TORONTO, November 14, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — An embattled Toronto Catholic school trustee who has been under a year-long attack by LGBT activists, their allies on the board, and more recently, members of the provincial legislature, is now fighting back.
Michael Del Grande has lawyered up and is launching an appeal after eight Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB) trustees voted during an often rancorous and chaotic seven-hour meeting on Wednesday to revisit code of conduct complaints of which he was cleared in August.
This time, the trustees voted that Del Grande’s comments from a year ago in defense of Catholic teaching and in opposition to gender ideology violated the board’s code of conduct and were “disrespectful to the LGBTQ community as a whole.”
They voted to sanction Del Grande by requesting he make a public apology, attend an equity course, and be banned from representing the board for three months.
They also voted to release a redacted version of the confidential report investigating the complaints against Del Grande, which was leaked to the Toronto Star days before the meeting and characterized by that liberal newspaper as “damning.”
The eight trustees who voted for all this are: Markus de Domenico, board chair Joe Martino, Frank D’Amico, Daniel Di Giorgio, Norm Di Pasquale, Angela Kennedy, Ida Li Preti, and Maria Rizzo, with Kennedy switching her vote in August to clear Del Grande.
Campaign Life Coalition has started a crowdfunding campaign, Stand With Michael Del Grande, to finance Del Grande’s legal defense.
Complaints date back to fight over gender ideology
Pro-LGBT trustee Markus de Domenico, who is running for chair of the board, was a driving force behind Wednesday’s meeting, which was called specifically to reopen complaints against Del Grande.
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The marathon proceedings included the extraordinary spectacles of Catholic trustees objecting to a delegate reading the Catechism section on homosexuality as “dangerous,” and Ontario’s lesbian ex-premier and current MPP Kathleen Wynne lecturing the board on how to run Catholic schools, and being thanked by several trustees for doing so.
The complaints against Del Grande date back to the now infamous “slippery slope” motion he tabled on November 7, 2019, the night the same eight trustees voted to amend the board’s code of conduct to include the terms “family status and marital status,” and “gender expression” and “gender identity” as protected categories.
Along with trustees Nancy Crawford, Garry Tanuan, and Teresa Lubinski, Del Grande objected to the amendment as an endorsement of gender ideology in contradiction of Catholic teaching.
His motion asked the board to refer the matter to committee to study whether it should add other aberrant sexual behaviors, such as pedophilia and bestiality, as protected categories under the code.
He later said the motion, which was ruled out of order, was “hyperbolic” and intended to underscore the consequences of the amendment, but in the relentless attack by LGBT activists that followed he was pilloried in the media and accused of “comparing homosexuals to violent criminals.”
Lesbian ex-premier berates Catholic trustees
That’s how Wynne described the alleged offence during her delegation, although when asked by trustee Nancy Crawford, she could not coherently explain exactly how she came to that conclusion.
Wynne, who as premier brought in a controversial sex-education program that sparked widespread parental protests, also reminisced about “coming out” at age 37 when she had “three little kids.” (At that point, her now “spouse,” Jane Rounthwaite, moved in with her, and Wynne’s husband moved into the basement.)
About a week earlier, Wynne raised the matter at Queen’s Park on behalf of LGBT activist and former Catholic student trustee Kyle Iannuzzi, and demanded that Del Grande be held accountable for his “homophobic” comments.
In response, Education Minister Stephen Lecce agreed the comments were “deeply disturbing,” and he subsequently contacted the board and requested that it release the confidential report and hold Del Grande accountable.
Wynne assured trustees that while she was taking the “unusual” step of delegating, she didn’t intend to undermine their authority, nor was she there “to question or denigrate the Catholic education system.”
She then proceeded to berate them for clearing Del Grande in August.
“You chose to allow one of your members to thumb his nose at all the years of work” to advance LGBTQ “rights,” said Wynne.
Trustees needed to reverse their decision, find Del Grande guilty, and release the confidential report investigating the complaints against him, she said.
“None of our schools is exempt from compliance with the Ontario Human Rights Code,” Wynne declared.
Trustees took oath to uphold Catholic teaching, but …
This declaration reveals a shocking ignorance — or willful disregard — of Section 19 of the Ontario Human Rights Act, which states clearly that the constitutionally protected denominational rights of Catholic schools supersede all other rights.
Section 19 says: “This Act shall not be construed to adversely affect any right or privilege respecting separate schools enjoyed by separate school boards or their supporters under the Constitution Act, 1867 and the Education Act.”
