Codes of Conduct Used to Silence Critics

BY Teresa Pierre
Toronto, September 27, 2013
 
Catholic Trustees in Kitchener-Waterloo recently decided Trustee Anthony Piscitelli had violated the board's code of conduct in a Sept. 18 opinion piece in the Waterloo Region Record. They voted 6-2 to remove him from board committees for four months for saying that the board should consider allowing non-Catholics to attend Catholic schools.  Piscitelli is not appealing the ruling. 
 
Canadians should be seriously concerned about a growing trend within local school and municipal boards to use codes of conduct to censor their colleagues' free speech.  
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                As an op-ed in the Toronto Sun by Brian Kelcey put it:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Anthony Piscitelli  
                       "even the most frustrated public servant should get it: Candid debate is to democracy as deep water is to a fish."               
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   
Despite all the critical public attention given in the past few years to the topic of bullying, politicians still haven't gotten the message that bullying is wrong, whether in the boardroom or on the schoolyard. Shockingly, city councillors in Newmarket recently surrendered their collective authority to determine appropriate meeting conduct and supported a move by the mayor to assume sole jurisdiction.  
 
Councillor Di Muccio observed in the Toronto Sun"This move will seriously limit a member's ability to express an opinion if the Chair decides he doesn't like that member."   The city council in Victoria, B.C. narrowly defeated a similar measure recently.

Kelcey also cites the rough treatment Toronto public school Trustee Josh Matlow received from his peers in 2010 for criticizing lavish spending on a board event.
 
We urge PAFE supporters to support all Trustees' democratic rights to be heard, even if their opinions are unpopular or controversial.  Trustees have not been given the power to punish the legal political views of their colleagues.  We believe that it is entirely the role of the taxpayer to correct their politicians in all matters and of the bishops in Catholic issues.
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