The Toronto Catholic District School Board has voted to sanction trustee Michael Del Grande for breaching the Code of Conduct for comparing LGBTQ+ terms to criminal acts.
Among the sanctions, the board agreed to censure Del Grande for behaviour which was disrespectful to the LBGTQ community, that he publicly apologize and complete an equity training program.
Del Grande now has 14 days to provide a written submission to the board’s decision.
The move reverses a previous vote on Aug. 20 that fell short of finding Del Grande had violated the code despite a third-party report which concluded three months earlier that he did.
The motion received the requisite eight votes during a lengthy special meeting called by the board on Wednesday night that stretched into the early hours of Thursday morning and often times featured cantankerous discussion.
At one point, chairman Joseph Martino exclaimed, “I can’t take this anymore” while calling for a five minute break shortly after midnight as trustees were bickering over various points of order and amendments.
Trustee Nancy Crawford voted against the motion, saying it was “not a good way to resolve the problem” while trustees Michael Del Grande, Teresa Lubinski and Garry Tanuan all elected not to cast a vote.
Crawford added the move sets a “very, very serious precedent” and could mean that trustees will be dealing with reopening complaints regularly.
In voting to reverse the previous vote and for sanctions, trustee Maria Rizzo said “we have to right a wrong” noting that the controversy could have easily been solved with an apology.
The board failed to pass an amendment that any report on breaches of the Code of Conduct be made public.
Former Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynn was among the delegations to the meeting calling for Del Grande to be sanctioned and the report be released publicly.
A least several delegates disagreed with the motion to revisit the vote, calling it “a vindictive agenda.”
Del Grande raised issue with the special meeting, saying his charter rights were being violated by the board by having the topic brought up once again adding that he would not participate in any discussion when it came to the motion in question.
In a legal opinion prepared for the meeting, Del Grande’s lawyer Charles I.M. Lugosi said the board had no right to hold a second vote on his clients comments.
“To proceed would be unlawful and amount at a minimum to an abuse of process that will harm the credibility of the Board. The legal issues that apply go far beyond the interests of the adversaries involved, and undermine the integrity of the Board itself.”