Monique LaGrange, the Red Deer Catholic school trustee who compared rainbow pride flags to Nazi swastika banners in a social media post in late August, has been given the bum’s rush by the Red Deer Catholic school board.
In a news release published yesterday afternoon, the Red Deer Catholic Regional Board of Trustees said it had decided to disqualify Ms. LaGrange for “violating sanctions issued on September 26, 2023 and further violations of Board Policy and the Education Act.”
The decision, the release said, was made “with a commitment to maintaining RDCRS’ foundational statements of supporting inclusive learning communities that foster care and compassion for students, families and staff.”
As required in such circumstances by Section 90 the Education Act, Ms. LaGrange resigned immediately as a trustee.
So today’s chapter of this story is fairly cut and dried.
The interesting question, though, is what happens next.
From here it looks as if Ms. LaGrange didn’t give the school board a lot of choice.
Chances are the board would have been happy to let the matter slide if she had said she was sorry about the offensive post, pulled it down, and promised never to do it again.
Instead, speaking through her lawyer in September, she framed her original post as a matter of conscience, described the sensitivity training she was asked to take about such invidious comparisons as “re-education,” and said she believed the Holy Spirit had instructed her to make the comment.
She will now, presumably, have the opportunity to see what the courts have to say about both her sincerity and the limits of her right to vent controversial opinions in public while a member of a board that remains dedicated, in the words yesterday of Board Chair Murray Hollman, “to fostering a safe, secure, caring, respectful and inclusive learning environment for our students, staff and community members.”
Beyond that, though, there are influential people in Alberta who share her views and have a militant commitment to advancing them, who will see an opportunity in this situation to make trouble for the board, attack the rights of LGBTQ people in our society, and generally engage in culture warfare for political reasons.
Remember, former premier Jason Kenney’s friend, John Carpay, notably made exactly the same comparison in 2018 while opposing the introduction of Gay-Straight Alliances in Alberta schools.
Mr. Kenney, who once compared Mr. Carpay to American civil rights hero Rosa Parks, complained about his Nazi-flag/pride-flag commentary, but refused to do anything about it.
More recently, as is well known, Mr. Carpay has been in hot water for other things, and is no longer able to practice law anywhere in Canada for three years after admitting he hired a private gumshoe to follow a judge presiding over a case in which he represented one side.
David Parker, director of the Take Back Alberta faction that now controls the United Conservative Party board, tweeted after Ms. LaGrange’s troubles came to light in September that “the Red Deer County Catholic School Board will be replaced in the next municipal election.”
“Every single trustee will be removed from office, except Monique,” he continued. “Then, we will fire the Superintendent. This will happen in every school board across this province until this woke ideology is eradicated from any decision making role in our schools. If the Minister of Education has a problem with this, we will remove him from office.”
So it’s pretty clear where the man some believe is the de facto leader of the UCP stands.
Mr. Parker appeared not to have commented on this topic on social media last night as this post was put to bed, but we naturally await his input with interest.
Beyond those two, of course, there are others – including some in the UCP Caucus – who share Ms. LaGrange’s opinions.
Readers will recall that voters in the nearby Lacombe-Ponoka Riding chose Jennifer Johnson as their MLA in the May 29 election, despite her having been dropped as the UCP’s candidate by Premier Danielle Smith for being caught comparing transgender children in school to excrement in cookie dough.
When Ms. Johnson recently rose from her Independent seat in the Legislature to ask her first question in Question Period, she was applauded enthusiastically by the UCP benches. She will eventually be welcomed back to the bosom of the Government Caucus, it is predicted here.
Ms. LaGrange, by the way, is but a shirttail relative of Health Minister Adriana LaGrange, a former education minister and Red Deer Catholic school trustee.