School board trustee who said Christian men are “threats” resigns

Waterloo Catholic District School Board (WCDSB) trustee Wendy Ashby, who equated Christian males to “threats,” has announced her resignation as an elected official. 

In a statement released Sunday evening, Ashby said she would “vacate” her seat so that “we can all return our focus back on the important work that we have dedicated ourselves to doing,” referring to advancing “diversity, equity and inclusion” in the WCDSB.

Ashby’s resignation comes after parents complained about two controversial statements she made on Twitter. 

In addition to her Tweet about Christian men, Ashby reacted to the newly-released provincial budget’s allocation of funds for personal support workers, claiming that “white women make obedient soldiers for the christofascist patriarchy.”

In an attempt to boot Ashby out of office, pro-parental rights groups like Campaign Life Coalition (CLC) and Parents as First Educators (PAFE) rallied supporters to attend board meetings and created petitions urging for her formal resignation. PAFE’s petition collected 3518 signatures and CLC’s collected 3160 to date.

Following the public pushback, WCDSB trustees Marissa Phillips and Robert Sikora condemned Ashby’s Tweets. 

Even with a public statement issued by Ashby earlier in April, Sikora questioned whether she was “truly contrite and repentant.” He continued to endorse her resignation, stating that it would “allow the WCDSB to focus on the students and affirm to the public that our focus is on the safety and education of our students and staff.”

PAFE President Teresa Pierre is satisfied with Ashby’s departure.

“PAFE is pleased to have worked with trustees and a coalition of local parents these past few weeks to bring the situation of Wendy Ashby to light and to have pressured her to resign,” she said.

Ashby equated her resignation, driven by concerned parents, to online bullying.

“The outrageous rage baiting campaign that has been playing out illustrates the exact kind of harassment and online bullying that so many kids experience. What is even more troubling is that this behaviour is coming from adults. Most are from outside interest groups who have their own agenda,” she said.

Although Ashby’s resignation entails an absence from the school board realm of influence, she promises to continue her activism work through other channels. 

“I stand, as always with our Black, Indigenous, People of Colour, and the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. Particularly with transgender and nonbinary folks at this time of great uncertainty and fear. I will be continuing my advocacy in a capacity where I will be able to challenge tough issues and bring lasting change in a way that is positive and meaningful. I hope that one day advocacy for these groups will no longer be considered an act of bravery.”

One-vote victory recount maintains municipal election status quo

Results from Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB) trustee candidate Robert Pella’s municipal election recount have ruled in favour of incumbent Joseph Martino in Ward 1 Etobicoke North.

The Oct. 24 election saw Pella – a Catholic lector who is involved with his local youth ministry – lose by one vote to Martino, pitting the incumbent’s 2,148 votes against Pella’s 2,147. 

Pella believed that he had won the election on the night of Oct. 24, but when he woke up the next morning, his success had changed overnight. 

“Last night when I went to bed, I believed I had won the election by seven votes. I was shocked when I woke up this morning and saw it completely reversed,” Pella told the Toronto Star in October. 

The hopeful trustee opted for a ballot recount, believing the results of the election to be “down-right suspicious.” Pella said that his initial recount request was denied by the TCDSB, so he decided to seek court action instead. 

Though Pella wanted a recount of all ballots, he was amenable to making “concessions.” In a press release, he said that “he was prepared to limit the proposed recount” to both adjudicated and spoiled ballots as well as the additional category of “undervotes,” a term that defines ballots not marked with a vote for trustee. 

Pella alleged that although the city was “prepared to allow these categories of votes to be reviewed and recounted,” the TCDSB and Martino “opposed on all fronts” prompting his deferral to the legal system.

Ontario Justice Michael Dineen ultimately ruled in favour of a partial recount but permitted it only for adjudicated ballots – blank or unreadable ballots for which election staff try to determine voter intention – received from the mail and long-term care facilities along with spoiled votes. 

Pella believes that if undervotes had been counted, this could have potentially swayed the election to different results.

“I am disappointed that I was denied the opportunity to recount the 258 ‘undervote’ ballots, for which voting machines did not detect a vote for Catholic trustee. A manual review was denied. I believe this further recount would have helped resolve public uncertainty about a one-vote election result,” he said. 

