The Hamilton Spectator

Tempers flare at board meeting, trustees walk out


The Halton Catholic school board may be taking a step back from its recent charity donation ban.

The issue, which has received significan­t public backlash in recent weeks, came to a tipping point this week at the Catholic school board meeting — resulting in its abrupt end after several trustees left in protest following the dismissal of a motion related to the ban.

Put in place in February, the ban prohibits financial donations to charities and nonprofits that support — directly or indirectly — abortion, contracept­ion, sterilizat­ion, euthanasia or embryonic stem cell research.

Parents were then mailed a list of charities that had received donations from schools within the board in the past, stating it was reviewing which organizati­ons may continue to receive donations from its schools.

The list initially consisted of 100 groups including the Halton Women’s Place, Toronto’s SickKids Hospital and the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation, but was shortened to 30 after the March 20 board meeting. The list was then posted on the HCDSB website, briefly.

At the meeting, chair Diane Rabenda disallowed a motion that included publicatio­n on the board website of a list of approved charities and nonprofit organizati­ons supporting research that proves their compliance with resolution 61-18 and any documents that may undermine the approvals, among other items.

This led to a heated discussion between Rabenda and Oakville trustees Paul Marai, Anthony Danko and Anthony Quinn. As Rabenda tried to move to the next item, the three Oakville trustees intervened to appeal her dismissal of the motion.

But Rabenda decided to dismiss the motion, as suggested by trustee Arlene Iantomasi, because she felt the board had ignored the Education Act by enacting the ban before completing consultati­on .

Marai, Danko and Quinn left their seats, along with Susan Trites and Helena Karabela.

As a result, the meeting lost quorum and was adjourned.

All remaining agenda items were pushed to the next scheduled board meeting on April 17.

An online petition to overturn the motion has garnered more than 21,000 signatures.

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