Caught in a lie, board reaches for “context”

- January 8th, 2013

In yesterday’s Ottawa Sun, I had a column detailing the truth behind the much publicized student trip to campaign for Obama. In a nutshell, the school teacher behind it always said that the trip was about working for the Obama campaign. According to the documents, board officials never questioned the nature of the trip until the media started calling.

In the column, I quoted from emails and memos, and in the print version, there is even a large graphic showing the original proposal that was approved by principal Norma McDonald and superintendent Manon Seguin on October 2, 2012.

Sun reporter Michael Aubry tried to follow up with the board yesterday to get reaction. First, he was promised a statement at 3pm that would answer all questions then it was put off until 4pm and then just minutes before closing up the office the board’s communications officer Mardi de Kemp sent this.

“I’m glad you connected, and I do understand that you have concerns.  We have concerns too.

We were sorry not to be given an opportunity to participate in Brian Lilley’s piece Sunday (online), Monday (print). We would have offered some context to Brian’s excerpted quotes and comments. We regret that we missed the opportunity to join this conversation in a proactive manner.

We’ll decline to comment further now, after the fact.

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Now I’ve been around this game for a little while and I am used to the BS “I was taken out of context” line that de Kemp tried to pass off. But for her to try this, when I have a stack of internal documents detailing all aspects of the conversation surrounding the trip, is ridiculous. First off, I did attempt to contact Norma McDonald by phone and email and she did not reply. I suspect that de Kemp knows this and was informed of my contact attempts and chose not to reply. As for context, I’ve got plenty of it.

The Ottawa Catholic School Board has been caught in a lie. They should fess up and maybe consider going to confession but don’t claim you were taken out of context.

As promised, here is some context to what was going on with this trip. I wish I could post the entire file as a PDF but the board’s response to the Ontario FOI request that was submitted came back as a jumbled mess of paper stapled and bound in all manner. I will post relevant portions and let readers decide.

Hopefully one day soon the board will do the honest thing.

Here is cover page of the trip proposal with McDonald and Seguin’s signature.

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Here is the proposal detailing what students will be doing. Notice that the trip is even called “Obama for America.”

Here are several pages from the presentation given to parents and students ahead of the trip. I’ve taken out only information on where the kids would stay, what they should pack etc. Remember all of these GOTV (get out the vote) activities are taking place in an Obama campaign office environment.

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Ms. de Kemp says I took her out of context so let me post the full email exchange that I quoted. In this exchange de Kemp is reacting to the media calling and advises teacher Scott Searle that he should make sure students only observe and do not participate. He tells here he can’t do that. This is a two page print out so read it straight through.

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If de Kemp, McDonald and the rest of them at the school board office want to continue to claim that I have taken them out of context then I welcome their phone calls or emails to explain and I will happily publish them.

For full disclosure, I send my kids to the Catholic school system in Ottawa and that makes me doubly upset. The board officials are setting an example that teaches children to dodge, obfuscate and then lie when you are caught doing something you shouldn’t.

The documents I have show that the Archbishop contacted the school board to ask what was going on and he was told the children were simply observing. So in addition to not telling the truth to concerned parents and the media, the board also failed to tell the Archbishop the truth.

I await further word from the board.

 

 

Categories: Politics

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16 comments

  1. Stephen Smith says:

    Good thing you guys have Pergatory(nice invention btw) to think things over.

  2. Enough already says:

    Well, the catholic church don’t have a very good record of doing the right thing and telling the truth, so why would they start now. They have lied to us for so long that it is no surprise that they lied to the Archbishop.

    Let’s face the facts, the teacher wants to go to Ohio, and this is her way of getting there cheap, on the backs of her students.

  3. Catherine says:

    No surprise here Brian. Parents get treated this way by school boards all the time. It’s what they do. That’s why I always advise parents to keep a paper trail of their dealings with their children’s school. Documents and good record keeping don’t lie.

  4. KJQ says:

    Deny, deny, deny. Then when pinned to the wall with undeniable proof – deny.

  5. Kathleen says:

    Leaving aside the inappropriateness of having Catholic school children campaigning for Obama, and leaving aside the fact that the school board is obviously lying and covering things up—was this trip even LEGAL? I mean, it would have involved foreign nationals interfering in a U.S. election!

  6. JR says:

    The teachers and school board official(s) involved should be required to attend remedial training on the (un)ethics of bringing partisan politics into school classrooms. That remedial training should also include basic morality lessons on the subject of lying and obfuscating when caught being dishonest.