Social conservative lobby group Campaign Life Coalition (CLC) is disappointed with the ballot recount outcome, believing that a “balance of power” was at stake in Pella’s recount. 

“Ward 1 was the key to maintaining the balance of power for the ultra-liberal, majority bloc of trustees like Martino who advance anti-Catholic causes like Gay Pride Month and the teaching of Gender Fluidity to children,” said Jack Fonseca CLC’s Director of Political Operations. “If the faithful Catholic Pella had been allowed to win that seat, the left-wing hegemony would likely have been lost.”

Pella, unsatisfied with the recount results, remains dubious about future voting in the city. 

“The entire process was an expensive recount application, which only examined

one spoiled ballot. Catholic school voters in Ward 1 have been denied some added confidence in the electoral process.”

Waterloo Catholic trustee calls Christian males “threats,” concerned parents speak out

Parents as First Educators (PAFE) is calling for the resignation of a Waterloo Catholic school board trustee who publicly commented on Twitter that the “most dangerous creature on the planet is the white Christian male.” 

In a now-deleted Tweet, the first-term Waterloo Catholic District School Board (WCDSB) trustee Wendy Ashby called Christian males a “threat to anyone that is not them.” 

PAFE Project Director Amelia Willis says that Ashby’s comments have alarmed parents, who are concerned about the well-being of their children in the classroom. 

In a now-deleted Tweet, the first-term Waterloo Catholic District School Board trustee Wendy Ashby called Christian males a “threat to anyone that is not them.” 

“Parents and community members are shocked by her statements. They don’t speak that way at home, and they don’t want their children learning this behaviour,” she said. “The school board and Ashby have not apologized at this point, and there really haven’t been any consequences to her actions, as she’s still a sitting trustee. This inaction is inexcusable.” 

The PAFE petition entitled “Trustee Ashby Must Resign” has collected 2832 signatures as of April 24. At a meeting slated to take place from 5-9 PM on Monday evening, the WCDSB will be hearing from concerned ratepayers. Protestors are expected beforehand. 

Willis says that the WCDSB’s lack of action in demanding an apology from Ashby is evidence of Critical Race Theory (CRT) acceptance.

“If a trustee can openly be racist and the school board isn’t alarmed by this, that’s very disturbing. The lack of apology from Trustee Ashby, as well as the lack of action from the board, indicates that the trustees and staff in the WCDSB have been brainwashed by critical race theory into thinking this is acceptable behaviour,” said Willis.

In a more recent Tweet, also now deleted, Ashby commented, “Hush money. Buying silence about being underpaid. White women make obedient soldiers for the christofascist patriarchy.”

The PAFE petition notes that Ashby’s Tweets have “shown prejudice based on race and religion” which suggest that “she is unfit to represent her white Christian constituents as a trustee.” Willis urges that Ashby’s resignation should be imminent.

“She hasn’t offered any sort of apology to date so she hasn’t really taken responsibility. These are not the acts of a trustworthy public official. There are no ands, buts, or ifs about it – Trustee Ashby should resign.”

Over the past year, the WCDSB’s public counterpart, the Waterloo Region District School Board (WRDSB), has seen similar CRT- influenced politics. In mid-November, the WRDSB administered a survey without parental consent that asked its students whether they are “gender fluid, intersex, non-binary, trans or two-spirit.” 

Last year, former ESL teacher Carolyn Bujorski was called “transphobic” after being ejected from a WRDSB meeting for questioning the age-level appropriateness of certain books at her school library with sexual content. She claims that after the meeting she was “assigned to home” and threatened with the loss of her retirement benefits. In response, Bujorski filed a $1.7-million defamation suit against the board, claiming that the board misrepresented what she had said.

A deeper look at Canada Post’s new electric vehicle fleet

Source: Canada Post/ Bonner Photography

Canada Post’s newly-unveiled electric vehicle fleet to fight climate change may not be as effective as it sounds, according to an environmental policy expert.

As part of a long-term plan to electrify 14,000 delivery vehicles by 2040, 14 Canada Post battery-electric delivery vehicles hit the street of Nanaimo, B.C., this past month. In an attempt to reduce carbon emissions, Canada Post is replacing their current gas-powered vehicles with battery-powered “electric cargo vans.” 

