OTTAWA, Jan. 7, 2012 ( – Despite their claims to the contrary, Ottawa’s Catholic school board knew that a school trip to Ohio in advance of the presidential election was focused on campaigning for pro-abortion President Barack Obama, according to newly-uncovered internal documents.

The school board cancelled the November trip involving 52 students from St. Peter and St. Matthew High Schools after a firestorm erupted in response to a LifeSiteNews story published Oct. 31st.

The school board has consistently claimed the students were merely going to “observe” the electoral process rather than engage in partisan campaigning. St. Peter’s High School principal Norma McDonald told the Ottawa Sun on Nov. 2nd that the students “were going to observe the electoral process there.”


“They were going to take in a few activities where they were going to observe politics in action. Were they out campaigning? Absolutely not,” she said.

But internal documents, obtained through a freedom of information request, reveal that the trip’s organizer, civics teacher Scott Searle, was clear from the beginning that the trip was aimed at campaigning for Obama.

The field trip proposal, signed by McDonald and board superintendent Manon Seguin on Oct. 2nd, states that the two purposes of the trip were for students to be “volunteering with ‘Obama for America’ for the last 5 days of the 2012 Presidential Election,” and to help with the President’s “get out the vote” campaign by making phone calls and canvassing.

“I’m not sure what kind of penance a priest would give for lying to an entire city, but Catholic school principal Norma McDonald may soon find out,” writes Sun News Network’s Brian Lilley, who broke news of the internal documents in the Ottawa Sun this morning. “It is clear McDonald either lied to the media and the public last fall or had no clue what she was agreeing to when she approved a controversial field trip.”

“This planned field trip may have started out as a way to teach students about politics, but at the end of the day, the lesson might be one my mother always told me,” he added. “If you lie, you will get caught.”

Asked about the revelation, board spokeswoman Mardi de Kemp told LifeSiteNews, “We won’t be commenting on it.”

The documents obtained from the school board, which include e-mails and memos, show that late on Oct. 31st, as criticism mounted in response to LifeSiteNews’ story, de Kemp e-mailed Searle telling him to “ensure kids/staff are Observing NOT Participating in the U.S. election.”

But Searle had been clear in his promotions for the trip that it was pro-Obama and felt he could not back down. “The kids signed up to volunteer and I would feel I lied to them if I change the itinerary this late,” he replied.

On his Facebook page Oct. 17th, Searle had written about the trip: “52 St. Peter Students are travelling to Ohio for the last week of the election! Lets help the President bring it home!” He also shared a photo on his page of a sign that says: “we are re-electing the President so … volunteer, maybe?


The internal documents include a promotional presentation Searle made to parents and students at St. Peter’s in which he said students would be canvassing for Obama. The presentation included a slide stating, “As Ohio goes, so goes the Nation. Obama for Ohio.”

In October, a student at St. Peter’s told LifeSiteNews anonymously that Searle had been clear in speaking to his class that the trip was to promote Obama. According to the student, Searle engaged in “pleasant banter” with the classroom teacher about how “Romney is a nutbar.”

Searle indicates on his LinkedIn page that he was a “volunteer” with “Obama for America” in 2012.

The Catholic Church in the United States is currently engaged in a high-stakes legal battle with the Obama administration over its controversial HHS mandate, which forces religious institutions to cover contraceptives, sterilizations, and abortion-inducing drugs.

Obama has also earned a reputation as the most pro-abortion president in U.S. history, with a lengthy record of supporting abortion-on-demand through all nine months pregnancy, including supporting partial-birth abortion. The president declared in May that he supports same-sex “marriage.”

McDonald told the CBC that the school cancelled the trip because of complaints by LifeSiteNews readers.

Contact info:

N.B.: Read Composing Effective Communications in Response to LifeSiteNews Reports.

Ottawa Catholic School Board
570 West Hunt Club Road,
Nepean, Ontario,
Canada K2G 3R4
Email: [email protected]
Phone: (613) 224-2222
Fax: (613) 224-5063

Archbishop Terrence Prendergast
1247 Kilborn Place
Ottawa, Ontario K1H 6K9
Phone: 613-738-5025
Fax: 613-738-0130
E-mail: [email protected]