WRDSB ‘weaponizing’ code of conduct to quiet criticism: Trustee

By Casey Taylor

Just under three weeks to municipal election day in Ontario, a local school board trustee says he's looking to remind his colleagues who they actually work for.

Waterloo Region District School Board trustee Mike Ramsay, releasing publicly a more than 30-page code of conduct complaint he says his board colleagues have been using to silence him and others.

“This is my first opportunity to legally share the complaint with the public,” Ramsay said Tuesday during an interview on The Mike Farwell Show on CityNews 570.

“So that is the timing,” he said. “I promised transparency and [now] it's out in the public domain for the public to see for themselves the information my colleagues used to cancel out the votes of 10,391 voters who supported me in the last election.”

This stems from a board meeting back in January focused, in part, on the age-appropriateness of some books in our public school libraries.

The public record of that meeting was ultimately scrubbed by the board though the exact reasoning for that has seemingly continued to be cloaked under the veil of a potential human rights violation.

“Here we had a delegate coming to the board who should have been received courteously and heard fairly, and that delegate was not given an opportunity to complete the presentation with respect to books that she highlighted were already in our libraries,” Ramsay said. “And somehow it was deemed that is was a violation of the Ontario Human Rights Code for her to be quoting from material that were already in our libraries.”

It should be noted, much of the controversy following this meeting was not over excerpts from the books themselves but comments the delegate in question, a now former teacher, went on to make about the material making it “seem simple, or even cool, to take puberty blockers or opposite-sex hormones” — which many have deemed transphobic.

“I fully support the rights of trans-gendered students and our transgender friends and neighbours,” Ramsay made a point of noting, adding his sanction and suspension are not related to what transpired during the meeting but comments made after, publicly critical of the way things were handled; criticisms the resulting code of conduct complaint calls “unprofessional, demeaning, and damaging” to the board itself.

Ramsay, now accusing board colleagues of 'weaponizing' their code of conduct to quiet criticism.

“I participated in the development of the policy and I can tell you it was framed to be neutral, not to be weaponized to silence voices they don't wish to hear,” he said. “I'm not the board's representative to the community, I'm one of the community's representatives to the board and I think my colleagues need to get a better understanding of what that means.”

In a statement posted online, WRDSB Chair Scott Piatkowski continued to defend both his and the board's actions.

“The Trustee Code of Conduct was unanimously adopted by, and applies equally to, all trustees,” the statement reads, before also bemoaning Ramsay's continued push-back also continues to “subject the Board to unnecessary legal expenses.”

Voters, meantime, will get to have their say on October 24.

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