Jerome Gessaroli, a senior fellow at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute, says that while there is “strong scientific evidence” to suggest that high carbon emissions contribute to climate change, whether electric vehicles (EVs) have any measurable effects in lowering carbon emissions is an answer that is “not completely straightforward.” 

“You need to consider the carbon emissions of an EV over its lifecycle, from manufacturing through to its end of useful life. What the studies show is that an EV must be driven 10s of thousands of Kms before it will ‘break-even’ or make up for the emissions they produce during the manufacturing phase,” he said. 

Gessaroli noted carbon emissions are lowered “depending upon how the electricity that powers EVs is generated.” 

An EV that runs on electricity produced by hydroelectric, nuclear, or other non carbon-generating will lower overall emissions. An EV that uses electricity generated by a coal or oil plant might “make things worse.” 

“Another factor is that it is more carbon-intensive to manufacture an electric vehicle than a gas combustion vehicle, mainly due to manufacturing batteries. So as newer EVs use larger batteries to extend their driving range, they become even more carbon-emitting during the manufacturing process,” he said.  

Suromitra Sanatani, the Canada Post Chair for the Board of Directors, said in a March 9 press release that last year the “corporation set aside more than $1 billion to cut emissions and move forward on the electrification of its last mile fleet.” Gessaroli advises that companies should make decisions in EV investments depending on whether they are “financially the best alternative.” 

“Generally speaking companies should choose the overall lowest cost of reducing carbon emissions after taking all important business and financial factors into account,” he said. 

The academic noted that federal and provincial governments often provide subsidies to reduce emissions, but these are very expensive which can be unfair to lower-income people. 

“The vast majority of EVs are purchased by higher income people because EVs are more expensive than gas cars. So, governments are redistributing taxes collected from everyone, including lower-income wage earners to higher-income people that are buying EVs. That is a very regressive government policy.” 

There are other cost-effective, “bang for the buck” alternatives to cut back on CO2 and greenhouse gases Gessaroli suggests. He thinks that trying to reduce methane emissions– often produced in the natural gas sector– is a more worthwhile pursuit.  

In an attempt to “avert the worst impacts of climate change,” the Government of Canada has advanced a net-zero emission future by 2050. Sanatani highlighted that Canada Post’s new initiative is in line with the government’s goal. 

“Canadians expect their postal service to play a leading role in the country’s transition to a low-carbon future. It’s a responsibility that Canada Post embraces,” she said. 

To help achieve their net-zero target, in 2022 the Government of Canada mandated that every passenger vehicle sold in Canada will need to be electric by 2035. By 2026, one-fifth of all passenger cars, SUVs and trucks sold will need to be electrically-powered. 

Gessaroli says net-zero emissions by 2050 is “an aspirational goal rather than a practical goal.” 

“If a true effort to meet that goal was undertaken, it would be very very expensive and force significant changes to how we live. I’m not convinced that is necessarily in the best interests of Canadians. The ultimate success of climate policy is dependent upon whether the largest emitters, such as China, India, and the United States can substantially reduce their emissions as well.” 

Hate crimes against Canadian Catholics on the rise: report

A recently-published report found that “hate crimes” against Catholics have more than tripled in Canada since 2020.

In a March 16 communiqué entitled “Toward a Hopeful Future: Facing Down Religious Hate,” the Christian think tank Cardus reported that hate crimes against Catholics have seen the “largest spike” relative to previous years, jumping from 43 known instances in 2020 to 155 instances in 2021.

The non-partisan research organization noted that the numbers coincide with the residential school announcements, which fingered the blame of possible unmarked graves at the Catholic Church’s apparent mismanagement of educational institutions for Indigenous youth.

Since the Kamloops Residential school story broke in May of 2021, True North has reported that over seventy Catholic and Christian churches have been burned and vandalized.

The Cardus report noted that religious-based discrimination against Catholics follows a general upward trend of hate crimes against all faith denominations. In 2021, a total of 900 hate crime incidents were reported against religious communities, reaching their highest point since 415 in 2009, the year when comparable data was made available.

