By Christie Blatchford
A teacher at a posh private school in British Columbia was fired last month after making an innocuous comment about abortion to his Grade 12 law class.
Though there is no way of knowing, since discipline matters are shrouded in secrecy, it may be the first time a Canadian teacher has been fired not amid allegations of impropriety, but for having the wrong opinion.
Certainly, Lori Foote, a spokesperson for the 60,000-member-strong Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation, said Wednesday that no one at the association is “aware of anyone being fired” in Ontario in comparable circumstances.
The 44-year-old teacher, who has asked that he not be identified to protect what’s left of his career, was teaching “the criminal law unit, a lesson on vice, ethics, morality and the law” to his small class in the Vancouver-area school in late November.
“I was working my way through examples of how some people’s sense of personal ethics was more liberal than the letter of the law,” he said in an email.
For example, he told them, many people might roll through a stop sign on a deserted country road, deeming it morally acceptable, even if unlawful.Such is the cost of a small misstep in a crushingly politically correct world.
In other words, he said, in a pluralistic democracy, there’s often “a difference between people’s private morality and the law.
“I find abortion to be wrong,” he said, as another illustration of this gap, “but the law is often different from our personal opinions.”
That was it, the teacher said. “It was just a quick exemplar, nothing more. And we moved on.”A little later, the class had a five-minute break, and when it resumed, several students didn’t return, among them a popular young woman who had gone to an administrator to complain that what the teacher said had “triggered” her such that she felt “unsafe” and that, in any case, he had no right to an opinion on the subject of abortion because he was a man.