Precinct 333

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

No Freedom For Teachers In Soviet Kanuckistan

This Canadian case chills me to the bone, as I am a politically active Republican in addition to being a teacher. I thank God for our First Amendment, because if I lived in Canada I would be out of a job -- possibly for this blog.

In a decision handed down yesterday, Quesnel School District Superintendent Ed Napier suspended school counsellor Dr. Chris Kempling for three months. Dr. Kempling has been employed as a counsellor since 1990, and has been active in a wide variety of volunteer positions in the community. He is also the local spokesperson of the federal Christian Heritage Party, and had written a letter to the editor of the local newspaper on behalf of his party, criticizing the Liberal government's same sex marriage legislation. The school district did not provide a single example of disruption to the school system, or any negative effect of the letter. They also ignored over a dozen letters of reference from supervisors and community members written in support of Dr. Kempling.

Think about this. The implications for non-PC teachers in Canada are astounding.
  1. The freedom to participate in political activities does not exist if you are a Canadian educator. Taking the "wrong" political position can leave you subject to suspension, or even termination. Implicit in this employment action is the threat that other party members might be so disciplined.
  2. Freedom of speech also does not exist for Canadian educators. The principles of "tolerance", "diversity", and "sensitivity" trump the the speech rights enshrined in The Canadian Charter of Liberties and Canadian law.
  3. Religious freedom is also endangered for Canadian teachers. After all, the Christian Heritage Party is based upon certain lon-standing religious teachings of the Christian religion. Would membership in a Church espousing the same position as the party, if it became publicly know, be grounds for employment sanctions?
  4. Canadian educators are now threatened with disciplinary action for actions taken or words spoken on their private time, not in their public role as an educator but instead in their role as private citizen. No disruption of the school or of the education of students needs be demonstrated.
What you have, therefore, is a reduction of human rights for Canadian educators. They have become second-class citizens. And we are not talking about some Third World dictatorship or banana republic -- we are talking about a nation that claims to be a Western Democracy which protects the rights of its citizens.

Dr. Kempling plans on fighting his suspension through the district grievance process and through the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal, on the basis that he is being discriminated against on the basis of political association. But do not hold out much hope for him -- a Canadian teacher was recently suspended and denied relief for writing a letter to the editor denouncin homosexuality. Ther eis no particular reason to expect better in this case.


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