Windsor man claims documents prove interference in school board election
Eric Renaud is claiming election interference in Windsor, Ont., on Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2018. (Angelo Aversa / CTV Windsor)
A former trustee candidate for the Windsor Essex Catholic District School Board wants the Ministry of Education to investigate alleged interference from the Diocese of London in the last school board election.
Eric Renaud says he has proof the diocese interfered after he received documents from a Freedom of Information request.
Renaud wanted all documentation on why newsletters signed by Bishop Ronald Fabbro, Director of Education Terry Lyons, board chairperson Barb Holland and the presidents of the board’s teachers unions were inserted in church bulletins in wards 3 and 4, where he lost in October's election.
Renaud says copies of emails and minutes show a committee named FACE -- Friends and Advocates of Catholic Education -- met on October 5 in light of media coverage regarding the merging of public and Catholic schools boards, as advocated at a news conference held by Renaud and Public School Board trustee Alan Halberstadt.
Renaud claims the emails show the Catholic school board used government resources to meddle in the election.
“The uses of taxpayer resources violates the election act, as well as the public trust,” says Renaud. “We need to ensure that something like this never happens again.”
CTV Windsor reached out to the Diocese of London and the Catholic school board for a response.
The Catholic school board released a statement that said “We stand by the original actions of our FACE committee, and believe we are well within our rights as Catholic education leaders to communicate our vision for publicly funded Catholic education in Ontario directly to our supporters.
CTV Windsor also received a statement from the Bishop Ronald Fabbro.
It said “In autumn of last year I co-signed a letter together with Director of Education Terry Lyons, Board Chair Barb Holland, and the presidents of the board teacher’s unions.
As Bishop of the Diocese of London, and as a former educator myself, I believe in the right and the obligation to speak about the importance of Catholic education. The letter was part of the healthy sharing of ideas that typifies a democratic election. It certainly did not interfere in the voters’ right to make an informed choice.
The Ministry of Education has yet to respond to CTV’s request for comment.