Lecce promised “back to basics” education with Bill 98. Here’s why you shouldn’t believe him.
We've been looking into a new bill in Ontario, one the government says will fix the academic decrepitude in schools, but you're not going to believe what the Doug Ford PCs are stuffing into this Trojan Horse!
Back on April 19th, Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce suggested that his newly introduced Bill 98 would refocus schools on reading, writing and math.
In a mass email announcing the proposed government legislation, the subject line read: “Back to Basics in Education”.
Sounds wonderful so far, doesn’t it?
Especially after the last few years in which parents have suffered a tsunami of LGBT ideology and Critical Race Theory indoctrination in their children's classrooms.
On the surface, it would appear that Lecce is responding in a positive way to the runaway wokeism that has recently caused fed-up parents to speak out at school board meetings across Ontario.
To give you just a few examples, recent parent uprisings erupted and made the news in the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board over transgender washrooms, in the Durham District School Board over gay pornography books, and in the Waterloo Catholic School Board over hate speech directed at “white Christian males”.
The timing of Minister Stephen Lecce’s announcement and his talk of returning to reading, writing and math, on the heels of these parental uprisings, has lead many parents to assume that Bill 98 is a positive reaction to the problem of ideological programming in the schools.
However, I am skeptical of this ultra-woke Minister's true intent. And even more skeptical about the Marxist bureaucrats behind him at the Ministry, those who hold the real power, and who may be pulling Lecce’s strings to further their own agenda.
History of pro-woke activism
First of all, throughout his tenure as Education Minister, Lecce has personally championed all of the stuff that parents are now complaining about.
He continued and even strengthened Kathleen Wynne’s homosexuality-and-transgenderism-focused sex ed curriculum.
He intensified the corrosive DIE mandate (Diversity, Inclusion and Equity) for schools.
Minister Lecce (left) at Gay Pride Parade
(Source: Twitter / @Sflecce)
When the radical LGBT lobby and its media allies were baying for the blood of faithful Catholic TCDSB Trustee, Mike Del Grande, for having opposed the addition of “gender identity” and “gender expression” to his Catholic board’s Code of Conduct, Lecce piled on with the anti-Christian haters to publicly humiliate and call for Mike’s censure.
Minister Lecce also boasted of funneling tons of taxpayer cash to EGALE Canada, a radical LGBT organization that promotes transgender and homosexual ideology in schools and everywhere it can obtain influence. This is the same group, by the way, that coordinated and funded lawsuits to overturn the true definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman in 2005.
So, do I believe that Lecce suddenly had a conversion? That he realizes it was a mistake to cram the classrooms full of this ideology and now, he wants to reverse track?
Unfortunately, no. I don’t trust him.
After reviewing the proposed legislation, I found it has very little to do with improving curriculum, if anything at all.
Rather, it seems to have a whole lot to do with transferring power over school board governance away from democratically-elected trustees... and into the hands of Ontario government bureaucrats.
An end run around democratic elections?
That includes removing from elected Trustees their current power to determine the guilt or innocence of fellow school board trustees facing Code of Conduct complaints, and to determine sanctions.
Instead, it appears that power will be moved into the hands of an "Integrity Commissioner" who has to be hired from a "roster" provided by the Minister of Education. See section (24) of Bill 98 which makes changes to the Public Inquiries Act.
Those sanctions can result in enough pressure and public shaming being brought to bear on Trustees that they end up resigning. In essence, this complaint and sanction process can end up nullifying the result of a local school board election.
Why is this a concern?
Why do we care if alleged Code of Conduct violations are judged by duly-elected trustees, or by a bureaucrat who was hand-picked by the provincial government?
Well, the principle of subsidiarity teaches that we get better government and a healthier society when decision-making is kept as close as possible to the local people most affected by the decisions.
Since Trustees are elected by parents, they are accountable to those same voters for their decisions. Taking away Trustees’ ability to stand as judges over the conduct of their peers, and giving it to the government instead, makes board members less accountable to voters.
This makes me fear that Lecce’s reading, writing and math slogan is just a smoke-screen to pass a bill whose true goal is to give the government the ability to “fire” democratically-elected Trustees who stubbornly insist on continuing to represent the interests of parents after an election.
And guess which trustees would be targeted with these new powers?
I'll bet it would be the traditionally-principled, anti-woke trustees in both Public and Catholic boards, like Mike Del Grande for example. Not the leftist Trustees that are dismissing and disparaging parents’ concerns at these board meetings.
I don't agree with transferring the power to sanction trustees, or the ability to pressure them to resign, away from the democratic process, and placing it instead in the hands of nameless, faceless educrats who are accountable to nobody except their own world view.
Mandatory Training for Trustees
Bill 98 also grants the Minister of Education power to compel school board trustees, Directors of Education, and Superintendents to undertake mandatory “training”. The type of “training” that can be mandated is not specified in the legislation. It’s left wide open.
Could it end up being training that forces trustees to receive indoctrination on LGBT ideology? I foresee the gay activists at EGALE being given a hand in the provision of this training since Lecce already boasts of the money he has given it under the auspices of “Mental Health”.
Could this new mandatory training power be used in the future to promote politicized “social justice” agendas that have nothing to do with academic achievement? Like Marxist-inspired Critical Race Theory, abortion-tainted vaccines and lockdowns, the population control-linked “global warming” agenda, or other woke concepts, in order to ensure top-down implementation and compliance in the schools?
Furthermore, Directors and Superintendents are employees of the Board of Trustees. They’re hired and can be fired by the Board. As such, they should be accountable to Trustees alone, and by extension, to the parents who elected them. What if the Ministry’s “mandatory training” contradicts the values and goals of the Board/electorate? Wouldn’t that tend towards undermining the democratic power dynamic that's supposed to be in place?
