Wednesday, 27 January 2016

In praise of LGBTory

Listen people, everyone knows the Conservative Party of Canada is late to the proverbial Pride party. But that does not mean they should not be invited to it.

This previous summer LGBTory was almost shut out of Capital Pride in Ottawa, but such a prospect never should have been on the table, because this issue of equality should never have been a political one. I think most Conservatives would accept that it was their party that had initially most this issue political. It was the leadership of Stockwell Day and (yes) Stephen Harper that fought against equality for the LGBT community. (Note: To Mr. Harper's credit, he does carry a record of fighting for the international LGBT community with former Member of Parliament John Baird at his side; especially for a party who once boasted a prominent MP who stated, "Why do gays have to be out there in public, always debating that they want to call it marriage? Why are they dressed up as women on floats?")

But those days seem to be in the past. The record of the Harper government is unmatched in fighting for LGBT rights (an argument can be made for Pierre Trudeau's removal of homosexuality from the criminal code). And with a party now in opposition and heading toward a leadership election, Rona Ambrose, the Party's interim leader, and Michelle Rempel, who is rumoured to be considering a bid for the Party's 'permanent' leadership, are proudly marching at the front of the pack with LGBTory to bravely entrench same-sex marriage in the party's official policy.

There will be those who identify with other parties that will be intent on a knee-jerk response to paint the Conservative Party as 'johnny-come-latelies' (perhaps they may be), but that misses the point; that being the necessity to allow opposition to equality in marriage for the LGBT community to be swept into the dust bin of history.

It should also be noted that Patrick Brown, leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party, demonstrated his support by being the first sitting PC leader to walk with a Conservative delegation of this size in Toronto Pride. Potential federal leadership candidates Michael Chong and Kellie Leitch have also expressed their support.

I ask people to join me. Commend the Conservative Party of Canada for accepting this movement by LGBTory. They have earned it.

Sunday, 24 January 2016

The Ombuds query

During my campaign I advocated for a TDSB ombuds. I continue to believe the Board would benefit greatly. So I must express some confusion as to how this how not an issue that has arisen during the ongoing TDSB by-election in Ward 21 - Scarborough--Rouge River.

The reality of such a position is that it only comes with advantages to students, parents, and the Board. A specific ombuds would centralize a role that is currently a patchwork of bureaucrats; allowing for consistent responses to similar issues. The Board would also give families a clear route once an issue is not satisfactory to them with the additional charge of reporting to the Board.

I am supportive of an Ombudsman role. I know some of the current trustees are, as well.

However, if students and parents truly want to advance this agenda it is necessary to speak up. There has been no better time outside the current by-election. Yes, Scarborough--Rouge River, this one is on you. You alone, have the ability to speak up for students and parents across Toronto. Do not waste it.

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Information: Additional P.A. Day

An additional Professional Activity Day (P.A. Day) that has been added to the calendars of all schools in the Toronto District School Board (TDSB).

All TDSB schools will have a newly designated P.A. Day on Friday, April 15, 2016. This additional P.A. Day has been mandated by the Ministry of Education as a result of provincial labour negotiations.

All TDSB schools will be closed to students on Friday, April 15, 2016. On this day, teachers will be taking part in professional development on provincial education priorities identified by the Minister of Education.

Most Before-and-After School Programs will offer full-day care for children currently registered in their program on the P.A. Day. Parents/Guardians are encouraged to speak to their local child care provider for further details.

The remainder of the 2015-2016 school year calendar remains unaffected. As always, details on the school year calendar can be found on the TDSB website at:

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

National Inclusive Education Month

Inclusive education means that all students attend and are welcomed by their neighbourhood schools in age-appropriate, regular classes and are supported to learn, contribute and participate in all aspects of the life of the school. Inclusive education is about how we develop and design our schools, classrooms, programs and activities so that all students learn and participate together.
Community Living Toronto is proud to sponsor the “Fifteenth Annual Awards for Inclusive Education”. This award is given to recognize outstanding practices in inclusion within the school system. Awards will be given to both the Toronto Catholic District School Board and the Toronto District School Board.
This year awards will be given to educators who demonstrate a belief in inclusive education by:
¨       Promoting the rights of all children in the neighbourhood, including those with an intellectual disability, to attend their local school and receive a quality education
¨       Supporting, encouraging and facilitating the inclusion of children with an intellectual disability within an appropriate grade classroom
¨       Assisting the student to achieve their full potential by ensuring necessary classroom accommodations and curriculum modifications occur
¨       Providing and modelling a welcoming, accepting environment that ensures the student does not remain or become socially isolated
¨       Valuing the unique contribution of all students
¨      Welcoming and encouraging the involvement of parents and/or others knowledgeable about disability issues
For further information please contact:
Mia McGowan at 416-438-1165 ext 222 or

Petitioning Toronto District School Board and the Ontario Ministry of Education: Make Learning a Liability: Change the Toronto District School Board's Special Education Plan

This petition has come to my attention from one of the finer rookie Toronto District School Board (TDSB) Trustees Alexander Brown, who first noticed it in the TDSB school council Facebook group. As the Special Education Advisory Committee has already started seriously focusing on how the TDSB can do a better job at delivering special education services, I thought it best to share.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Realizations with the passing of my grandfathers...

I've had to rewrite my 'year old in review'. This is because since I began writing this I have lost my last grandfather. I don't know who reads my work here, but I do know I want to share with you the importance of this man and by extension all three of my grandfathers to me.

When I was born I didn't have a father, but by the time I was adopted I had three grandfathers;

¤ My Grandpa Aaron; the gentlemen,
¤ My Grandpa Lionel; the intellectual, and
¤ My Grandpa Glass; the hero.

My grandfathers have always seemed so much larger than life, as though they were characters from some film iconic to our time on this planet.

Grandpa Aaron, a pharmacist, would pay for the medication out of pocket to help those that could not afford it; an illegal act that surely saved lives. Grandpa Lionel, a psychiatrist, spent a lifetime researching PTSD; even when it was not formally recognized. Grandpa Glass was a hero. And I mean in the classical sense. His military career led to the achievement of seven individual medals, including the French Legion Medal of Honour. Suffice to say the newborn that once had no male in his life would not grow up lacking those from which he draw inspiration.

But those men are gone now. And my life seems a little less complete. I have come to accept this as a permanent feeling as a result of losing those important to me. Death has always been hard for me to accept. I suspect it is supposed to be that way. Losing people of great importance to oneself was never meant to be easy. We are supposed to feel that. So when I that those men are gone I feel sad. I will always miss them. But it is in missing them that they can never truly be gone because I can never truly forget them. My Grandpa Aaron will always be the man that introduced me to baseball. My Grandpa Lionel the man who used to spend a good hour on the phone discussing politics. And my Grandpa Glass the man who had seen so much but never lost his sense of humour and was always able to make me laugh.

My world is a little less full with them gone.  And I find myself increasingly disappointed that my daughters will not have the same fond memories of them that I do. But as we turn to 2016 I cannot help but hope. I don't foresee a time when I won't miss these three men that shaped me, but I do know the inspiration they instilled allows me to be a better man and a better father. Rachel and Lily are their legacy and I would not have it any other way.