Letter from Halton MPs to Catholic Trustees was inappropriate

By Pepper Parr

January 18th, 2022



Last Friday, the four members of Parliament who represent the people of Halton sent an open letter to the Trustees of the Halton District Catholic School Board.

Cabinet Ministers Karina Gould (Burlington); Anita Anand, (Oakville) along with Pam Damoff (Oakville North Burlington) and Adam VanKoeverden, MP, (Milton) wrote about a matter that is not something in which the federal government is involved.

Education is a provincial matter with trustees elected at the local level to represent parents with children in the school system.

The Gazette wonders if it is appropriate for Members of Parliament to meddle in a provincial matter that is being fiercely debated at the local level.

Emotions are running high; views are strongly held. What value does the opinion of someone from a senior level of government add?

The concerns of the four Members of Parliament are legitimate enough but one has to wonder what the upside is for the MPs. Have they brought any clarity to the issue?

Do any of them have children in Catholic schools?

Karina Gould has a mandate as Minister of Families, Children and Social Development but that mandate does not reach into issues that are local.

The differences between the Catholic communities are philosophical and political and they will be resolved politically.

The parents who are opposed to the flying of the Pride flag in front of schools support their children; love their country and believe they are serving at their level of political leadership.

If the federal Liberals had anything of value to add perhaps a comment would be appropriate.

They add nothing other than their opinions.

The Gazette feels the letter was inappropriate and that the members of the Catholic community have to work this out on their own.

Related content:

Letter to the trustees

Salt with Pepper is the musings, reflections and opinions of the publisher of the Burlington Gazette, an online newspaper that was formed in 2010 and is a member of the National Newsmedia Council.

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10 comments to Letter from Halton MPs to Catholic Trustees was inappropriate

  • Carol Victor

    Good for Karina Gould to keep her many engagements with the community front and centre…she is the representative of Burlington first and foremost….that is why she was elected…there are plenty of people in office past and present who spend too much time hiding from their constituents.

  • Greg S

    I disagree with Mary. I don’t agree it’s appropriate for the MP’s to use their official capacity to send an open letter to a local elected official. They are not speaking on behalf of all of their constiuents on this matter.

    If they wanted to provide commentary as citizens they are welcome to do so in private. This screams retail politcs to me.

    As an aside, I agree with the sentiment of the MP’s letter. and I also agree with Pepper.

  • Carol Victor

    Could not agree more with Mary Hill…well said.

  • Philip Waggett

    It may be that the four Liberal MP’s feel strongly about this issue and they are certainly entitled to express it. On the other hand, Burlington’s MP, Karina Gould, is extremely focused on keeping her name front and centre no matter what the issue or pretext; if you check her FB page, she publishes post after post about her many visits throughout Burlington–many of which have absolutely nothing to do with her legislative jurisdiction and which, prior to Christmas, were occurring when she should have been in Parliament (readers should recognize that MP’s get long breaks from Parliamentary sittings for constituency work)–accompanied of course by her omnipresent camera crew.

  • Fred Untermeyer

    I disagree with Mr. Parr. I am pleased that these federal MPs have the courage to speak out. It is their right and their responsibility. How do our provincial MPPs feel or our Council?

    • Bob

      Hopefully our provincial politicians are working on provincial affairs and our local politicians are working on their affairs. This is a Catholic School Board issue and none of their business

      And as an addendum, I agree with their message, just not how they delivered it

  • Mary Hill

    This piece is an “opinion” piece and is stated as such. It is not a news report. It is the published opinion of an individual who happens to hold a megaphone. The writer has stated in the opinion piece in reference to the four MPs “They add nothing other than their opinions”. That is true. The writer of the piece adds nothing but his opinion. Everyone is entitled to an opinion and to state that opinion as best they can.

    These four individuals are Halton’s elected federal representatives and so are viewed as community leaders, whose opinions are likely valued. Maybe more valued than say that of a journalist who uses his media platform to not only report the news, which is his brief, but to also push a personal opinion on any specific matter.

    Surely a federal politician, not acting in as a representative of the federal government, but as a local representative of the residents has the same right to use their platform to express an opinion as does a journalist. Are those politicians not allowed to voice opinions on any local issues, such as say the applicatiobs to build high rises in downtown? Must they stay silent? I think not

    • Bob

      The issue here being that they didn’t write the letter as constituents. They signed the letter as representatives of the Federal Government and as such should not be getting involved in local politics. If each of these Members of Parliament had written individually as tax paying citizens who have children in the RC school system there would be no issue, but one MP who signed the letter is Hindu and one grew up with Jewish parents and attended the public high school system so neither should have any voice in the debate. That is the issue.

      • Mary Hill

        Bob, I need to correct you. On two points.

        The four very clearly signed the letter in their capacities as MPs not as members of the federal government. Anita Anand did not state her position as Defence Minister. Nor did Karina Gould identify as Minister of Families, Children and Social Development. All four identified simply and solely as Members of Parliament. Just as a PC or NDP MP would have done.

        The religious or ethnic origin of these four or anyone voicing an opinion is completely irrelevant. The Catholic School Board is funded from residents’ tax dollars. So it is accountable to all residents not just those who are Catholic or send their kids to a Catholic school. Maybe in the absence of equal funding to Jewish, Muslim, Hindu or any other religious sect, maybe it is time for funding of Catholic schools to be ended.

        • Joe Gaetan

          On Jan. 26, 1962, Bishop Burke of the Catholic Diocese in Buffalo, N.Y., banned the twist dance from all U.S. Catholic schools. Students’ “pompadour” hairstyles, made famous by Elvis Presley were banned at the Billericay School in Billericay, Essex UK in 2013. In the late 70’s, Elvis Costello and his band were banned from SNL because they opted to play ‘Radio, Radio’, a song which criticised the commercialisation of broadcasting. We all know how all of that turned out over time and without any meddling from elected politicians.
          Rainbow flags and sidewalks are there to signal who we are as a society and what we value. They do not reflect how our society or how our institutions turn that symbolic gesture into action, or how we treat each other. I suspect most citizens can figure out all by themselves why these 4 Liberal politicians and the Mayor of Burlington chose to weigh-in.
          The letter the four Liberal MP’s jointly penned clearly shows they did so as, “As the federally elected representatives for Halton”.
          “On January 18th you have a chance to stand up for change. As the federally elected representatives for Halton, we express our unwavering support in favour of raising the flag. Honourable Anita Anand, MP Oakville Honourable Karina Gould, MP, Burlington, Pam Damoff, MP, Oakville-North Burlington Adam VanKoeverden, MP, Milton”