Personal attacks taking over school board elections


Advertise with us

Read this article for free:


Already have an account? Log in here »

To continue reading, please subscribe:

Monthly Digital Subscription

$4.75 per week*

  • Enjoy unlimited reading on
  • Read the E-Edition, our digital replica newspaper
  • Access News Break, our award-winning app
  • Play interactive puzzles

*Billed as $19.00 plus GST every four weeks. Cancel anytime.


Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 22/09/2014 (3171 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

There’s some really nasty stuff showing up on social media about these upcoming school board elections.

Twitter is starting to look like those TV commercials we see during elections in The States, the ones in which candidates attack their opponents rather than present the positive reasons they themselves should be elected.

When you read them, keep in mind that the people posting these tweets want to be the stewards of our children’s education.

Here’s one from Lee Doerksen, a candidate in Ward 3 of Winnipeg SD: “Charter Schools like Hitler Youth? Labour Council Trustee M. Wasyliw tweets link Why???”

Start with the reference to Labour Council Trustee (in caps). No points for subtlety.

I follow incumbent trustee Mark Wasyliw on Twitter and haven’t yet found this link he allegedly posted. What Wasyliw does is regularly post links to reasoned, thoughtful analytical pieces that other people have written about issues in education, many of them in the U.S. I read this particular link, a blog written by a professor of history and education at New York University, and it talks about a charter school in the U.S. which supposedly demands a high level of unquestioning obedience to authority from children. If you read way, way down, you’ll come to a commenter who makes allusions to the Hitler Youth and the Red Guard.

And on that basis, Doerksen takes a shot at Wasyliw, and asks ‘Why???’

 I’ve emailed Wasyliw but have yet to hear back. this morning.

Then there is David Lobson, a Ward 1 WSD candidate, who has expressed admiration for Doerksen on Twitter and who said this weekend that labour candidates are there for labour, and not for children. Fair enough, though backing it up would be helpful.

Lobson tweeted: “Babinsky Sneesby and ramos tell the truth. The others?”

Those people would be incumbents Mike Babinsky, running for re-election; Jackie Sneesby, not running; and Anthony Ramos, running for city council.

The clear implication is that the other six incumbents, two of whom are seeking re-election, do not tell the truth — no evidence, no elaboration. Not a reasoned criticism of their policies, of their decisions on programs, not even of the penchant for doing business behind closed doors — just a cheap shot at six people’s integrity.

Meanwhile, I’ve never seen a situation such as the one in Louis Riel School Division, in which a school board candidate dragged the family of the division’s superintendent into the public eye for potential political gain.

Ward 4 of LRSD candidate Jeremy Friesen demanded to know on Twitter what it says about the public education system when highly-educated people with influence over public education are sending their children to private schools. He was talking about LRSD superintendent Duane Brothers.

He kept it up, telling people to ask Brothers why public school enrolment is declining in Manitoba.

Anyone who’s seen Friesen’s tweets and blog will recognize that he’s running as an outsider against a perceived establishment, that he’s running to fix a system he believes to be broken. He’s not the first to do so — though he is the first that I can recall who tried to place the children of a senior educator in a negative context in order to win votes.

Brothers was quite naturally very taken aback to find a candidate — a man who could be one of his bosses in a few weeks — using his children as an election ploy.

Brothers said that both of his children are “in a great public school.

“I fight for public education, always have. Decisions on where we send our children to is complex, usually involves other adults (the other parent), with the mutual goal of what’s best for each individual child.

“Given the decision is not mine alone, yes I do believe him to be out of bounds.”

Wednesday morning, Friesen acknowledged on Twitter that he should have spoken to Brothers.

Set aside for a moment that enrolment in public schools has been pretty much stable for several years, and that enrolment is increasing in Louis Riel School Division. Set aside for a moment that Louis Riel School Division is the province’s leader in promoting French immersion, and was the second division to adopt specifically anti-homophobia education plans. Set aside for a moment that Statistics Canada has tracked for years an overall decline in the Manitoba birthrate. Set aside for a moment that enrolment in funded independent schools has levelled off, and that the growth has been in home-schooling and in non-funded independent schools, the tiny rural schools usually based around a specific faith group.

Forget all that, it’s superfluous to what’s happening here.

Is this the way we want to decide who will be the elected stewards of our children’s education?

Report Error Submit a Tip


Advertise With Us