Pro-family trustees fear union opposition
A small group of pro-family trustees up for re-election to the Metro Toronto Separate School Board (MSSB) believe they have
been targeted for defeat by the teachers’ union.
The trustees, who describe themselves as reform-minded, favor a back to basics education and a renewed effort to show the
distinction between separate and public education. They suggest that their traditional views on parental rights, adherence to
church teaching authority and morality-based curriculum have drawn the ire of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’
One such trustee, Michael Del Grande is an admitted “boat rocker.” Del Grande was elected in 1994 and pursued a program of
openness and accountability at the board over the last three years. His campaign literature speaks of his standing up against
“vested interests” at the board “who in the past have never been challenged in the way things have been conducted.”
Although there is no direct evidence of OECTA working for his defeat in the November municipal elections, Del Grande
believes the teachers’ union would not be displeased to see him and like-minded colleagues ousted.
Del Grande said only by striving to emphasize the unique character of Catholic education will the schools survive the challenges
of a secular culture.
“There’s a whole generation of teachers who don’t know their faith very well,” he told The Interim. “Yet the board must have the
best academic and moral standards if we want to be distinguished from public the system.”
Del Grande’s colleague David Hogg, who also supports a back-to-basics approach to Catholic education, said OECTA efforts
to bring about his electoral defeat are “hearsay” at this point.
“I regard my position as trustee as being faithful to the church,” Hogg said. He added however, that the union has made no
secret of its antipathy to his and Del Grande’s records as trustee since 1994. OECTA opposed Hogg’s support of a language
arts program which proved successful in a number of schools in the U.S. and Ontario.
Hogg also said there were some suggestions that he and Del Grande belonged to the Opus Dei organization, an orthodox
Catholic group. Neither is in fact a member of Opus Dei.
An official with OECTA’s provincial office said he had no knowledge of the union opposing individual trustees’ re-election. Greg
Pollock, executive assistance/government relations with the Catholic teachers’ union said his group supports trustees who are
“We’ve urged our member units to back separate school trustee candidates who are opposed to the educational cutbacks being
imposed by the province,” Pollock said. “OECTA has not taken a position that is contrary to the teaching of the church,
including any pro-life and pro-family issues.”
Pollack said a major concern of OECTA is the province’s slow withdrawal of resources from the public education system. He
said dwindling resources could severely weaken public education and encourage more parents to opt for private or home
schooling alternatives. Such a move, he added, would result in a two-tiered educational system.
The controversy coincides with the release of a pastoral letter by Archbishop Aloysius Ambrozic of the Toronto (Roman
Catholic) archdiocese in response to the Ontario government’s Bill 104, the legislation reducing the number of school boards
and trustees across the province.
In his letter, “Committed to Our Catholic School,” Archbishop Ambrozic calls for trustees who will challenge “the increasingly
aggressive secular culture.”
He calls for elected educational leaders who will bring a “humble and searching spirituality” to school governance, and who are
capable of articulating a Catholic vision of education and life.