Ottawa, Ontario                                                                                                        March 5, 2019


 During the Ontario 2018 provincial election campaign, Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford promised “a public consultation” on a new sex education curriculum for the schools.  The consultation was also included in the government’s Speech from the Throne.

This consultation was necessary because of the intense controversy that arose about the sex education curriculum developed under former Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne and her associate, Benjamin Levin, who was subsequently found guilty and imprisoned for child pornography.

This public consultation process promised by Mr. Ford has been corrupted as indicated by the following incidents:

  1. The consultations lasted 77 days from September 30, 2018 to December 15, 2018. There were 72,000 responses made during the full consultations.  Approximately 1,600 submissions were made on the very first day of the consultations which supported the Wynne curriculum.  This was due to the fact that the start date of the consultations had not been announced to the general public until the full week after its commencement, but the supporters of the Wynne curriculum, including members of teachers unions and the LGBTQ community, had been given prior notice.  They entered their submissions on that first day of the consultations.
  1. Town Hall consultations were by telephone only. These calls were monitored by screeners who, in some cases (although not all), prevented many from making their views known before the session ended.  That is, screeners filtered out opinions by those opposing the Wynne/Levin curriculum by keeping them “on hold” permitting those supporting the Wynne curriculum to speak, in some instances, several times.  The time set aside for telephone consultation was also frequently cut short, which ensured that those “on hold” waiting to speak lost the opportunity to do so.
  1. The consultation process included an Online Survey which was plagued by serious problems. The translation of the survey was provided in Chinese, Urdu, Punjabi and Korean but not in Arabic.  This excluded Muslim families, who were at the forefront of the opposition to Wynne’s curriculum, and for whom English is a second language, making it difficult for them to participate.  This survey also enabled the participants to choose anonymity as to residence, which opened the door to submissions from outside Ontario, and even North America, due to the fact it provided the option of not having to divulge a postal code when making a submission.
  1. During legal challenges of the proposed sex education curriculum, Assistant Deputy Minister of Education, Martyn Beckett, stated in his Affidavit and on cross-examination, that the controversial provisions, including gender identity and expression, and sexual orientation issues to which parents had strongly objected, would continue to be taught in Ontario schools (Factum of Ministry of Education, paragraph 89, Page 31). Beckett further stated that:

Teachers can draw from a wide range of available resources and strategies … and other tools prepared by organizations … . Teachers as professionals can use any particular document they wish as a resource … .  (Factum, Ministry of Education, paragraph 27,
Page 10).

This documentation could include the Wynne curriculum for use in Ontario schools, contrary to Mr. Ford’s promise.  This is confirmed by Minister Lisa Thompson who supports the Wynne curriculum, including the provisions on gender identity.  According to the government’s Factum, Minister Thompson stated (paragraph 257, pages 92-93):

We know they need to learn about consent.  We know they need to learn about cyber safety.
We know they need to learn about gender identity and appreciation.

Mr. Ford has publicly acknowledged that there has been “meddling” in the consultation process.

Decision of Ontario Divisional Court

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association and the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario had brought a legal challenge of the proposed rollback of the Wynne curriculum.  On February 28, 2019, the Divisional Court concluded that

It is the role of legislators as elected officials, not the courts, to enact legislation and make policy decisions.  Courts should not interfere with the exercise of a discretion by a statutory authority … .

The court had no choice but to reach this conclusion in order to avoid the humiliation of having its decision overturned by an appeal court.

The court, however, did pounce on and approve the provocative statements by Minister Thompson, and ADM Beckett in the government’s Factum that teachers “may use their professional judgment and teach about topics such as gender expression and other issues relevant today”.

Why bother having the sex education curriculum at all, if it can be undermined by teachers who may use other resources including the Wynne curriculum, information from other organizations, and invite outside speakers, etc., to the classrooms?  This could effectively undermine the government’s curriculum and the views of the parents on these sensitive and controversial issues.

In effect, the position of the court, that teachers may “… teach about topics such as consent, gender identity, gender expression and other issues relevant today…” contradicts its own conclusion that the government has the authority to decide on the sex education curriculum.

It is obvious that Minister Thompson has directly interfered in the consultation process and has permitted her associates to do so, with the objective of ensuring the Wynne curriculum remains in the Ontario sex education program.  She has corrupted the consultation process to serve her own purposes.

In doing so, Minister Thompson has failed in her duties and responsibilities as Minister of Education.  She has breached the public’s trust and the public can no longer have confidence in her.  Ms. Thompson’s failure to properly carry out her duties as Minister of Education demands that she immediately be removed from office.

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For further information contact:

Gwendolyn Landolt                                                      Diane Watts
National Vice-President                                              Researcher
REAL Women of Canada                                            REAL Women of Canada
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