Parents gather at a public trustee meeting, April 24, 2023, to protest the remarks made by WCDSB trustee Wendy Ashby on social media. Photo courtesy PAFE

Embattled Waterloo trustee vacates seat

  • May 15, 2023

Wendy Ashby, the trustee for the Waterloo Catholic District School Board (WCDSB) mired in controversy because of her past Twitter activity deemed anti-Christian has reportedly resigned from her position.

Ashby emailed a statement to multiple mainstream media outlets that said she has “decided to vacate my seat at this time, so that we can all return our focus back on the important work that we have dedicated ourselves to doing."

Demands for the first-term representative to resign or be fired have been made for months, but the demands intensified throughout April and early May as more of the public became aware of her now-deleted Tweets. Contentious board meetings on April 24 and May 1 attracted substantial media attention.

The Catholic Register reported on two of two of Ashby’s posts. The first stated: “The most dangerous creature on the planet is the white Christian male. They’re a threat to anyone that is not them.” The second was, “Hush Money. Buying silence about being underpaid. White women make obedient soldiers for the christofacist patriarchy.”

Teresa Pierre, president of the advocacy group Parents as First Educators (PAFE), welcomed this development. 

“People like Wendy Ashby, who promote religious bigotry, hatred and racism, are completely unsuited for public office. PAFE is glad that Ashby has finally resigned,” said Pierre. 

A petition demanding Ashby’s resignation was posted on the PAFE website calling for 2,000 signatures. This effort attracted 3,517 signatures as of May 15. Campaign Life Coalition, the pro-life political lobbying organization, also launched a petition against Ashby. 

In Ashby’s statement to the media, she spoke out against the public drive that was mounted,

“The rage-baiting campaign that has been playing out illustrates the exact kind of harassment and online bullying that so many kids experience,” wrote Ashby. “What is even more troubling is that this behaviour is coming from adults. Most are from outside interest groups who have their own agenda.”

Pierre said PAFE was likely one of the “outside interest groups” Ashby alluded to in her statement.

“PAFE is pleased to have worked with trustees and a coalition of local parents these past few weeks to bring the situation of Wendy Ashby to light and to have pressured her to resign,” she said.

Indeed, one of Ashby’s own board colleagues, fellow trustee Marisa Philips, denounced her conduct.

“I stand with the concerned parents and community members who denounce my colleague’s words,” wrote Philips on April 26. “Racism and sexism against any group have no place in our society. These actions become especially heinous when they originate from an elected school board trustee whose hurtful comments are aimed directly at many of the families she has been tasked with representing.”

Ashby quit her role two weeks after the board decided on May 1 to hire an outside consultant to investigate if her actions constituted a breach of the board’s code of conduct. She stated her resignation allows the board to renew its focus on “important work.”

"This noise distracts from the important work that is being done to further diversity equity and inclusion at the Waterloo Catholic District School Board," Ashby said on May 14. "The willingness of this board to lead in these areas is why I chose to be a part of this in the first place and why I so strongly support Catholic education.

"I have been encouraged to continue the internal process and remain in my duly elected seat by so many.  I appreciate the support, it was overwhelming, and I know that most understand the historical context to which I was referring."

The Catholic Register reached out to WCDSB for comment about Ashby’s departure but has not yet received a response. 

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