OPINION

Barry Neufeld

Barry Neufeld, B.C.’s worst school board trustee, is back in the news.

He’s taken a page from Donald Trump’s “enemy of the people” playbook by using the “R” word to describe three employees he doesn’t like with the Black Press paper in Chilliwack.

Regular readers of this column may remember that Neufeld insulted the LGBTQ+ community a few years ago when he described the gender-identity program as “biologically absurd.”

Our province’s leading child psychologists and medical professionals are all wrong. Barry Neufeld is apparently the expert and we all need to listen to him.

Apparently Neufeld’s rant against the Chilliwack Progress was over a story about a fellow trustee, who described bullying by Neufeld. The trustee provided evidence of a sarcastic text message Neufeld sent her during a meeting.

Earlier this year, Neufeld was in hot water over suggesting a conspiracy theory that Canada’s chief medical officer Dr. Theresa Tam is transgender.

Neufeld apologized for his remark about Dr. Tam and quickly pulled the “R” word from his Tweet this week and replaced it with the words “radical left.”

His apologies are tiring and fellow trustees have now “censored” him, whatever that means.

Back to the latest controversy.

Unless used in accurate medical terms, the “R” word is grossly inappropriate and extremely hurtful.

My question is, would a student be suspended for using that word? Would a teacher, principal or support staff worker face discipline if they did the same?

Absolutely. A teacher would be hauled before the College of Teachers and there would be discipline, possibly dismissal.

The same should apply to school board trustees.

Neufeld, hiding behind free speech and his Bible, constantly gets away with hateful remarks. It’s disturbing because he’s in charge of educating children.

I don’t think he understands the concept of “public education.”

There’s also a big difference between free speech and hate speech.

The people of Chilliwack don’t seem to have a problem — they

re-elected him in 2018.

It’s my understanding there’s no law the can expel a school board trustee unless he or she commits and indictable offence.

The Salmon Arm trustees were all fired by the provincial government a few years ago when their financials lacked transparency.

If the language in Ministry guidelines doesn’t address hate speech, it’s time for a few revisions.

Inclusivity was a big plank in John Horgan’s election campaign.

If the B.C. School Trustees Association can’t do anything about this, maybe it’s up to Horgan and whoever he names as education minister to address the situation.

An online petition collected 600 names in the first few hours calling for Neufeld’s removal.

As a footnote, earlier this month, Chilliwack-Hope Conservative MP Marc Strahl (Chuck’s boy) presented Neufeld with the “Chilliwack-Hope Community Heroes Award” for his work on COVID-19.

COVID-19 isn’t the only virus plaguing the citizens of Chilliwack. There’s also hate.

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James Miller is managing editor of The Penticton Herald. He has always had a keen interest in public education.

Email: james.miller@ok.bc.ca