The think tank attributed this “rise of religious hate crimes” to a “backdrop of increasingly negative public attitudes toward the contributions of religion and faith communities to Canada.” In collaboration with the Angus Reid Institute, Cardus conducted polling which found that those who identify as “non-religious” observe religion in general as “damaging” to public life.

Cardus recommended the importance of public figureheads in the fight to end religiously-motivated violence because they “can set the tone for religious inclusion by using their platforms to highlight the important contributions and services that faith communities provide and to speak out against religious hatred in all of its forms, especially when that hatred takes the form of violence.”

Although incidents of religiously-motivated violence have increased against Catholics, Canadians who identify as “Catholic” has been steadily declining. The most recent Canadian census outlined that the Catholic population has shrunk to 10.9 in 2021 million from 12.8 million in 2011. The scandal of residential schools has also acted as an impetus for Catholics to leave the church.

Ugandan MP calls Liberal funding for abortion overseas ‘colonization’

Member of Parliament Garnett Genuis, the shadow minister for international development, asked an African legislator how Canada could ensure that its development assistance best serves the needs of local communities instead of “bringing in predetermined western priorities.”

Ugandan MP Lucy Akello spoke to the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development this Tuesday, denouncing Canadian foreign assistance that is tied to the promotion of abortion.

“It seems no matter how much money will be spent on making abortion look good, our people still see through the money, marketing and mass education,” she said.

Throughout their time in office, the federal Liberals have championed “sexual and reproductive health and rights” (SRHR), a blanket term that promotes widespread access to abortion, contraception, family planning and other birth control methods.

Akello, who represents the Amuru District Women’s Constituency in Northern Uganda, argued that an “overwhelming majority” of Africans believe that abortion is “morally unacceptable.”

“Almost 80% of African countries have some sort of law prohibiting and restricting abortion. And it is predicted on a widely held belief that unborn babies have a right to live and deserve to be protected by law,” she said.

In recent years, the Liberals have taken their advocacy for SRHR to developing nations in Africa as well as parts of Latin America and the Middle East. In 2017, as “part of its strong commitment to gender equality and a feminist lens,” the Liberals pledged $650 million to fund abortion overseas. 

Such projects are seconded by the United Nations, whose 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development suggests abortion as a means for women’s empowerment and emancipation.

Akello condemned funding tied to abortion as a type of “colonization,” where Western countries impose their views on nations in the developing world.

“Africa has a long history of colonization, just like Canada– of people, foreign governments, foreign-led organizations telling us what is good for us or what our priorities should be.”

In the face of a widespread pro-life majority in Africa, Akello recommended that the Canadian government spend more resources keeping “the girl child at school as opposed to giving them contraceptives.”

“I also recommend that you respect Uganda as a sovereignty,” she said.

Crown withdraws pandemic charges against Windsor Pastor

Pandemic-related charges against Windsor Pastor Aaron Rock for allegedly breaching the Re-opening Ontario Act (ROA) were quietly dropped this past February.

Rock’s attorney, the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF) Litigator Chris Fleury, spoke to True North and said that the “positive outcome” of Rock’s lawsuit is not always consistent in similar cases. 

“The way Mr. Rock’s case has played out does not set a precedent with how these types of charges are generally dealt with. The Trinity Bible Chapel case, which the JCCF was also representing, was in the Superior Court in the spring of 2022. We just got a decision from the Ontario Court of Appeal that came back negative. A lot of these cases are systemic challenges,” he said. 

Under the ROA, the government banned religious gatherings greater than 10 people. Rock– the lead pastor at the Harvest Bible Church in Windsor– was alleged to have contravened this regulation. 

As supposed admission of Rock’s guilt, the Crown presented a recording filmed outside of the Harvest Bible Church. Fleury noted that the video lacked concrete evidence to incriminate the Windsor pastor. 

“There were no legal merits to the case itself because the camera footage does not even show Mr. Rock,” he said.

The prosecuting Crown Attorney withdrew the two charges levied against Rock for infringing the ten-person capacity limit on Feb. 6. 

Rock faced another charge for speaking at a public gathering where he voiced concerns about Ontario’s COVID-19 response. The Crown withdrew the charge with no admission of guilt on Feb. 16 after Rock entered into a Diversion Agreement where, according to the JCCF press release, “he voluntarily made a modest charitable donation.” 

