Toronto Catholic District School Board trustees shot down a motion, put forward by Scarborough—Agincourt trustee Michael Del Grande, to fly the international pro-life flag on every building in the school board each day annually for the entire month of May.

Out of all TCDSB trustees in attendance, eight out of ten voted against the motion on Tuesday.

Along with flying the flag, the motion was supposed to officially declare the board’s opposition to all laws allowing abortion and formally encourage staff and students to attend the National March for Life, which takes place this year on May 9.

Ward 7 trustee Del Grande and Scarborough’s Ward 8 trustee Garry Tanuan voted in favour of the motion.

After the vote, guests can be heard shouting in protest and were kicked out for being “unable to remain silent.”

“Not even if the Pope was there would they have changed their vote,” Del Grande told True North in an email.

Etobicoke’s Ward 2 Trustee Markus de Domenico told True North he thought the vote was a clear indication of the board’s commitment to “providing a rich educational experience and not dilute that learning with US style politics that has no place in the classroom.”

In Del Grande’s opening remarks, after reading his motion he spent his three minutes reading the words of Pope Francis, who along with the teachings of the Magisterium of the Catholic church, all trustees have sworn fidelity to.

He read from the Pope’s document on human dignity written April 8, 2024.

“The acceptance of abortion in the popular mind, in behaviour, and even in law itself is a telling sign of an extremely dangerous crisis of the moral sense, which is becoming more and more incapable of distinguishing between good and evil, even when the fundamental right to life is at stake,” Del Grande read.

Tanuan supported the motion in his remarks as well.

“As the indigenous child or person looks at the orange every child matters flag in June as a symbol of justice, truth, reconciliation and hope, so does the person that looks at the pro-life flag for safety, truth and hope,” he said.

As East York’s Ward 11 trustee Angela Kennedy declared she would vote against the motion, people in the guest gallery were heard shouting “shame!” and “you will have to answer to Jesus Christ, one on one!”

“Parents expect that when they send their son or daughter to a TCDSB school that they will receive a well-rounded education rooted in gospel values with Christ at the centre of all learning,” she said before being interrupted again.

One guest attendee called out “what a joke!”

She continued, “parents do not expect the kind of indoctrination that this motion promotes.”

“The TCDSB has Catholic graduate expectations and this motion if passed would destroy the meaning of these expectations and render them meaningless,” Kennedy said. “It would be impossible to be a discerning believer informed in the Catholic faith.”

Maria Rizzo the Catholic trustee for North York in Ward 5 defended her stance to support the pride flag but not the pro-life flag in her remarks against the motion saying the pride motion was student driven and this was not.

“I am deeply disturbed by this,” Rizzo said “We as Catholics and Catholic teaching believe in the death penalty. I don’t see this anywhere here? I don’t see anything on euthanasia here, but for some reason two men thought they knew better than everybody else.”

Del Grande said there is “no legitimate reason” the motion shouldn’t pass unanimously as each trustee has said they support the Catholic church’s unchanging teaching on abortion.

“I trust you will do the right thing this evening for the children, for our Catholic faith, and for God who himself became a defenceless unborn child whose divine heart no doubt breaks with every abortion. That’s a holocaust,” he said.

According to the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada about 100,000 abortions take place in Canada each year.


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