Cory Morgan: Book-Weeding at Ontario School a Reminder That School Board Elections Matter

Cory Morgan: Book-Weeding at Ontario School a Reminder That School Board Elections Matter
Books on shelves in an elementary school in a file photo. (AP Photo/Hakim Wright Sr.)
Cory Morgan

It’s often said that in a democracy, we get the government we deserve. This isn’t quite true. Children are suffering under the government their parents deserve due to voter apathy, and they don’t get to vote on it.

Local levels of government have become dominated by activists and we can only blame ourselves for allowing that to happen.

Canadians responded with shock upon learning the hyper-woke Peel District School Board in Ontario has been stripping books from school library shelves based on a bizarre, equity-based formula the school board had arbitrarily contrived. Even Anne Frank’s "Diary of a Young Girl" was pulled from the shelves.

There is likely no better book in existence than Anne Frank’s diary to teach youth about the horrors committed by the Nazi regime in World War II. This first-person account is easy for young people to digest and relate to. It was written by Frank when she was their peer in age. Then she was murdered in a concentration camp. A tragic ending with a harsh message but an important one for young people growing and developing their worldview.

What sort of people would think depriving youth of a book as important as Anne Frank’s diary is serving children well?

The people sitting on the Peel District School Board, that’s who.

Fingers are pointing now that this scandalous act of library censorship has been exposed. While the order to “weed” some books older than 2008 did come down from the Ontario education ministry, it was the school board that chose to use their ridiculous standards in deeming what is according to their own documents, books that "are not inclusive, culturally responsive, relevant or accurate."

The Peel District School Board is no stranger to controversy. In a report commissioned by the provincial government in 2020 to examine the board, it was concluded that "The board is dysfunctional and, with no prospect of successful mediation, is incapable of providing good governance," In 2018, the board deemed the book "To Kill a Mockingbird" inappropriate for students.

School board elections were held in Ontario in 2022 but it appears that voters chose board members who were just as wacky as the prior board.

The Peel District School Board is far from alone in its dysfunctionality.

When an Oakville, Ontario, school made headlines around the world due to a shop teacher showing up to work wearing a ridiculous pair massive of fake breasts, the Halton District School Board was crippled with indecision on the issue. Anybody with a gram of common sense could conclude the teacher was acting and dressing inappropriately in front of students. Anybody aside from the local school board that is. They couldn’t come up with the simple decision to enforce a dress code and the embarrassment of this teacher mocking the feminine form continued unabated.
Nili Kaplan-Myrth is a vitriolic and rather extreme activist well-known in the Ottawa area. Still, she managed to get elected to the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board and the board appears to be spending more time fighting with her than dealing with policies impacting the children’s welfare they are entrusted with. They will likely be at each other’s throats for the next few years on that board and most if not all of them will be re-elected to their positions.

School board trustees manage the path of education for our children. It's a very important role, yet across the country, trustees are usually elected to their positions with only a 20 percent electoral turnout. Most people couldn’t name their local trustee if they were asked unless their trustee went off the rails in a public way.

Fringe activists may be a little on the crazy side, but they aren’t stupid. They recognize they can’t get into elected roles if they have to withstand the scrutiny applied to federal and provincial politicians. They have discovered though that if they work hard, they can slide under the radar and win positions in municipal politics and on school boards thanks to an apathetic electorate. If a large number of voters were paying attention, those activists wouldn’t slip through.

Participatory democracy relies on participation and Canadians have dropped the ball at the local level.

Politics may be less exciting at the civic level than on the provincial and federal stages, but they are no less important. Local governments directly influence your standard of living and school boards impact how your child will be educated.

The solution to fringe candidates taking positions in local politics is simple, yet somehow elusive. People have the tools at their fingertips with the simple marking of a ballot every four years, but most have abdicated that duty.

Until we find the will to vote in local elections, we will have to get used to dysfunctional and weird local governance.

Views expressed in this article are opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.
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