Saturday is municipal election day across BC. This means dozens of people (typically around 30% per municipality) will show up and cast their ballots for mayors, councils, and school boards.
While the big issue in Vancouver has been the Occupy Vancouver tent camp set up on the steps of the Vancouver Art Gallery, in Burnaby the clash is over the school board.
This past year, members of the Burnaby School Board passed an anti-homophobic bullying policy. It generated a lot of heat from conservative religious groups who saw this policy as somehow threatening their right to raise homophobic children.
These parents felt so wronged that they formed a group called “Parents’ Voice” with the goal of taking over the Burnaby School Board. I should mention here that in addition to fireworks at Halloween, metro Vancouver is also unique for having political parties in municipal politics.
Parents’ Voice is now in more hot water for some anti-Islamic comments associated with a website linked to the party’s founder.
Burnaby school trustee candidate Charter Lau is in a bit of hot water for his connection to a Christian organization’s online statements about Muslims.
The organization in question is the Christian Social Concern Fellowship. Lau was director and chair of the group but stepped down this year, although he’s still an active member. The Muslim comments on the group’s homepage were by Rev. Wayne Lo.
“We have to pray for Canada that more Christian public servants can be bold witnesses to act with justice according to biblical teaching to counteract the influence of Muslims in our society,” Lo wrote.
I didn’t realize that Muslims were influencing our society, but I am worried if fundamentalist Christians start entering the public service en masse.
Burnaby Now, which reported on this latest development, has a few more gems.
A former director of the mosque, Daud Ismali, founded the party. Homara Ahmad, a member of the mosque is also a candidate for Parents’ Voice. Imaad Ali is the new spokesperson for the mosque and denies that the mosque was endorsing anyone.
“The fact of the matter is our association does not endorse any party or candidate,” [Imaad Ali] said. “We’re a charitable organization,” he said. “We’re not actually allowed to take a stand like that.”
Imaad also said there is varying opinion within the mosque’s community on the school board’s gayfriendly policy.
“Obviously in Islam, homosexuality is not allowed, but we can’t really focus on that, it’s not an issue for us right now,” he said.
So the Mosque isn’t officially endorsing Parents’ Voice, but some members seem to be very involved with the party.
On Saturday, get out and vote to keep Parents’ Voice off the Burnaby School Board. I don’t really care who you prefer (the other main parties are the incumbent Burnaby Citizen’s Coalition, TEAM Burnaby and the Greens), just keep Burnaby schools safe for LGBTQ students.
Update: The Burnaby NOW contained some factual errors that have been (hopefully) cleared up above. Here’s their notice:
Correction: The Burnaby NOW originally misidentified Daud Ali (outgoing chairman at the Burnaby mosque) as a supporter of Parents’ Voice, when it is Daud Ismail, (who has been a director with the mosque and is past president of the B.C. Muslim Association) who was involved with the group and helped delivered a petition to Christy Clark. We apologize for the error and any confusion caused as a result.