Toronto Catholic District School Board trustee Michael Del Grande stirred up controversy last month when he suggested that measures to protect LGBTQ identities within the district’s code of conduct meant the school must also protect pedophiles, cannibals, and blood-drinking vampires.
Now, he’s been given an award for it.
Conservative Catholic organization Campaign Life Coalition, best known for opposing abortion, awarded Del Grande their “Joseph P. Borowski Award,” reserved for “a politician who has demonstrated outstanding commitment to the cause of protecting human life and the family.” The award is named for Joe Borowski, a Manitoban legislator who famously resigned from his position in the 1970s to become an anti-abortion crusader.
Jeff Gunnarson, president of the CLC, praised Del Grande’s refusal to bow to public criticism of his hate-filled words:
Out of all the recipients of the award in the past twenty years, there is no one more deserving than Michael Del Grande. In the face of heretical opposition from Trustees Maria Rizzo and Markus de Domenico, who have been verbally bludgeoning Michael and distorting Catholic teaching… the onslaught of hit pieces by the media, and aggressive lobbying from the unions, Michael has stood firm in his obligation as a Catholic School Board trustee to uphold the faith and to protect the 90,000 children enrolled in Toronto’s Catholic schools.
Gunnarson probably overestimated the number of children Del Grande is protecting, because there’s no way all 90,000 of those students are straight and cisgender, and he sure isn’t protecting the gay and trans ones.
In fact, even as Campaign Life Coalition holds up Del Grande as a role model for anyone who wishes to protect children, he faces condemnation for having verbally attacked 16-year-old student trustee Taylor Dallin when she expressed objections to a screening of the anti-abortion film Unplanned on the grounds that it misrepresented scientific facts about abortion.
Dallin has written about her experience:
I felt completely ganged up on. [Del Grande] was yelling at me for the majority of the conversation. To be completely honest, I felt scared and helpless… I normally always stand my ground and maintain my composure, but he pushed me to the point where I was bawling my eyes out. It was only once I started crying that I got a perfunctory apology from him. Right after that he left… I now feel unsafe and unwelcome to be in the trustees’ lounge.
The school had to implement a safety plan to protect students from this award-winning defender of children, and Ontario’s Ministry of Education is calling for an investigation into Del Grande’s conduct.
Is this what “defending children’s wellbeing” looks like? Or is Campaign Life Coalition willing to admit they only care about defending children’s wellbeing when the children are willing to say, do, and think what they’re told?
Del Grande is, perhaps predictably, embracing the “persecuted Christian” narrative wholeheartedly. In an opinion piece for conservative Catholic news outlet LifeSite News, in which he described the LGBTQ community as “evil”, he complained (apparently with no self-awareness) about the hateful words people are throwing back in response to his defense of the Catholic Church’s “deposit of truths”:
A lot of Christians are killed because they are Christians. I am only harassed, hated, and repudiated for the stand that I took against a gender ideology which is incompatible with the Christian anthropology of the human person — a stand that was twisted by the media and believed by those who needed someone on which to focus their hate… Father Dwight Longenecker put it best for me: ‘First we overlook evil. Then we permit evil. Then we legalize evil. Then we promote evil. Then we celebrate evil. Then we persecute those who still call it evil.’ I call it evil.
Longnecker, as readers know, is the former Patheos blogger who once said Caitlyn Jenner was “a man dressed up as a whore.”
Birds of a feather…
The editorial prompted a response from Toronto’s mayor, John Tory, who called Del Grande’s behaviour “polarizing” and “inconsiderate,” adding:
We just can’t have a situation where people in public life seem to be suggesting that other groups, who are our fellow citizens in Toronto, are evil as opposed to good.
Nor can we have a situation where cruel behaviour is lauded as “defending children’s wellbeing” on the grounds that children harmed by that cruelty don’t really count.
Del Grande doesn’t defend all the children under his aegis. In fact, he fails to protect some of the most vulnerable students in the Toronto Catholic District School Board. Worse, he makes them a target for attack.
Few people deserve this award less.