Happening Today

Powered by Eventbrite See more >
May 26, 2022
September 22, 2017

Edmonton Headlines: Friday, September 22, 2017

School board frustrations

Written by Jeff Samsonow


We’ve got some real excitement in the first week of the municipal elections. Former Catholic school board trustee Patricia Grell is going out with a blistering post that calls into question the operation of the Edmonton Catholic School District (ECSD) board, and the need for two public school systems.

Grell isn’t running again after a contentious term on the ECSD where she and Marilyn Bergstra (who is running again) often found themselves being confronted and outcast on social and religious issues and where the board was found to be quite dysfunctional.

Grell writes her post as a letter to voters in Edmonton, and somewhat to voters in any Catholic school district. She details what she calls a “lack of independence” of the board from ECSD administration, which it’s supposed to be in charge of. This includes examples of electioneering against trustees that question school board staff. Her big question about the board seemingly falling in line with everything put in front of them raises concerns about the need for a board at all.

If Boards are just rubber stamping what the administration wants, why have school boards?

The last board of the Edmonton Catholic School District. image: ECSD

She also talks about interference and influence on the school board by the Catholic Archdiocese. We can actually see some of what she might be talking about with Bishops entering the election asking voters to make a “moral choice” at the ballot box. Considering some of the issues from the last few years, one has to wonder why supporting LGBTQ students or protecting young girls from cervical cancer with the HPV vaccine isn’t a moral choice.

If you’re voting for a Catholic school trustee next month, the post is a must-read.


While some of what Grell talks about from the ECSD might apply in other Alberta school districts, the bigger question she asks of herself after this term is whether we still need two public school systems. Nope.

From what I have seen over the last 4 years, I do not believe that Catholic schools are any better academically, socially or even spiritually than their public counterparts.”

This is a growing debate in Alberta. It certainly caught new energy in the last few years as GSAs, transgender students using washrooms, the HPV vaccine, and other social issues put students at risk. Alberta Views dived into this larger debate with last month’s cover story on Catholic schools.

While there’s certainly the discussion around the cost duplication of services, there’s also a new item working its way through the Saskatchewan court system which challenges the potential existence of Canada’s remaining separate school systems (of the publicly-funded variety).

They detail it pretty well in the Alberta Views piece, but the short version is that a Saskatchewan case challenges the constitutional protection of separate schools getting government funding for non-Catholic students. Obviously if governments couldn’t fund non-Catholic students in these schools they’d empty out fairly quickly. (Although that could see the creation of a private system for Catholic students, much like we have for other religions. That also shouldn’t be publicly-funded though.)


Interestingly, the Edmonton Public School Board (EPSB) is also facing an election where some of these “moral” choices are on the ballot. Some trustees didn’t want to re-affirm support for LGBTQ students and GSA privacy at the last meeting of the term.

Candidates from every school board are also being asked to sign a pledge that they’ll support students in GSAs, especially to protect their privacy if the students don’t want their parents to know. If your candidates aren’t on this list, you’ve got some questions for them.

More Edmonton election

This election is a chance for Edmonton to stop allowing politics in the city to be “overwhelmingly white and dominated by men.” Here’s how one group pushed to get more women on the ballot. And there’s more on this topic in the latest episode of The Broadcast.

Here are a couple of spots you can check for a multitude of stories and candidate profiles. Here’s where the Edmonton Journal is tracking the election and here’s where 630 CHED host Ryan Jespersen’s “Two Minutes to Win It” will be found as candidates do their best to pitch you.

Since the races around the Capital Region can have some impact on what goes on in and around Edmonton, I’ll keep pointing you at some of those. Morinville’s mayor has been acclaimed, and a Strathcona County mayor hopeful (and former mayor) is talking about annexation attempts from Fort Saskatchewan and Edmonton (one of those is actually happening). The next mayor and council in Beaumont is also important, as Edmonton squares off with the town over some land between the two municipalities.

Around the city

Edmonton Police are reviewing cases in response to the Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG). They’ve made progress on a few cold cases, and the overall work of the police service may be reviewed by the Inquiry (as could other police forces).

The work done by the YWCA, among other shelters and services, is so important. Jumping out to me in this story about the Walk A Mile In Her Shoes event is the four month wait for domestic violence psychologists.

The shooting of two RCMP constables forced the provincial government to make changes to how initial bail hearings are conducted. The man who shot the Mounties, killing one of them, had been out on bail through a process where crown attorneys weren’t always present, which is what’s changed in the new system.

It sounds ridiculous that the Alberta Court of Appeal wouldn’t have to provide transcripts (and/or recordings) of all its proceedings.

Labatt is investing $49-million into its Edmonton plant, and we’ll be producing stubby bottles of beer.