Far more shocking, however, is that the trustees who voted to find Del Grande in violation of the code of conduct also seem to be unaware — or are willfully dismissive — of the constitutionally protected denominational rights of Catholic schools, despite swearing an oath of office to uphold Catholic teaching.
Indeed, this same board voted against reciting the St. Michael’s Prayer at the beginning of the meetings, and on November 7, 2019, de Domenico appeared to claim that Catholic schools no longer believe homosexuality and transgenderism is wrong.
“It was an older version of Catholic teaching that is a judgmental teaching, a version of Catholic teaching which didn’t accept a child or a young adult for who they are,” he said then, in response to a delegation by aforementioned homosexual activist Iannuzzi.
“Our system that we have now does not believe in the issues that gave Kyle and the folks like Kyle that kind of bullying problem. Fundamentally, we don’t believe in it,” de Domenico added.
The situation was not helped when board administration produced a report the night of the vote stating that the archdiocese approved the addition of the gender terms, a statement at least one delegate questioned at the time.
Four days later, the archdiocese issued a statement on behalf of Cardinal Thomas Collins, which said, in part: “Ministry of Education policy, PPM 128, directs that the prohibited grounds of discrimination found in the Ontario Human Rights Code be included in updated Codes of Conduct for all school boards in Ontario.”
It then added: “While the archdiocese recognizes that terms such as gender identity are included in the Code, we do not accept the view of the human person which underlies this terminology, since that view is not compatible with our faith.”
‘This is, in my opinion, abominable’: Crawford
Longtime TCDSB-watcher Joe Volpe, publisher of the Italian-language daily newspaper Corriere Canadese, denounced Wednesday’s proceedings in a stinging critique.
“I felt the need to take a shower after witnessing their behaviour — a hyena-like pack of predators fighting over their wounded prey. It was a sad morning — the bloodshed did not end until 2:30 am,” Volpe commented.
The meeting was marked by “malice and viciousness oozing from the interventions of trustees like Rizzo, Li Preti, De Domenico (identified as a bullying misogynist by one delegate), Di Pasquale,” he said.
He underscored trustee Crawford’s reaction to the sanctions initially proposed by Di Pasquale (a six month’s suspension, later reduced to three when Martino also protested it was too “harsh”) as “very extreme” and far more severe than any others the board had levied.
“This is, in my opinion, abominable,” she said. “I will not be supporting it.”
But in a curious twist, four trustees — Martino, Crawford, D’Amico, and Di Giorgio — voted against suspending Del Grande from attending all board and committee meeting for three months.
Since sanctions require two-thirds majority of the full board, that part of Di Pasquale’s motion failed to pass.
So, it appears that Del Grande, although stripped of his chair and vice chair positions on various committees, is free to attend meetings — including the November 26 caucus meeting where the next board chair will be elected.
Meanwhile, trustees Tanuan and Lubinski recused themselves after a motion to move into private session lost on a tie, with Lubinski citing a legal opinion that revisiting the matter was illegal. (Di Giorgio, Li Preti, de Domenico, Di Pasquale, and Kennedy voted against going into private session.) Del Grande likewise refrained from voting.
The meeting began late as the first private session went overtime, and after 90 minutes of fractious procedural squabbling, the board heard from 12 delegations, with six against, and six for Del Grande.
The latter included Teresa Pierre, president of Parents As First Educators, and Josie Luetke, coordinator for Campaign Life Coalition Youth, both of whom noted that Del Grande’s ill-starred attempt to defend the Catholicity of TCDSB schools was a standard reductio ad absurdum argument.
“Essentially, if protecting members of the school community requires listing each and every subgroup they could possibly belong to, logically, that could lead to listing very bizarre, obscure, and, yes, harmful subgroups,” explained Luetke.
“Since this is an absurd and untenable conclusion, we must reject the underlying premise too.”
Moreover, noted Luetke, to suggest that Del Grande’s motion compared homosexuality to criminal behavior is at best “a total misunderstanding of his argument, and, at worst, it’s a malicious lie.”
Campaign Life is urging all concerned Catholics to donate to Del Grande’s legal defense fund. To donate, go here: www.wonderwe.com/StandWithMike
Concerned Catholics are also urged to contact the following persons to respectfully express their views:
Cardinal Thomas Collins
Archdiocese of Toronto
1155 Yonge Street
Phone:416-934-0606, ext. 609
Email: [email protected]