NB Premier’s Stance Supporting Parental Rights a Promising Sign
New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs has called for a review of LGBTQ policies in schools. Henceforth, parents of children under 16 will have the right to be informed of any changes of names or pronouns at school. “For it purposefully to be hidden from the parents, that’s a problem,” said Higgs. “To suggest that it’s OK that parents don’t need to know — just stop and think about that question for a moment.”
Many Canadian parents have been thinking about that question, and for much longer than a moment. According to a recent Leger survey, a majority of them—57 percent—agree that schools have a duty to inform parents, with only 18 percent disagreeing.
Predictably, Prime Minister Trudeau denounced the N.B. government as “far-right political actors” who were inflicting “cruelty and isolation” on vulnerable people. A tight-lipped Pierre Poilievre, who has consistently eschewed any stand on gender issues, only commented that he would “leave education policies to the provinces.” Higgs, claiming his education minister, Bill Hogan, has received hundreds of emails supportive of the changes, says he’s prepared to fight an election over the issue if necessary.
It was past time a political leader in Canada stood up to the school board bullies who have had a lock on the management of gender issues—what children learn when about sex and gender, appropriate responses to early gender confusion, and what reading and video materials are suitable at any age—without parental consent or even knowledge. It’s a sad sign of the times when sympathy for parents’ reasonable rights earns a politician the label of a “far-right” transphobe from a national leader. But it is a good sign that at least one highly-placed politician in Canada seems to understand that a challenge to radical gender ideology, now completely out of control, may no longer be a political kiss of death—indeed may even prove an asset.
Another good sign is the open and occasionally successful resistance to school board aggression in promoting “Pride” above basic education. After two schools in the Thames Valley District School Board, which serves a densely Muslim population, reported high absence rates—over 60 percent of students—on June 1, the first day of Pride Month, the two schools agreed to allow faith-based exemptions from events and instruction relating to sexuality and gender. Other parents across Ontario initiated walk-outs and “pray-ins” to demonstrate their plunging tolerance for gender-ideology indoctrination of their children.
It would be hard to overstate the religious fervour of school boards’ devotion to all matters Pride, but a recorded rant from an unidentified teacher at Londonderry School in Edmonton gave many Canadians a troubling glimpse into the mindset they have encouraged. The teacher chided Muslim students who were reportedly skipping “pride activities,” presumably for religious reasons. In angry tones, the teacher tells the class that since non-Muslim students celebrated Ramadan, they need to step up and celebrate Pride. She tells the students that if they don’t agree with same-sex marriage, then “you can’t be Canadian, you don’t belong here, and I mean it, I really mean it.” Her admonition of one student, “And it’s not a joke, Mansour,” has gone mockingly viral. Needless to say, Muslims were not amused, a response politicians will accord respectful consideration (unlike the cold shoulder they confidently turn to unamused Christians and other conservatives).
I interviewed prominent advocate Shannon Boschy, who has been immersed in the campaign to curtail radical gender ideology in the school boards for years. Boschy collaborated in the organization of the June 9 Parents’ Rights Day of Action in Ottawa, reportedly “the largest protest against gender ideology in Canadian history,” and indicative of a marked shift from general parental passivity to partial, but critical activism. Boschy and I concurred in citing the experience of retired teacher Carolyn Burjoski as a tipping point in that shift.
On Jan. 17, 2022, in a scheduled 10-minute “delegation” to the Waterloo Region District School Board (WRDSB) at a meeting open to the public, Burjoski began presenting her legitimate concerns about inappropriate reading materials directed at K–6 students. She was then two weeks from retirement, and wanted to leave with her conscience clear on the troublingly sexualized content kids K–6 were exposed to.
Calmly and civilly, Burjoski read aloud portions of the books in question to make her case. In one, a young boy is “confused because he doesn’t think about naked girls, so he wonders if there is something wrong with him.” A visit to the Rainbow Club ends with him declaring he has an “asexual identity.” Burjoski suggests Rick doesn’t have sexual feelings yet simply because he is a child. Another book, she said, made hormone treatments seem “simple or even cool.”
If the board had simply let her finish, without comment, the incident would have sunk like a stone. But the chair cut her off after four minutes, suggesting her remarks contravened the Ontario Human Rights Code. Afterward, the board emailed parents and teachers to apologize for Burjoski’s “transphobia.” A downloaded video recording of Burjoski’s aborted talk (which the board tried to suppress) was posted on Rumble. Viewers were shocked by the chair’s arrogant instinct to bury Burjoski’s entirely reasonable objections.
Burjoski was stunned suddenly to find herself a cynosure of public attention. This was, as Boschy put it, “one of the first major moments in Canada to activate school parents to the issues around gender ideology and wokeness in general,” and a “catalyzing moment for many of us.” The Freedom Convoy in Ottawa gave dissenters like Boschy, “Billboard Chris” Elston, and others the chance to actually meet in person and coordinate efforts, Boschy told me, but Burjoski “was really the inspiration for almost every trustee candidate in Ontario last fall who ended being known as the anti-woke slate.”
After recovering from the shock and stress of the unanticipated brouhaha, Burjoski launched a $1.75 million defamation suit against the WRDSB and its chair. Represented by the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, Burjoski alleges that she was unfairly described as transphobic and discriminatory and became an “international news story” as the result of the WRDSB’s and its chair’s conduct “and their false and malicious statements.”
After a judicial decision hearing last week, a three-judge panel advanced Burjoski’s case—as well as a case against the WRDSB launched by trustee Mike Ramsay for equally undemocratic treatment—to the decision-making level. A victory for Burjoski in her defamation suit would be a salutary warning to other boards, validate Premier Blaine Higgs’s breakthrough declaration for parents’ rights, and set a burr under the saddle of timorous politicians. I daren’t think about the rippling consequences of a loss.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.