Toronto Catholic school trustee Mike Del Grande has put forth a motion to fly the pro-life flag over Toronto schools in May. Photo from

Trustee fights for pro-life flags on Toronto schools

  • April 16, 2024

Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB) trustee Mike Del Grande hopes that on April 23, almost 200 TCDSB schools and the Catholic Education Centre will get the go ahead to fly the international pro-life flag annually during May.

The successful passage of this motion would also mandate an exclusive pro-life curriculum during the National March for Life scheduled on May 9. Del Grande calls for time “devoted to explicitly teaching the portions of the Catechism identified in this motion, the book entitled The Gospel of Life, authored by Pope John Paul II, and the corresponding portions of the Holy Bible, that is the source and foundation of the Church’s teachings.” 

Del Grande is not directly speaking about the bill because of his ongoing legal proceedings against the TCDSB. The board levied sanctions against Del Grande on Nov. 12, 2020 arising from a 2019 board meeting when he argued against adding “gender identity” and “gender expression” as grounds for discrimination. He is appealing with help from Campaign Life Coalition.  

Though Del Grande is not conducting interviews, he did provide a file containing background information and commentary about his bill to media outlets. He opened this document by stating, “Responsible journalism means putting the Del Grande motion into context and proper perspective.”

Del Grande offered multiple reasons why his colleagues should support his proposal. First, it “is a public affirmation of integrity and loyalty to the religious teachings of the Church, which is the fundamental reason why Catholic schools exist.” He also stated, “silence in the face of the ongoing deaths of millions of unborn children is, at the very least, moral complicity supporting the act of abortion.”

Del Grande also contested arguments made by fellow trustees — particularly Kevin Morrison and Maria Rizzo — in the media, especially in The Toronto Star.  

“Some trustees have made media statements against the motion alleging without proof there is American style politics at play,” wrote Del Grande. “Yet these same trustees may have no problem supporting flying the American pride flag, which was designed by a gay American artist.”

Morrison raised several objections to the motion. He first questioned the mandate for a full instructional day devoted to pro-life teachings. 

“I have spoken to a lot of parents about this motion the past few weeks,” said Morrison. “I brought it up because they didn’t know it was a thing. I also have spoken to over 40 students, ranging from ages 12 to 26, who are either currently enrolled or have graduated from one of our schools. Everyone — all were young women, by the way, but that’s neither here nor there — understood the Catholic teachings on the sanctity of life. Some of them were able to speak on it in a way that was better than I would be able to speak on it. The simple fact is we have a 100-per-cent success rate in teaching Catholic values to our students. In my opinion, we do not need to take away a day of tuition to focus on this one thing. It’s already done.”

­Morrison said more pressing issues than Del Grande’s motion include more help for students affected by the current economic climate, support for special needs pupils and modernizing old school buildings.   

Jack Fonseca, the director of political operations for Campaign Life Coalition, who is functioning as Del Grande’s press surrogate, offered a potential solution for Morrison or anyone else concerned that this aspect of the motion is a time-waster.

“There are all kinds of school days devoted to LGBT ideology and anti-Catholic concepts about gender identity and gender expression,” said Fonseca. “Time is taken away from learning math, science and literature to listen to guest speakers and LGBT activists promote the trans and gay lifestyle and ideology… All kinds of non-academic fillers are being put into the school calendar. If he’s concerned about time being spent on non-academic subjects, he should get rid of those. Come on. We’re talking about one day being focused on the Church teachings about abortion.”

As for the international pro-life flag, pro-life supporters say if a secular Pride flag can fly outside Catholic schools in June, a faith-based pro-life flag should fly in May. 

On May 6, 2021, the board controversially voted to raise the Pride flag and proclaimed every June Pride month. The trustee said this decision “cannot be undone,” but he empathizes with “parents and other Catholic voters who feel quite strongly” they are not getting equal representation. However, he refuted the need for a pro-life flag.

“I will bring you back to the fact that we are the largest publicly-funded Catholic school board in the world,” said Morrison. “I have schools that have been around for 170 years. We are that symbol. They should look at us and feel proud that we are teaching Catholic values to over 80,000 students every year.”

Fonseca countered by stating “that flying the pro-life flag is along the lines of (imparting) the Catholic Church’s doctrinal teachings against abortion. I don’t understand why he would have an issue with it. It’s not a political symbol. It’s a spiritual symbol."

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