A Trojan horse to empower EGALE Canada?
Section 8 of Bill 98 adds a paragraph called “student mental health”:
Addressing mental health problems among the student population sounds like something innocuous that we ought to support, right? However, Stephen Lecce has a history of using the cover of “Mental Health” to funnel stacks of “Priorities Fund” cash to EGALE Canada while smuggling their gender ideology into the school environment.
EGALE is a very political gay-activist group, not a medical organization or a mental health provider. So there's a very good chance that money was used to help EGALE promote LGBT ideology in schools.
Minister Lecce admitted doing this on March 6, 2023, during a parliamentary discussion about a $15.2 million education grant he issued:
“We have increased funding in mental health. We’ve actually worked with Egale Canada and leverage them every single year through the priorities fund of the Ministry of Education to support those children most at risk within our schools.”
So, this is another element of Bill 98 that traditionally-principled parents need to worry about.
Mixing the profane with the sacred
Furthermore I disagree with section (21) and the “Joint use of schools” section which appears to grant the Minister the power to order Separate Catholic School Boards to share buildings with secular Public school boards.
There’s a reason it’s called the “Separate” school system. Its values are separate from those in the public secular board and in order to maintain its sacred character, it must remain free of any immoral, secular contamination.
This new government power would represent an assault on the constitutional rights of Catholic school boards in Ontario because in many cases it would create the opportunity to expose Catholic, faith-based students to anti-Christian or sinful attitudes, campaigns and resources that are prominent in the Public School System.
The Supreme Court of Canada has twice affirmed that the denomination rights of Catholic schools in Ontario are "absolute" under Section 93 of the Constitution Act of 1867. This means they cannot be abrogated by any law, regulation, memo or directive by the Ministry of Education. Yet, this section of Bill 98 would do just that.
Where’s the beef?
In 1984, the Wendy’s fast food chain introduced a TV advertising campaign that made “Where’s the beef?” a wildly popular slogan. The slogan suggested that its competitors' burgers didn’t have much substance in terms of the main ingredient one expected.
Above: Where's the beef? commercial by Wendy's
Likewise, after reading Bill 98, I found myself asking, “Where’s the beef”? Or in this case, "Where’s the math?
If Bill 98’s goal was truly to re-focus schools on reading, writing & math, I’d expect it to contain explicit, substantive curriculum changes that devote more lessons and classroom minutes to those subjects. In turn, that would require removing something from the daily classroom calendar, or at least reducing its allotted time.
The flood of LGBT programming introduced over the past decade, along with more recent Marxist-inspired Critical Race Theory, should be the obvious 'space takers' on the chopping block. These are the main culprits that have pushed out academic subjects (reading, writing, math) over the past decade.
However, “reading, writing and math” is only mentioned in the Preamble to the bill. There’s not a single line in Bill 98 which explicitly mentions - much less mandates - curriculum changes to improve Ontario’s academic focus on the 3 R’s.
I don’t see the beef. Therefore, I don’t buy the sales pitch.
After all, how can you possibly fit in more reading, writing and arithmetic into the same number of school day hours, unless you first take something else out to make room for it? Bill 98 does not purport to do that.
I have two other reasons to fear this could this be a Trojan horse to seize even more control over school board governance, and place it into the grabbing hands of Ministry of Education bureaucrats, and to simultaneously take that control away from democratically-elected school trustees, and by extension, away from parents.
Their names are Debbie L. Kasman and Patrick Case.
Anti-democracy plot uncovered?
In May of 2021, I was made aware of a teleconference that allegedly took place on May 5th of that year between an anti-democracy activist named Debbie L. Kasman whose mission is to abolish Ontario’s elected school trustee system, and Patrick Case, an Assistant Deputy Minister of Education. He's one of the top people in the Ministry.
Debbie L. Kasman, anti-democracy activist
In a gloating email to trustees, a copy of which I obtained, Ms. Kasman boasted that during that high level meeting, she had outlined to Mr. Case:
".... a potential new governance structure that would put the Ministry of Education in charge of the governance of school boards in Ontario instead of elected trustees."
According to Kasman, Patrick Case is the one who offered to teleconference with her after she had published some open letters about her ideas to 'revamp' the education system.
In that memo, Kasman made it clear that the primary reason for abolishing the democratically-elected school trustee system was to give government bureaucrats more power so they can "address systemic discrimination".
What do we know about Patrick Case?
Patrick Case, Assistant Deputy Minister of Education
Well, he appears to sympathize with Marxist causes. And that, combined with the immense bureaucratic power he holds in his hands over the minds of our children, makes him a dangerous man.
Case’s LinkedIn profile shows that he was the past Commissioner of the thoroughly biased kangaroo court called the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) from 2005-2010. The OHRC is made up largely of God-hating atheists and pro-LGBT activists who make it their mission in life to prosecute and persecute Christian defendants who face frivolous Human Rights complaints. Only rarely does a Christian escape conviction by the OHRC no matter how obviously vengeful, petty or without merit the complaint against them.
Case's Linked In profile at the time showed that he "liked" an article promoting Black Lives Matter, the violent Marxist organization that burned, looted and murdered their way across America in their effort to bring about a modern form of communist class warfare.
In the email memo, Ms. Kasman bragged to the school trustees to whom she sent it, about her teleconference with the Education big wig, claiming:
"I planted a seed at the top of the Ministry mountain this week. Let's see if it grows".
What was really concerning to me was how she ended her memo, implying at least some level of agreement by the Assistant Deputy Minister of Education:
"Mr. Case is 'hopeful' some big changes will be announced within the next few months."
Is Lecce's announcement of Bill 98 those "big changes", only delayed by a year and a half?
Send your MPP an Action Alert Email