Charges dropped against Rock serve for some as an emblem of optimism in face of the often harsh legislative response to pandemic-related cases. 

“Speaking as a citizen of Ontario, it’s absolutely shocking to me to see the degree to which these charges were laid and how many of them continue into 2023,” said Fleury. “Though it’s encouraging that we are seeing positive outcomes.”

Conservative MP tabling bill set to stop looming MAiD expansion

Conservative MP Ed Fast announced he will be tabling a private member’s bill that will reverse the forecasted expansion of medical assistance in dying (MAiD) legislation to include those whose sole condition is a mental illness.

In light of recently renewed talk about assisted suicide laws in Canada, Fast announced the soon-to-be-introduced Bill C-314– the Mental Health Protection Act – on Parliament Hill, flanked by Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre.

“My fear is that the most vulnerable Canadians, those with mental illnesses, will be placed at risk through Canada’s current MAiD regime,” said Fast, MP of Abbotsford in B.C., in an interview with True North. “I am hoping that Bill C-314 will cause Canadians to wake up and raise the alarm bell to the fact that our current liberal government is moving way too forward and way too fast with assisted suicide legislation.”

Recently, there has been considerable political momentum to permit MAiD for those whose sole condition is a mental illness, though its expansion has been delayed until at least March 17, 2024 with the federal government’s introduction of Bill C-39 in early February. The bill, sponsored by Justice Minister David Lametti, is currently awaiting Senate approval.

“Our trajectory is scary. Canada has some of the most liberal MAiD legislation in the world. Many of the experts, many of the professionals, made clear that they were not properly consulted. There has not been a debate amongst Canadians at large about whether our legislation should be expanded to include more vulnerable people,” said Fast.

Under current legislation, Canadians are eligible for MAiD if they satisfy certain criteria including being over the age of 18, having “a serious and incurable illness” and enduring “intolerable physical or psychological suffering that cannot be alleviated.”

In the news conference, Poilievre highlighted government responsibility “to treat mental health problems rather than ending people’s lives.” The Conservative leader noted that MAiD should never be offered as a solution for those experiencing mental illness because suffering in the moment might only be transient in the end.

“Experts tell us that depression and mental illness can come and go, that people can be suffering and desperate today, but a few months later be thankful that they still have their lives and their families,” he said.

Given that there is limited public backing for expanding access to MAiD, Fast said resources should instead be expended to support those undergoing difficult situations.

“It is very clear, poll after poll, that there is no consensus across Canada to expand MAiD to the mentally ill. In fact, the consensus is against this. Instead of pushing the idea of “dying with dignity,” we should focus our attention on allowing Canadians to live with dignity. We have called upon the government to provide mental health and palliative supports to help those who are most vulnerable.”

Although Fast believes that it’s “difficult to tell whether the bill will pass or not,” he said that members of other parties are now reconsidering whether expanding MAiD is the best way to move forward.

Liberals reveal new Black justice strategy to combat racism

In the middle of Black History Month, the Trudeau Liberals unveiled a new “Black justice strategy” last week to fight what they describe as the “systemic discrimination” and anti-Black racism in Canada’s criminal justice system.

In a Feb. 15 news release, the government cited a need for a plan of action because “Black communities in Canada continue to live with the effects of prejudice, discrimination, and hatred” which includes “unconscious bias” and “anti-Black hate crimes and violence.” 

The announcement also outlined hopes that the newly-revealed strategy would help “modernize” the criminal justice system. 

A press conference on Parliament Hill– which featured federal ministers David Lametti, Ahmed Hussen and Marci Ien, among others – announced the assembly of a nine-member steering group, the next step in implementing the proposed strategy. The committee will now begin consultations with Black communities across the country to understand different regional perspectives.  

University of Toronto Associate Professor Dr. Akwasi Owusu-Bempah, CBC’s Nature of Things Co-host Anthony Morgan, Quebec-based criminal lawyer Fernando Belton, activist Mandela Kuet, Executive Director of the Black Legal Action Centre Moya Teklu, Senior Manager for the Africa Centre Sandra Muchekeza, Suzanne Taffot, Vanessa Fells and human rights lawyer Zilla Jones are members of the steering group which will facilitate development of the “Black justice strategy”.

