A run for the Roman Catholic School BoardPeter Jones, of Brantford, not a Roman Catholic, ran for a board position, and received 25% of Roman Catholic votes.
Peter was kind enough to write an account of his experiences for CRIPE. The following is in Peter’s own words.
“Being involved with CRIPE and Education Equality in Ontario, I noticed that we devoted all of our efforts to attacking the discriminatory admissions and hiring practices of the Catholic School system in Ontario. There are other aspects of society which are directly affected by this religious discrimination. There is property tax assessment, (i.e. tax direction…which we all know means nothing) and becoming a candidate for Trustee in the Catholic School Board. I decided to test the latter
“When I attempted to have my 5 year old twins admitted into the local Catholic elementary School, I was asked to produce baptismal papers to prove that we were Catholic. I could not do this and was promptly sent on my way. With this event in mind, I went down to City Hall to file nomination papers for trustee in the Catholic board. I fully expected that I would be required to produce proof that I was Catholic. No proof was required. I filled out the form, checked off “yes” in the “Are you Catholic” section, handed over $100, and I was in. In hind sight, I feel now that I did nothing technically wrong. The Charter of Rights and every other human rights instrument in the world, has “freedom of religion” as one of the most basic of human rights. Therefore, on that day I chose to be Catholic. Now, I’m in the driver’s seat.
“If there are any allegations that I am not Catholic, and therefore not qualified to run for Catholic trustee as section 219 of the Education Act says, the burden of proof would be upon them to somehow prove that I am not Catholic. That was easy, but I was still in the mood for an argument. I headed off to the local MPAC office to have myself designated as Catholic there as well, and change my tax direction and become a Separate School Supporter. That was even easier. A pre-authorized forgery of my wife’s signature and a check mark in the right box, and voila…I’m Catholic for the second time in one day.
Problem? No problem.
“City Hall phoned me two days later with a problem. They had already certified me as a candidate, before checking whether or not I was on the correct voter’s list. Their records showed that I was not Catholic and had always been a Public School Supporter. (MPAC records take time to get there.) Back to City Hall I go. This time I filled out the Application To Amend the Voter’s List. Now, I’m a Separate School Supporter, a Catholic voter and a Catholic candidate.
No hidden agenda
“A few days later, the local newspaper; The Brantford Expositor, called me to get some information about me and my platform. I decided to have no hidden agenda. I told them exactly what I was doing and what I hoped to accomplish. The reporter seemed a little shocked by the controversial nature of my platform but was more than happy to print a few words to summarize what I was doing. On Oct. 6 the following article was printed in the Expositor.”
Partial quote from the paper, with the headline, three columns wide: “Candidate challenging Catholic school system”
“Three new candidates are creating races for trustee seats on the Brant Haldimand Norfolk Catholic District School Board….Jones acknowledges he has little hope of winning a seat given his campaign platform. The 48-year-old stay-at-home father said he believes the Catholic school system should be eliminated and his election run is based solely on bringing attention to the issue.”
Peter continues: “Next, I received several surveys from various groups. From the local Chamber of Commerce, I received a survey asking questions about businesses paying more than their fair share for education and… blah… blah… blah… A group funded by various teacher’s unions in Ontario sent me standard questions which require standard predictable answers. I didn’t answer any of their questions, but did convince them both to post my response on their web sites as follows. ( I can’t take full credit for the wording. I “borrowed” much of it from the EEO and CRIPE sites).”
Answer to a survey
“Thank you for the opportunity to look over your survey for candidates in the 2006 Municipal elections. As I do not wish to be one of the candidates who chose not to respond, please accept this as my response.
“I can’t, in good conscience, try to respond to these questions when a much bigger issue regarding school boards remains unresolved: an issue, which if resolved, would address most of the concerns that are brought up in your questions. Most of your questions’ theme is money; or the lack thereof. Eliminating duplication in services in the Provincial school boards is THE answer to addressing most of your concerns, by freeing up many millions of tax dollars. The Ministry of Education admits that, each year, the extra cost of teaching one third of all Ontario students in separate facilities has reached over $200 million.
“Present my position to your members. Possibly, those who agree could try to convince the Provincial government to move this process along and combine the two school systems into one much more cost effective one, making it possible to address your concerns.
“My position is as follows:” (There followed a full page of items well-known to CRIPE members.) Then, Peter continues:
“On Nov. 7, the Brantford Expositor printed my profile in their special section for all candidates. Even though they had to edit my submission for length, they summarized my position quite well.
“I put up no signs, made no public appearances, and was fairly low profile. Asking Catholics to vote for me, considering what my election platform was, made me think that my vote total would be about 1 vote…mine.”
“Much to my surprise, I got 1147 votes….12.75% of votes cast. Seeing as voters selected 2 candidates on the ballot, my name was chosen by about 25% of voters. There are lots of sensible Catholics out there who agree with us.
“If the Catholic School System still exists when the next municipal election comes along, I’ll be doing this again. Only next time, I’ll be putting up signs, attending ‘meet the candidates’ events, in general being much higher profile.
“This strategy may even be a good one for CRIPE and EEO to look at. A few hundred non-Catholic members running for Catholic School Boards across the province, would be a good way to get the word out and ‘stir the pot’.
“To anyone ‘in the know’ it was obvious that I was not Catholic and therefore, an illegal candidate. I don’t think that most members of the general public are aware that they can be discriminated against on the basis of religion when running for this “public” office. I’d like to change that. With this in mind, I’ve confessed my evil ways and turned myself in to the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Municipal Affairs, admitting that I was knowingly an illegal candidate, and violated section 219 of the education act. I’m confident that they don’t wish to make this public, and will probably ignore me. If not, I’m ready with my ‘Charter of Rights’ and ‘freedom of religion’ arguments. I also hope to have a few letters to the editor printed, which would tell this happy tale of fraud and deceit.
“Just lighting a fire.”CATHOLIC SCHOOL BOARD Vote totals for the Brant Haldimand Norfolk Catholic District School Board in Monday’s municipal election. Note: x-marks elected. BRANTFORD TRUSTEES (two elected) Mike Bodnar — 1770 Peter Jones — 1147 x Joe McPherson — 2543 x June Szeman — 3535 Each voter was to select two candidates.