OTTAWA, Ontario, 24 January, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A hundred or more parents packed the Ottawa Catholic School Board (OCSB) office Tuesday night to demand that the board stop approving student trips and events that partner with organizations that are hostile toward the moral teachings of the Catholic Church.
“In a nutshell, we were there to ask the School Board to strengthen existing policies related to school partnerships in light of the scandals that have befallen the school over the last four months,” said Andy Pocrnic, a concerned father who made a presentation at Tuesday night’s meeting, to LifeSiteNews.
Parents expressed their dismay to the board over a number of recent school trips, events, and activities that contained elements that conflicted with Catholic values.
The first incident brought to the board’s attention consisted of two high schools planning a civics trip to campaign for President Obama last October. Parents at the time expressed outrage over the idea of Catholic students campaigning for the “most pro-abortion president we’ve had.” The trip was subsequently canceled.
The second incident was the visit of Justin Trudeau to St. Clare Elementary school during an ‘anti-bullying’ week in November. Trudeau’s appearances at Catholic schools have been a source of controversy due to his positions on social issues. Trudeau, a well-known supporter of same-sex ‘marriage’ and abortion, has openly acknowledged that his views are contrary to Catholic teaching. In a 2009 interview with CBC he said that “as a politician” he has “political positions on gay marriage and on abortion that don’t at all resemble those of the Catholic Church.”
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The third incident that parents brought to the board’s attention is an upcoming ‘social justice’ trip to El Salvador. Students from three different high schools will meet with groups that publicly advocate for legalized abortion, legalized prostitution, the promotion of contraception, and the right to adoption for lesbian couples.
The fourth incident brought forward by parents involves a co-op placement of a St. Paul's high school student with a homosexual activist organization called Jer's Vision. The organization promotes the normalization of homosexuality and partners with the pro-abortion group Canadians for Choice, as well as with pro-prostitution groups such as Maggie's Sex Work and Sexapalooza.
Parents as First Educators (PAFE), the organizers of the meeting, demanded during the meeting that the board make changes to its policy on board partners.
“We would like the policy to be explicit that board partners may not publicly undermine the goals of Catholic education,” PAFE told the board.
“The scandals mentioned have not all come from one teacher, or even one school,” PAFE said. “Rather each involved a different group of individuals and schools, illustrating the failure of existing board policies to prevent these occurrences from happening.”
“Each scandal has contributed in its own way to the public perception of a weakening of our board’s Catholic identity, sowed confusion in the minds of our students and demoralized parents.”
Brian Lilley of SunTV attended the meeting and criticized the board for being unwilling to admit negligence regarding its approval of the civics trip to assist Obama's campaign in Ohio. Lilley presented evidence that the board was well aware of the purpose of the trip, despite its repeated denials that it had anything to do with supporting Obama.
Lilley pointed out during his presentation that the board’s actions have lessened parental confidence in the board's accountability and have called into question its transparency with information.
At the end of the meeting, board trustees offered no comments and had no questions for the presenters.
“They sat in silence and listened,” wrote Suzanne Fortin, a mother and pro-life activist from Ottawa who attend the meeting, in an email to LifeSiteNews. “I think they might have been a bit afraid to spark conflict.”
Despite the Board’s silence, Fortin hopes that the meeting accomplishes “something useful”.
“The question is: will trustees respond positively,” she said.
Director of Education and Secretary Treasurer, Ottawa Catholic School Board
Phone: 613-224-4455 ext 2272
Mark D. Mullan
Chairman, Ottawa Catholic School Board of Trustees