It’s been raining all day in the GTA, as if even the weather is protesting Ontario premier Doug Ford’s asinine and tyrannical decision to invoke the notwithstanding clause to get his way and reduce the size of Toronto’s city council after a Superior Court judge ruled against his plan.

“It appears that Bill 5 was hurriedly enacted to take effect in the middle of the city’s election without much thought at all, more out of pique than principle,” Superior Court Justice Edward Belobaba wrote. “As things now stand — and until a constitutionally valid provincial law says otherwise — the city has 47 wards.”

But you probably know this. Today it’d be hard not to hear that particular news, and Doug Ford’s reaction to the ruling. It’s been everywhere. Doug Ford borrowing pages from the Trump play-book like facts don’t matter, like The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms doesn’t matter. But they do. Doug Ford doesn’t represent Ontarians when he picks a fight with Toronto, then with vulnerable Ontarians who'd been taking part in the basic income project he cruelly and thoughtlessly axed, then Ontario teachers (via his supremely ugly snitch line), and now with the Charter of Rights itself.

It’s pretty clear that Doug Ford doesn’t care what most of us think or value—that Ford only cares what he thinks and values—and that he keenly enjoys acting punitively √† la the current small-minded U.S. president. Want decent representation for your city? Too bad. Want decent sex ed for your kids? Doug says nah.

Or tries to say nah. Because Toronto and Ontario will fight him every step of the way. I’m enormously proud of Ontario’s teachers for insisting on doing right by the province’s young people despite what Ford decrees. “Ontario's largest teachers' union is asking a court to stop the provincial government from forcing educators to use a 20-year-old sex-education curriculum and to cancel a "snitch line" for parents to anonymously report concerns about what is being taught in classrooms.”

If you want to know the difference between Ontario’s interim sex-ed curriculum and 2015′s the Globe and Mail have summed up points where the two versions markedly differ. You can also read the full texts of the 1998 curriculum and the 2015 update here. It’s incredible to note that the interim version doesn’t even mention the concept of consent while in the 2015 version, "students learn in Grade 6 that consent is defined as “a clear ‘yes’ ”, and that anything else, including silence or uncertainty, is not consent. In Grade 7, students learn the importance of clear communication with a romantic partner about all aspects of sex, including consent. Consent is taught again in Grade 8."  The interim sex-ed curriculum will also be letting kids down in woefully inadequate coverage of concepts including LGBTQ rights, sexting and online bullying.

The Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario union argues that the  government is
 “preventing them from communicating accurate information that is critical to students’ health … in a modern, diverse and pluralistic society." and violating the Charter by “increasing the risk of physical and sexual violence, transmission of sexually transmitted infections, cyberbullying, and online child exploitation.” And it is perpetuating “discrimination against LGBTQ+ students ... by excluding topics related to sexuality, gender identity and same-sex marriage” in a way that casts them as “abnormal.” By “restricting and coercing teachers” from providing up to date information, the government is undermining their professionalism.
Keeping kids in the dark about sex won't keep them safe. It never did—ignorance isn't a shield—and now, when the outside world infiltrates all our homes more than ever, we need to arm young people with knowledge to a degree some parents are uncomfortable with. Frankly, our own discomfort shouldn't even come into the equation.

By the way, Toronto sex educator Nadine Thornhill is teaching Ontario's nixed sex ed curriculum on YouTube starting today when she's covering anatomy for primary students. Such a terrific and important project!


Finally, if you're in Ontario, please email your MP and tell them to vote no to the legislation that would override the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. We can't afford to let Doug Ford to go unchallenged. He's only been in power for two and a half months and is just getting started:  Stop Ford Trampling Our Rights.

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