The Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association marches in Toronto’s 2014 WorldPride parade.
TORONTO, June 11, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — For the third year in a row, the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA) will have a volunteer delegation marching in Toronto’s Pride Parade.
OECTA’s Toronto Secondary Unit (TSU) has registered as a participant in the July 3 Pride Parade, an event notorious for lewd, in-your-face ‘celebrations’ of the homosexual lifestyle. Past parades have included displays of full frontal nudity, simulated sex acts, sadomasochism, and sexual bondage.
LifeSiteNews contacted OECTA but did not hear back by deadline.
The union’s TSU ignited the ongoing controversy in 2014. Delegates at the union’s March AGM voted for the TSU motion to have an OECTA delegation march in the WorldPride Parade in June of that year.
In the immediate aftermath of OECTA’s widely publicized decision, Toronto’s Cardinal Thomas Collins publicly rebuked the union for showing an “inadequate and mistaken understanding of their faith” and overstepping its authority.
OECTA “is not the Catholic teachers; it is a union,” Collins observed in an April 2014 statement to the Catholic Register.
“Its competence is limited to collective bargaining, and the services any union provides to its members. When it goes beyond those areas, it can easily go wrong, as it has in the decision of the OECTA delegates to participate in this event,” added Collins.
Bishop Fred Colli of Thunder Bay also denounced OECTA’s move in June of that year, stating in a letter to then-President James Ryan that “Our Catholic school system and its fine reputation, is harmed by your actions.”
“I find it very troubling and strange that [OECTA] would choose this particular event as a way of expressing that, when it seems to be going completely against what we believe in many ways,” the cardinal told the National Post in June 2014. “That’s the point at which I would say, ‘Really? What are you thinking?’”
Two Catholic boards, London and York, also denounced the move, and Parents as First Educators (PAFE) gathered 7,000 signatures on a petition objecting to OECTA’s decision.
But the union’s leadership defied Catholic clergy and laity alike, with Ryan telling the Catholic Register that marching in the Pride Parade “is not an acceptance or an approval of some of the peripheral groups that might join that parade, such as the nudists or anything like that.”
“We support the Church’s teachings on chastity and we support the Church’s teachings on all issues,” Ryan said, adding that he was aware that the bishops are “not happy that we are in the parade.”
LifeSiteNews contacted the Archdiocese of Toronto for a statement from Cardinal Collins on OECTA’s planned participation in the 2016 Pride Parade, but did not hear back by deadline.
Meanwhile, led by chair Kevin Welbes-Godin, TSU’s Human Rights Committee has continued its full-court press to advance the LGBTQ agenda within the Catholic schools.
According to the TSU’s May 18 2016 AGM report, the Human Rights Committee in the last year successfully proposed a motion for an LGBTQ Working Group, with 50 percent of members self-identified as somewhere along the so-called non-binary spectrum.
It also initiated the first provincial OECTA Gay-Straight Alliance for LGBTQ teachers and allies, and continues “advocating for TSU participation in Pride Parade Toronto.”
“This committee continues to lead provincial locals in advancing the human rights of LGBTQ members,” the report stated.
Committee members include Michelle Blais, Steve Watson, Jacquie Sang, Patrick Anderson and Gillian Vivona, who is TSU executive liaison with the Human Rights Committee.
LifeSiteNews called the TSU, but Vivona and TSU president Dave Szollosy were at a conference and unavailable for comment.
According to Catholic blogger Lou Iacobelli, the LGBTQ Workgroup planned to send out a survey in early 2016 to a select group of teachers. OECTA President Ann Hawkins encouraged recipients to complete the survey “so the Association has the information it needs to move forward on this important issue.”
OECTA’s Toronto Secondary Unit also campaigned for pro-abortion NDP Peggy Nash in the Toronto constituency of Parkdale-High Park in the October 2016 federal election. Nash lost out to Liberal Arif Virani.
The Catholic union’s leadership has long flirted with dissent from Catholic teaching, particularly when it comes to the LGBTQ agenda.
It partnered with Canada’s influential homosexual lobby group EGALE in 2011, donating $1,000 to EGALE’s project to push for GSAs in schools.
EGALE was one of the leading advocates for same-sex “marriage” and is known for making vitriolic attacks on the Catholic Church when it opposes their agenda.
“I don’t actually see the contradiction,” Ryan said at that time. “OECTA decided to join EGALE because both OECTA and EGALE are committed to fighting any type of bullying.”
OECTA has also invited dissident speakers for conferences.