Toronto Catholic school trustee Angela Kennedy believes her bid for education representative on the Toronto board of health was denied because of her faith. Register file photo

Board of health snub called anti-Catholic

  • April 8, 2015

TORONTO - Catholic school trustee Angela Kennedy is accusing some Toronto politicians of conducting “a smear campaign against Catholics.”

The veteran trustee with the Toronto Catholic District School Board made the claim after city councillors debated Kennedy’s views on abortion, the HPV vaccination and gay-straight alliances as they rejected her bid to become the education representative on the Toronto board of health.

“I was stunned,” Kennedy said. “Anyone who applies for a job at City Hall, their application should be private until such time that they are recommended.”

Despite 45 years as a registered nurse, 15 years as a diabetes educator and five terms as a school trustee, Kennedy was rejected by a vote of 20-17 on April 1 to fill a spot on the 13-member board of health.  She was vying to become the first person from the TCDSB in 13 years to fill the education representative position on the board.

“I am very disappointed,” said Kennedy, who was nominated by Toronto’s Catholic trustees to apply for the City Hall post. “I did not go there as an individual candidate who applied as a community member for the board of health. I applied as a member who is representing the Catholic ratepayers of this city; one-third of the population of the City of Toronto.”

The board of health comprises one education representative, six community representative and six city councillors. This was the second time Kennedy was rejected for the education position, a four-year term.

Four years ago Kennedy wondered if she was rejected because of her faith; now she knows, she said.

“I kind of knew but I couldn’t confirm that the reason that they didn’t choose me (four years ago) was because I was Catholic,” she said. “Now it is out there.

“I am a Catholic school trustee (and) I am elected by Catholic ratepayers who are electing me because of my views around the Catholic values. So I am very upset about it.”

Mike Del Grande, chair of the Toronto Catholic board and a former city councillor, also believes that Kennedy’s rejection is due to her faith and that the vote sends a disheartening message to the entire Catholic community.

“Ms. Kennedy has been unfairly vilified for her personal views on matters relating to her positions as an elected Catholic trustee, which in our opinion is a flagrant violation of her religious freedoms,” said Del Grande. “To campaign against her because of her faith I think that is real, real sad commentary. I guess the message to a  significant minority in this province is Catholics need not apply.”

Councillor Joe Mihevc, who put forward the motion to block Kennedy’s appointment, rejects Del Grande’s view.

“I’m Catholic, I’ve applied (and) I’m the chair” of the board of health, he told the Toronto Sun. “If you look at the vote on council, many of the people who did not support her candidacy were Catholics and are Catholics in good standing.”

But Mihevc indicated that Kennedy’s personal beliefs trumped her qualifications.

“I think council should be diligent in making sure that people who are selected to agencies, boards and commissions, who basically do not support the very mandate of that agency, board or commission not be permitted to serve,” he said.

“You should not be on the committee (or board) ... if you’re going to oppose everything.”

Kennedy believes that view violates her rights.

“They don’t seem to want to hear any views that deviate from their views,” she said. “I thought we lived in a country where there was freedom of speech, freedom to believe in whatever religion you wished and freedom to have whatever views and opinions that you want.

“It is very clear to me that they (City Hall) have a certain point of view and they want to make sure that everyone sings from the same song book as them.”  

With Toronto Catholic’s board of trustees behind her, Kennedy is now considering legal action.

“I’m going to look at my options around the Human Rights Commission, I’m going to look at my options with the Integrity Commissioner and I’m going to look at my options to see whether or not the provincial ombudsman can help me,” she said. “I really feel very disturbed that the Catholic ratepayers in the Toronto Catholic board ... don’t have any representation on the board of health and we haven’t had that representation in 13 years.”

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I can't believe this!!! God bless

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