At the meeting of the Toronto Board of Education on June 23, 1983, Trustee Mazzotta moved the following motion with regard to the Morgentaler abortion clinic. It was seconded by Trustee Stevenson:
“Whereas, this Board of Education has long prided itself for being a leader in social justice and the protection of human rights; and
“Whereas, this Board has worked diligently in its attempts to protect human life through committees such as Thinking and Deciding in a Nuclear Age and the Health and Fitness Committee; and
“Whereas, this topic has been and will continue to be discussed in current events in our schools;
“Therefore, be it resolved, that this board stand for the protection of all human life and stand absolutely opposed to the opening of the Henry Morgentaler abortion clinic in the city of Toronto, and communicate this opposition to the Attorney-General, the other Boards in Metro, City Council, the federal and provincial governments, and all of our employee groups.”
Trustee Endicott immediately moved to put the question which will effectively, if passed, deny debate on the motion. This putting of the question passed and the motion was voted on without debate. The motion was supported by trustees Mazzotta, Stevenson, Chumak, Disero and Moll, but defeated 13-5.
As you can see, this motion did not wish the board to affirm a pro-life stand, which would have automatically been defeated. But it asked the board to voice it’s support of the present laws of Ontario. As you can see, if refused to do this. Section 229(c) of the Education Act states that a teacher must:
“inculcate by precept and example respect for religion and the principles of Judaeo-Christian morality and the highest regard for truth, justice, loyalty, love of country, humanity, benevolence, sobriety, industry, frugality, purity, temperance and all other virtues.”
Teachers must have policy and example set for them by the board, but the majority of this board refuses to be led by either moral or legal arguments. The board, as a body, should support the laws of the land as they now stand. If they do not agree with the law, they are free to lobby for change.
Even the NDP members of the Manitoba government who do not agree personally with the federal abortion law are prosecuting Henry Morgentaler and members of his staff. While they are lobbying to change the federal law, to obtain free-standing abortion clinics, at the same time they are performing the duties of their office – especially the Attorney General.
The NDP Government of Manitoba should serve as an example to this board. But the Toronto board of Education refuses to be governed by such niceties as upholding the law over the land. It is, therefore, setting a very poor example of citizenship for both its teachers and its students.
Maureen Godsoe is a former Separate School representative on the Toronto Board of Education.