On Saturday (September 19), voters will choose between seven candidates running in a by-election to replace former North Vancouver school trustee Jane Thornthwaite. She stepped down after being elected as a B.C. Liberal MLA. The public doesn’t normally pay much attention to board of education elections, which is unfortunate.
Several years ago, the Surrey school board spent huge sums of taxpayers’ money going to the Supreme Court of Canada in a futile attempt to stop a teacher from using books that featured same-sex parents. A lawyer in that case, Cindy Silver, is a candidate in the North Vancouver school district by-election. In the Surrey same-sex-books case, Silver represented the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vancouver, the Catholic Civil Rights League, and the Canadian Alliance for Social Justice and Family Values Association.
Silver, a former executive director of Christian Legal Fellowship, has also represented Focus on the Family. In this capacity, she told a Senate committee in 1996 that “I happen to believe that homosexuality is wrong.” She also told the committee that she is not homophobic.
According to the LGBT advocacy group Egale Canada, Silver submitted a petition to Parliament in 1994 advocating against amendments to the human rights code, the Canadian Human Rights Act, or the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms “in any way which would tend to indicate societal approval of same sex relationships or of homosexuality”.
In 2005, she lost a bid for a B.C. Liberal nomination in North Vancouver–Seymour. In 2006, she ran as the federal Conservative in North Vancouver, losing to Liberal Don Bell. Given her previous experience as a North Vancouver school trustee from 2002 to 2005, Silver has a good chance of winning the election. For the sake of gay and lesbian kids in the district, we want her defeated.
We are not recommending Doreen MacKay-Dunn, who is married to Coun. Doug MacKay-Dunn, because we doubt she’ll act forcefully against the premier on child poverty or issues related to kids with disabilities.
Our preferred candidate is Cyndi Gerlach. A mother of three children, including two with disabilities, Gerlach came close to getting elected in 2008. For several years, she has worked closely with other parents to create grassroots opposition to B.C. Liberal education policies.
Gerlach’s candidacy has been endorsed by Patti Bacchus, the well-regarded chair of the Vancouver board of education. There are several other candidates with much to offer, but among them Gerlach has the best chance of defeating Silver.
Eligible voters who live in the District of North Vancouver can cast ballots on Saturday between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. at seven locations: Balmoral Jr. secondary school, Blueridge elementary school, Capilano elementary school, Cleveland elementary school, Lynn Valley Community Recreation Centre, Lynnmour elementary school, and Parkgate Community Centre.