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Teachers’ union pressures Catholic school board to repeal pro-life motion

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BURLINGTON, Ontario, February 12, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – An Ontario Catholic teachers’ union notorious for a leadership that publicly dissents from Catholic moral teaching is pushing a Catholic school board to repeal a motion that upholds the sanctity of human life in a tangible way.

And it might succeed.

Halton Catholic District School Board trustees approved a proposal January 16 to ensure none of its 50 schools raise money for and donate to “any charities or non-profits that publicly support, either directly or indirectly, abortion, contraception, sterilization, euthanasia, or embryonic stem cell research.”

That was too much for the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA).

In a January 22 letter to the board, OECTA representatives Keith Boyd and Nina March objected to the pro-life motion as “needlessly divisive.” And they rebuked the trustees for “taking such a narrow view of Catholic values” and choosing to “interfere” in this way.

“Many of the charities and non-profits that could be affected by this motion do incredible work in our communities and around the world, enhancing health, equity and social justice,” they wrote.

“Our schools often have longstanding relationships with these organizations, and the work of supporting these causes is exactly the sort of contribution that we expect students and graduates to make,” stated the OECTA pair.

OECTA wants the trustees to repeal the motion and, instead, “focus on creating safe, welcoming and inclusive school communities.”

But trustee Anthony Danko says the pro-life motion is needed.

“We have $12 million in school-generated funds across our board, and we know that some of this money is going to charities that are not necessarily consistent with our faith,” he told LifeSiteNews. 

“A motion like this, where we think about where our money’s going and whether it’s consistent with Catholic morality, ought to be standard operating procedure at every Catholic board,” he noted. 

Danko was one of five trustees who voted for the motion, along with sponsor Helen Karabela, Anthony Quinn, John Mark Rowe, and Susan Trites. 

The three trustees who voted against it were Arlene Iantomasi, Paul Marai, and Jane Michael.

The pro-life motion is now in jeopardy because trustee Rowe has asked the board to revisit it at the February 20 board meeting.

Rowe told LifeSiteNews he was influenced by OECTA’s letter “in relationship” to concerns he heard from “four or five” people about the word “indirectly” in the motion. 

They’re alarmed the motion as written will be interpreted to stop students from raising money for local affiliates of sprawling global charities that support abortion, contraception, or euthanasia – but elsewhere in the world, according to Rowe.

Rowe said some people raised concerns that the pro-life motion could affect partners “related to the curriculum.”

The WE Day Movement is a prime example of this, Rowe said, noting that it is “included in the religion program” and has “been very successful and the kids have really embraced it.”

The WE Day Movement, founded by Ontario Catholic school graduates Craig and Marc Kielburger, is an arm of the non-profit WE Charity, which trains children to be agents of change. LifeSiteNews reported previously that the Kielburgers’ Free the Children charity — the forerunner of WE Charity — published fact sheets in 2010 that included abortion as a means of family planning. 

WE Day events for school children often provide platforms to pro-abortion and pro-homosexual politicians and celebrities. The events have showcased pop musicians who have provided sexually charged performances.

Rowe says the trustees won’t be able to amend the pro-life motion at the February 20 meeting, but can re-vote on it.

A tie vote is considered a defeat of the motion, Danko told LifeSiteNews.

OECTA’s letter “doesn’t surprise me,” he added. “But principals and teachers ought to use some discernment as to where monies are going. They need to think with a lens of faith on. And the board looking at this, it is really the board’s purview.” 

Halton Catholic District School Board trustees' contact information: 

Diane Rabenda, Milton Trustee & Chair of the Board
905-632-6314 x. 7185
[email protected]

Paul Marai, Oakville Trustee & Vice-Chair of the Board
905-842-3826
[email protected]

Arlene Iantomasi, Burlington Trustee, Wards 1 & 2
905-632-6314 x. 7182
[email protected]

Jane Michael, Burlington Trustee, Wards 3 & 6
905-802-6258
[email protected]

Susan Trites, Burlington Trustee, Wards 4 & 5
905-637-7377
[email protected]

John Mark Rowe, Halton Hills Trustee
905-877-9510
[email protected]

Anthony Danko, Oakville Trustee
905-825-9159
[email protected]

Helena Karabela, Oakville Trustee
289-230-1423
[email protected]

Anthony Quinn, Oakville Trustee
905-338-3919
[email protected]

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