. A meno che non sia utenti di un altro gigante delle comunicazioni (ad esempio, Bell), si è diventati quasi immediatamente parte di un sistema economico basato solo sul contante, un comunicatore di persona o un divorziato dalla televisione “da un momento all’altro”. In altre parole, si è tornati indietro nel tempo fino agli anni ’50… Read More in Corriere Canadese >>> 

Canada Economy Editorials English Family Living Featured News Updates

Unacceptable conduct by Rogers Communications

TORONTO – It has been a terrible three days, from a connectivity perspective, for users of the telecommunications giant, Rogers. Unless one is a user of another communications’ giant (i.e.., Bell), you almost immediately became part of a cash only economic system, an in-person communicator or a “cold-turkey” divorcee of television. In other words, you stepped back in time to the 1950s. 

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Canada Editorials Italian News Updates Politics

Patrick Brown dichiara guerra al PC

TORONTO – Patrick Brown, madre e moglie entrambe italiane, è sindaco di Brampton e, fino alla notte tra il 5 e il 6 giugno, anche candidato alla guida del Partito Conservatore. Tramite i suoi avvocati dell’Henein Hutchison LLP, Patrick Brown ha notificato formalmente l’intenzione di appellare la decisione del “Dispute Resolutions Appeals Committee”, presieduto da Don Nightingale, secondo la quale lui (Brown) sarebbe stato squalificato dalla corsa alla leadership del Partito… Read More in Corriere Canadese >>> 

Canada Editorials English Featured News Updates Politics

Patrick Brown declares war to PC

TORONTO – Patrick Brown, whose mother and wife are both Italian, is the Mayor of Brampton and, until the middle of the night between June 5 and June 6, also a candidate for the Conservative Party leadership.

Via his lawyers at Henein Hutchison LLP, Patrick Brown formally served notice of intention to appeal the decision by the “Dispute Resolutions Appeals Committee”, Chaired by Don Nightingale, that he (Brown) be disqualified from the Party’s leadership race.

The Party accepted the recommendation. Presumably, his entrance fee of $350,000 will not be refunded to him. From a “practical, logistical” point of view, his approximately 150,000 members who paid their $15 each to join the Party in support of his candidacy are also out of luck. The party will keep the approximately two and a quarter million dollars.

The sources of those funds may be at the centre of the controversy that led to “the investigation” and to his dismissal. No one knows for sure. Walid Soliman, a lawyer, is the Finance Chair of the Brown for Leader campaign.

Heinen Hutchison LLP rejects any allusions to or allegations of impropriety by Patrick Brown or his team. They emphasize: “To be clear, Mr. Brown has engaged in absolutely no misconduct.”

Moreover, they point to the process’ unfairness towards their client. They admonish the Appeals Committee, through Don Nightingale (Chief Returning Officer) for its “refusal to specify the allegations grounding [its] recommendation…”. They add that Patrick Brown “refuted the paltry information [the Appeals Committee] provided and repeatedly asked for particulars.”

On that topic, in an interview on Radio 1010, June 6, Party president Robert Batherson appeared to suggest that his organization had made efforts to resolve issues but that everyone was concerned about the allegations (not proven) and the criminal charges that could be laid once Elections Canada would complete its investigation.

When pressed on the numbers pro and con on the Appeals Committee, Mr. Batherson declined to confirm or deny the alleged votes registered on the dismissal recommendation (11 for, 6 against, and 6 abstentions). He preferred instead to say the matter was now in the hands of Elections Canada, and there is no way to remedy the situation now.

Heinen Hutchison LLP saw the entire process as “Kafkaesque”, “politically motivated” and with a “preordained result”. They served a second letter, a Litigation Hold, to Ian Brodie, Chair of the leadership Election Organizing Committee, advising him and anyone else associated with the decision to prepare and preserve all communications in any platform they may have been a party to in respect of Mr. Brown.

It may be easy to forget that there are five other candidates still in the race and that there are another 530,000 other membership forms that the Party must vet before the vote two months from now.

Meanwhile, all indications suggest Patrick Brown will re-offer for as Mayor of Brampton.

Corriere was unable due to print deadlines to effect a direct interview with the mayor or his Finance Chair.

In the pics above, the letters (EXCLUSIVE CORRIERE CANADESE)

Canada Editorials Education Matters English Featured

School boards reject remedial strategies and obligations

TORONTO – Following Monday’s summary of the “educational environment” at the TCDSB, several trustees and Senior staff from Boards of Education in the greater GTA weighed in “on background” to inform us that the situation may be worse than what we described. 

In their view, some “bad apples” who have been given “an easy ride” are putting the entire publicly funded school system (Catholic and Public) at risk.

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