Paul Fromm, a Peel county high school English teacher, with 25 years teaching experience, had his contract terminated last night by the Peel Board of Education. Fromm was a founder and director of the Canadian Association for Free Expression, formed in 1981. The decision occurred after four hours of closed door deliberations by the Board of Trustees. Previously, over three nights of hearings, they had heard almost eight hours of submissions, videotapes and legal arguments by Paul Fromm and lawyer Doug Christie of Victoria. The Board Administration was acting on a complaint by the League for Human Rights of B’nai Brith, a political lobby group which enjoys charitable tax status. The League had been lobbying since 1991 to have Fromm fired. A January 15 press release from the League for Human Rights of B’nai Brith had prematurely asserted that Fromm had already been dismissed.
“It would now appear that the Peel Board’s hiring and firing is dictated by B’nai Brith,” Fromm commented afterwards. The decision is being grieved immediately under the collective agreement, says District 10 OSSTF (Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation) President D’arcy Kingshott, who was present with Fromm when the Board’s decision was announced. During the hearing, Christie and Fromm presented a video of some of Fromm’s former students who praised him as a highly effective and caring teacher who had instilled confidence in them. Fromm came under attack for his political views and criticisms of federal multiculturalism and immigration policies. During their presentations, Fromm and Christie demonstrated that the complainants, the League for Human Rights of B’nai Brith and Alan Dutton of the Canadian Anti-Racism Education and Research Society (CAERS) were closely tied with the Toronto-based Anti-Racist Action, a group which has been banned as a “hate” group from a number of Ontario Board of Education, including Wellington County, Scarborough, and Durham.
They also calld the Board’s attention to a video of two agents of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) who called ARA a “Trotskyist, anarchist group” and linked them with the arson of Ernst Zundel’s house in 1995 and other violent acts in Toronto. Both Dutton and B’nai Brith spokesman Dr. Karen Mock had attended a June conference sponsored by the ARA and had lobbied Metro Council for funding for this group. Furthermore, another speaker at the conference, David Lethbridge who teaches Psychology at Okanagan College, boasted of having provided much of the material used against Fromm to B’nai Brith. Lethbridge is a member of the Communist Party of Canada and a contributor to the party’s monthly newspaper, People’s Voice. Fromm and Christie told the trustees that the complainants were highly partisan and politically motivated and that their complaints were vexatious harassment and without merit. “This is a grim day not just for me and my family but for all teachers in Ontario,” Fromm stated after the Board announcement.
“Any teacher who has made any political statement or expresses any political views, right, left or centre, will have to start looking over his shoulder. Should a persistent pressure group decide to complain his political views could well cost him his job.” The Board’s decision, says Fromm, “sends a chilling message to teachers. If you think about the issues of the day, if you have any political views, keep your mouth shut, if you want to keep your job.”