    For the benefit of the improperly exposed students, the teacher and board official(s) involved should be required to explain to them what they learned from their remedial ethics and morality training sessions. The Archbishop or someone from his office should monitor this lesson to be sure the proper message has been conveyed.

  7. Jim says:

    Interesting to see the PR officer, Marie call herself a “Obama supporter and former resident of Ft Lauderdale” in her email to the teacher.

  8. Constantin says:

    Impossible not to get livid.

    Glad you caught them! Excellent work. What is the address of the Board?

  9. Antonio says:

    Of course the trip was legal because it supported Obama…if they were opposing him it would have been illegal. That being said, it sounds like the only way to educate a child today is home schooling, where they can be taught to form their own opinions, as opposed to paying $350 to go work for free.

  10. Kathie Hogan says:

    STUPENDOUS work, Brian-professional and ethical journalism. The only thing lacking is directions to the nearest confessional booth! This is just one more reason (or maybe four or five) to home school your children in Ontario.

  11. Andy says:

    Another example of deception at the Ottawa Catholic School Board. What a terrible example to the kids and the wider community to refuse to admit to a mistake, and try to lie your way out of it. A big black stain on the OCSB. Let’s hope they do some thoughtful reflection and try to earn back the trust of the students and parents.

  12. I.M. says:

    Staggering. The whole works of them – teacher, principal, superintendent, and school board members – should be disciplined if not outright fired. Blatantly one-sided political activities have no place in a classroom, never mind the ethics & legality of indirectly spending Canadian taxpayer money on the American election campaign.

    Such is the modern-day Church of the Left for you, though. Ethics & rules & laws don’t matter, only adherence to the ideology and the power it brings do.

  13. Mike says:

    One of our children goes to St Peter’s HS and is a student for the Teacher involved and we also know the Principal at that school very well.

    The teacher is an example of a very passionate person about teaching the subjects properly and tries very hard to expose them to real world issues that we face today. Our child is a straight A student and she is very challenged in his class. She loves his law class. Unfortunately his choice of the field trip to support Obama’s campaign doesn’t fall in line with our Catholic teachings/faith, this should have been vetted properly beforehand by the teacher, principal and school board.

    Mrs Norman is also a wonderful principal and has been trying to make positive faith filled changes in the school since she has taken over at St Peters HS. It is nice to see someone like her who is trying to make a difference in the school system for our children and their faith. Unfortunately in this case, she has been caught up with this mess. She has an open door policy with the parents and at times we have gone to her to point out issues that some of the teachers and the chaplain have said that do not follow our faith as Catholics. She has been very courteous with us and has promised to look into and help make changes to our requests. She is also a faith filled person who practises her faith regularly.

    I would suggest that we draw our attention to the Catholic School Board itself, with the superintendents and trustees. It is time that they start to put pressure on the teachers, principals and chaplains to teach real Catholic faith in our schools. In my experience, the problem stem from the school board instilling a “bureaucratic system” that continually put up road blocks to our faith…I am not sure if this comes from one person or many in the school board. Unfortunately presently there are many teachers and a chaplain in our system that either don’t know their faith, don’t practise it or outright contradict it to our students. Not sure how these people got hired into the school board, sometimes it is not about how many degrees a person may have, instead it should be about their faith, first and foremost.

    Our children have on a number of occassions had to put their hand up and argue against the teachers/chaplain involved that our Catholic faith does not teach what they are saying. This is not acceptable and I pitty the other children in the class that do not have the faith or family at home that teaches them about the Catholic Church.

    We should start by ensuring that all new teachers/chaplains, are committed to their faith and that they teach a solid Catholic foundation to our students. If the teacher doesn’t agree with our faith, then I would suggest that they go to the public system. A good start would be to start putting priests back into our schools as chaplains where they can support both the teachers and students in their faith development.

  14. sarah says:

    Great job Brian. If the R.C.C wants us to take our faith serious, then the R.C.C should take this situation serious. This is very important.

  15. a m wetson says:

    What a surprise Lilly the cracker bring his hatred of all things Obama to some sort of horror that the teacher took kids to Ohio to show how a real politicial machine works. One trip compared to hours of indoctrination by the church. Oh the horror

  16. a m wetson says:

    @ IM so no tgeaching of anti abortion debates in the classroom or why homosexual is evil or why you should support the pope over the government. Which of these could you ban from the classroom

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