Francine Champagne, elected trustee of the Louis Riel School Division (LRSD) in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. (LRSD.net/Screenshot via The Epoch Times)
Early in June, several Canadian news outlets reported that Francine Champagne, an elected trustee of the Louis Riel School Division (LRSD) in Winnipeg, Manitoba, was suspended for allegedly taking “inappropriate actions” relative to the “Trustee Code of Conduct.”
CBC News reported that the LRSD has publicly accused Champagne of targeting the “2SLGBTQIA+ community” and causing harm to the entire school division. The board unanimously voted to suspend her without pay for three months, “the strongest sanction possible under the Manitoba Public Schools Act.”
According to the CBC, LRSD Chair Sandy Nemeth said: “This decision to suspend trustee Champagne came after the realization of some incredibly unfortunate—and I will define unfortunate to mean disrespectful, hateful—comments on her Facebook page specifically indicating transphobia, homophobia, and just a general complete lack of [respect] for the LGBTQ community.”
Evidently, board members unanimously concluded that Champagne had breached the board’s code of conduct regarding “human sexual diversity.”
Nemeth told the CBC that “there’s a lot of work to be done.”
In the familiar prosecutorial style of our times, the CBC report provided few details about the actual content of the trustee’s allegedly “hateful” remarks.
Reasonable adults generally accept that there can be honest disagreement over political, cultural, and moral issues.
Sound judgments require attention to both sides of an argument. Moral discord shouldn’t give a more powerful party carte blanche to dismiss another as hateful and malicious.
Members of the LRSD made enormously damaging, Kafkaesque accusations against Champagne. But fair-minded citizens should suspend judgment until the positions of both parties can be fully examined and understood.
Here’s what I gleaned from an interview with Champagne:
She believes she was elected to the school board in November 2022 on the basis of her strong traditional values. Champagne is described on the board website as a trustee with experience in both homeschooling and public education. In conversation, she candidly presents herself as an active citizen and a practicing Catholic. Her daughter is studying at a Manitoba university.
The LRSD’s allegations about Champagne are based on half a dozen memes she shared on a restricted access Facebook page. Champagne insists she had no intention of entering them into the realm of public discourse.
One of the posts in question read: “Make men masculine again. Make women feminine again. Make children innocent again.” Another implied that individuals who identify as something they aren’t risk basing their lives on a lie. Another argued that males who insinuate themselves into women’s intimate private spaces should be regarded as predators.
She also posted a link to what the left would consider to be a hyperbolic conservative website that’s critical of things such as the World Economic Forum’s “Great Reset,” the World Health Organization, and the ubiquitous influence of the radical transgender movement in Western schools.
One post depicted an image of a 1950s-era mother and daughter around the kitchen table. The little girl says, “Mommy, I think I’m a boy.” The mom answers, “Well, you’re not!
To the best of my knowledge, this is the sum total of LRSD’s case against their dissident colleague. Simply put, Champagne shared the concerns of hundreds of thousands of Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and sensible secular North American parents who are currently protesting the hypersexualization of children in public schools.
With considerable sadness, Champagne told me that some fellow trustees came to her defense during an in-camera board meeting and asserted that she isn’t a hateful person. But in a public forum, with members of the rainbow coalition howling for her removal, all voted in favor of suspension.
Champagne became the perfect Pride Month trophy sacrifice.
Battered by a Fateful Realignment of Values
Champagne has been battered by one of the most fateful realignments of values in our post-modern age.
Effective civic paradigms generally include fundamental principles for peaceful coexistence. They’re social frameworks within which we seek mutual understanding, tolerance, and respect for personal boundaries.
Natural human empathy should encourage us to appreciate what others are thinking and understand the effect of disparate ideas and practices. Sound community models generally require the regression toward a mean that is morally acceptable to a rational majority.
Powerful progressive intellectuals often dispense with longstanding customs and turn a blind eye to cultural guidelines that have been in place for generations. Social chaos and injury frequently follow.
Discarding the concept of childhood innocence and the right of parents to influence their children’s choices has been one of the most pernicious paradigm shifts in modern times.
As a result of her resistance, Champagne has been battered and wounded in a culture war that leaves few of its victims unscathed. She has forfeited a teaching contract at St. Boniface University and her elected position as an LRSD trustee. She now has little income to care for herself and her daughter.
It’s hard to believe that decent Manitobans will permit such an unjustified and disproportionate persecution to stand. Champagne can only pray that good men and women will come to her defense.
William Brooks is a Senior Fellow at Frontier Centre For Public Policy. This commentary was first published here.