Education Matters English Opinion

Tcdsb in court: Life is a constant exchange of ideas and points of views

TORONTO – You know that there is no longer any use in talking if your views can only be resolved before a Court of Law. In that event, ideology is measured and quantified in terms of Rights and Money/Cost. At that point, one is no longer an exchange of ideas and points of view.

Catholic educators, for example, are being put on their heels by those now making the argument that publicly funded institutions have no right to protect and promote the very essence of their being. In other words, the Right you earned, paid for, and continue to pay, can be withdrawn by someone with a louder more forceful voice – just because… Well, to be blunt, just because they disagree with, and have an innate antipathy for, the social construct in which you want to raise your children.

“Weak-kneed Defenders” of that construct should be encouraged that that Right is enshrined in the country’s Constitution, the supreme law of the land. It is recognized by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and codified in the Education Act, repeated in the Memorandum of Understanding that the Attorney General inserts as part of any legislation setting up a junior authority. It is further recognized and respected by the Human Rights Code, which does not displace the rights of Roman Catholic citizens under the above legislation.

Moreover, without “getting into the weeds” of funding formulae, Catholic parents can and do direct their property taxes to finance their Catholic, faith-based, schools. In other words, they do not need to apologize for where they spend their money.

Despite these protections, they still need to be vigilant on two fronts.

First, who is/are the messenger( s) of the Catholic ethic which sustains and justifies the existence of the educational system; for example, is that message/messenger consistent with the Church’s position proclaimed ex-cathedra? Remember, faith is voluntary – if you disagree with the Church’s interpretation of fundamental religious principles, “you can get out.”

It should not come as a shock to Catholic school board trustees that the authoritative voice for those principles is neither City Council nor, in fact, the local school board nor radical activists on Twitter. Trustees take an oath of allegiance to that magisterium, the local bishop, every year. Unless they believe, as a matter of course, that perjury is an acceptable modus operandi, one condition of holding office is respect for the message and messenger. Otherwise, why seek that elected office?

Second, Catholic parents, as indeed all taxpayers, must hold their trustees and staff to account for the management of resources assigned to the instructional component (and attendant necessary capital assets) of their children’s skills development. Trustees/staff cannot wander off on petty and personal agendas at school board (parental) expense. If they incur legal expenses in their flights of fancy, they pay their own freight.

Most, unfortunately, several trustees at the TCDSB have put themselves, and their board, in an unhappy legal difficulty. The TCDSB is faced with defending an application for Judicial Review resulting from a series of governance decisions, made by its trustees, which have disrupted the stable delivery of both the Catholic and skills component of its mandate. The eventual costs for the TCDSB may reach into the tens of millions of dollars.

Additionally, the conduct of those same trustees has already attracted lawsuits totalling in the tens of millions of dollars by ratepayers and news outlets for perceived libel, defamation and other business-related torts.

 

This week, the TCDSB will decide whether or not to assume the legal costs – and with them, corporate responsibility – for the actions of a few. Who is caring for the children?

Moreover, last week, the Pope’s statements regarding gender identity issues placed the trustees on the wrong side of canon law and Catholic values. This week, the focus will begin to shift towards the extent to which they may be offending secular law and the Courts of the Land. If they participate in the discussion or vote on the matter they will be in a conflict of interest.

Which parents should pay for their “Right” to do that?

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