PROTEST BRIAN RUHE’S FIRING BY DELTA SCHOOL BOARD FOR HIS REVISIONIST VIDEOS
Canadian Association for Free Expression
Rexdale, Ontario, M9W 5L3
Ph: 905-566-4455; FAX: 905-566-4820
Mr. Ray Weremczuk,
District Manager, Continuing Education Business Programme and Facility Rentals.
Delta District School Board
August 30, 2016
Dear Mr. Weremczuk:
I noticed on the Internet your firing of meditation instructor Brian Ruhe after 15 years service teaching meditation courses for your board. Your action is highly discriminatory and unfair. Your letter makes it clear there have been no problems with Mr. Ruhe’s role as an instructor. The problem you indicate is the expression of his views on World War II. It might be noted that the videos he produces are done on his own time and his own dime and are not communicated to Board students. He has never used his classes as a “bully pulpit.”
Your letter indicated, as follows:
“Quite apart from any media articles, the YouTube videos compiled under your name present a very public expression of conduct that runs contrary to the policies and values of Delta School District.
Specifically, Delta School District’s “Administrative Procedure 350 – Appendix A” describes its District Code Of Conduct this way: “The District, which includes staff, parents and students, has the responsibility to provide and ensure a safe and positive climate for learning.” Unacceptable Conduct interferes with a positive learning environment. A specific example of unacceptable behaviours includes “(a)ny efforts to … discriminate against another person based on, but not limited to, race, religion, gender, physical or intellectual disability, marital or family status, sexual orientation, or age.”
As well, Delta School District’s Values statement, part of its overall Vision statement, is “Caring, Respect, Responsibility, Community, and Excellence”, with “acceptance”, “equality”, and “inclusion” key terms within that statement.
Based on this, Delta School District will cancel the two dates for Meditation courses that you have been contracted to teach in the Fall 2016 and selects not to contract instruction with you in upcoming terms.”
You offer absolutely no evidence Mr. Ruhe has failed to “insure a safe and positive climate for learning” pursuant to Delta School District’s “Administrative Procedure 350. His students are adults. Even if they become aware of his controversial views, as adults in an increasingly diverse and divided society, they must be expected to relate to him as a meditation instructor, even as we all, in our daily dealings, relate to people whose cultures or views we may not like.. Assuming Mr. Ruhe were gay and a student had a problem with his sexuality, would you be considering firing him? I doubt it. That’s called the heckler’s veto.
You reference unacceptable behaviour which “includes “(a)ny efforts to … discriminate against another person based on, but not limited to, race, religion, gender, physical or intellectual disability, marital or family status, sexual orientation, or age.” Frankly, this policy is absurd, overly vague and likely illegal. Let me suggest two examples. A board employee is approached for a date by a married man. She rejects the proposal because he is married. That is discrimination on the basis of family status. Another board employee pointedly declines to make a donation to a person soliciting donations for the Salvation Army because,as a Catholic, he’d rather support his church’s St. Vincent de Paul Society. That’s discrimination on the basis of religion. Yet, both actions would, according to Board Code of Conduct be wrong.
Mr. Ruhe’s videos are expressions of historical, political and cultural OPINIONS. He has never suggested he would deny instruction or service to anyone on the basis of race, religion, gender, etc.
Ironically, you reference the Board’s Vision statement and indicate the values of “acceptance”, “equality”, and “inclusion”. Did it escape you that firing Mr. Ruhe discriminates against him for his beliefs and certainly violates the concepts of acceptance and inclusion for a clearly competent instructor.
I hope you will reconsider and reverse your decision which, as it stands, persecutes Mr. Ruhe and discriminates against him for the non-violent expression of his own beliefs on his own time.
The Canadian Association for Free Expression is Canada’s most active free speech advocate. We have intervened in court and human rights hearings for more than 30 years. We are taking an active interest in Mr. Ruhe’s case. He seems the latest victim — let’s hope, just potential victim — of mean spirited, intolerant censorsious political correctnesss.
I note that the public mood is shifting on the issue of political correctness. According to a just published Angus Reid poll, “A strong majority of Canadians feel that political correctness has “gone too far,” a new poll suggests.” The poll conducted “on Aug. 17 using a sample of 1,510 Canadian adults, asked respondents if they agreed or disagreed “that the current climate of outrage over political correctness has just gone too far. A full 76 per cent said they agreed with the statement.” (Global News, .August 29, 2016)