It has been a few months since Conservative MP for Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke, Cheryl Gallant, has said something so inflammatory it literally makes headlines from coast to coast. But her latest accusation is that Ontario’s new sex ed curriculum was created by a pedophile.
In a nearly empty House of Commons (vacant seats surrounding her), Gallant stood last Thursday and presented accusations that a pedophile wrote the new curriculum to a muted “hear, hear,” from her caucus colleagues (uneasy with her extreme accusations) allowing her voice to come across loud and clear for the cameras.
Is there any truth to the claim she makes? Possibly.
In 2013, former Deputy Minister of Education Ben Levin was arrested after an international probe accused him of seven accounts of child exploitation. Levin had not been in the legislature since 2009; although even then, he had only been a Deputy Minister and was never in charge of crafting policy or curriculum. Before the scandal broke, however, he was selected to help Kathleen Wynne organize her transition to the Premier’s office, due to his experience in transitioning offices in both Manitoba and Ontario. Wynne was shocked to discover what Mr. Levin had done, but allowed let the Justice system to do its work. The Justice system did and found Levin guilty on several counts.
She insisted that, as a Deputy Minister, Levin had no hand in crafting her proposed curriculum in 2010, which had been presented after Levin left politics and was withdrawn before Levin’s story broke. The current sex-ed curriculum is not even the same one that was used when Levin was in office; contrary to Mrs. Gallant’s claims. Since this version looks specifically at “sexting” (a recent phenomenon), it couldn’t be the same. Controversy has risen from the Progressive Conservatives at Queen’s Park as to how much consultation was done when it came to this curriculum, and it seems as though at least one parent from every school was given the opportunity to fill out a private survey about what should be taught.
While Mrs. Gallant’s accusations have toyed with fact they are ultimately misleading. Following them she proceeded to ask the House of Commons to pass legislation that seeks harsher penalties for those engaging in pedophilia. However her call for support was closely followed by the announcement that the Conservative government had cancelled funding for a highly effective rehabilitation program for those convicted of sex offences crimes. The program has a success rate of over 80% and experts insist that it’s cancellation will make our streets less safe; contrary to the Conservative’s assertions.
Gallant completed her remarks by calling upon Federal Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau to exceed his power and order that Wynne’s government withdraw the curriculum; failing to realize that the Ontario Liberal Party (like the Quebec and BC Liberals) are not affiliated with the Federal Party and deviate on policy issues. Perhaps Mrs. Gallant is hoping to stir up trouble for the Liberal candidate in Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke, given the absence of the gun registry to beat the Liberals over the head with this year.
PC Leadership candidate Christine Elliot has argued that parents need to be consulted further on this topic. In response to Mrs. Gallant’s remarks, Elliot cautioned against such extreme rhetoric saying “for other people to opine on [the curriculum], one way or the other, in very extreme terms, doesn’t serve anybody.” Which was a polite way of telling Mrs. Gallant to keep her nose out of provincial business. Elliot has had enough to deal with recently having to walk a very fine line, not wanting to alienate both the far right Conservatives (who now form the PCs base) but also those who vote for the “Progressive” part of the PC brand. With PC MPPs denouncing evolution and saying that sex ed “especially” shouldn’t be decided by Kathleen Wynne, Elliot needs to have her cats tone it down if she hopes to win the 2018 provincial election. She nonetheless has no control over Mrs. Gallant. No one does.
Much to the consternation of the local MPP for Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke, John Yakabuski, Mrs. Gallant steals the spotlight on issues of the province. The Ontario Education Minister has recommended that provincial Tories follow Elliot’s lead and distance themselves from Cheryl, since she doubts that Prime Minister Harper will order her to apologize (although he has forced Gallant’s hand before!)
Although Mrs. Gallant raised a point (unwarranted as it may have been) of concern about the Ontario sex-ed curriculum, parents can count their children safe; the new curriculum was written by neither a pedophile or an idiot. An overview of the curriculum can be found here.