Liberal MP Ahmed Hussen– the Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion– said that Canadians need “to acknowledge the social, economic and political barriers Black communities have faced and continue to face”. The liberal politician said that the new strategy will serve as a pioneering force in finding solutions to the “disproportionately negative experiences” of Black Canadians.

“Building a more equitable and inclusive country takes hard work and thoughtful engagement, especially when it comes to improving the reality of Black communities across our country,” he said. “I thank the steering group for the challenge it is about to take on as we move toward building a more inclusive and equitable Canada where no one is left behind.”

The Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth, Marci Ien, said events south of the border served as a wake-up call to Canada, spurring the development of new approaches to fight racism.

“The murder of George Floyd was a painful awakening to the realities of systemic racism, to the realities of anti-black racism, a reality that black communities across this great country of ours know all too well,” she said.

The Liberals campaigned on the promise of creating a strategy that would address “anti-black racism” in the criminal justice system. 

Supporting Black communities has been a focus of the Trudeau government. In 2021, they committed $200 million for a Black-led Philanthropic Endowment Fund which would service “black-focused,” “black-led” and “black-serving” non-profit organizations. Applications closed last fall.

Legault goes direct to the U.S. to get action on Roxham Road

With a surge of migrant foot traffic at Roxham Road – the illegal crossing south of Montreal – the Quebec government is ramping up the pressure on Washington to address the border crisis, circumventing potential federal involvement.

Quebec Premier Francois Legault met with the U.S. Ambassador to Canada David Cohen the morning of Feb. 14 to discuss making changes to the Canada-US Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA), which ensures that any migrant who comes to a Canadian border checkpoint seeks asylum in the first “safe place” they arrived. The accord was codified in 2002 as a safety initiative following the 9/11 attacks. 

The STCA applies only to official land border crossings, making Roxham Road, at the Quebec-New York frontier, a loophole. At an illegal border point, migrants are not returned to the place they originally came from, they can freely claim refugee status. In the meeting with Cohen in Quebec City, Legault’s proposed amendments to the STCA would extend agreement provisons to all entry points. 

“I said to him, ‘I don’t understand why it’s taking this long to settle with the United States. What we’re asking is that the Safe Third Country Agreement be applied to all ports of entry, including Roxham,’” said Legault.

News recently broke that New York City Mayor Eric Adams, a Democrat, has been using taxpayer dollars to fund one-way bus tickets to Quebec for migrants who have arrived in New York City. Once in the sanctuary city, migrants take the bus to Plattsburgh where taxis furnish the tail end of the transport to Roxham Road in Champlain, NY. 

Estimates suggest that as many as 250 migrants now use the illegal Roxham Road crossing each day, with the majority settling in Montreal. In the face of a rampant housing shortage, as well as reduced capacity in both schools and hospitals across the province, the upward trend in illegal migrant crossing has been difficult to manage on the ground.

The CBC reported that in a letter obtained by Radio-Canada, Legault asked Adams to “‘immediately’ put an end to ‘all forms of assistance’ to people that cross the border where it is ‘strictly forbidden.’” 

“The situation has overwhelmed Montreal’s ability to provide housing and other public services, with the flood of new students alone equivalent to the opening of 13 new schools,” Ewan Sauves, a spokesperson for Legault, said. “Last year, 39,161 people used Roxham Road to illegally enter Canada, comprising 99.1% of all such illegal border crossings.”

A recent poll by Justice pour le Québec found that 68% of Quebecers are in favour of sealing the illegal Roxham Road entry to Canada. 

The Parti Quebecois proposed a motion, tabled on Feb. 2, which suggests that Quebec should take Roxham Road matters into its own hands by forcefully imposing the road closure through provincial police presence.

Legault’s international appeal has also been reinforced by a domestic memo to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, urging him to discourage migrant crossings into Canada.

According to Quebec Immigration Minister Christine Fréchette, the 380 migrants who entered through Roxham Road on the weekend of Feb. 11-12 were transferred to other provinces, though mainly Ontario. She said that these are the “results” of a “new approach to border management” that the province’s administration is “happy” with. 


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