On April 5 2021 The Current drew its readers’ attention to an article published by the Canadian Anti-Hate Network (CAHN) which focused on Our Lady Seat of Wisdom College (SWC) policies and the College’s links to conspiracy theorists. It mentioned its anti-LGBTQ policies and its links through faculty members to “ultra-right conservative media blog, LifeSiteNews and Catholic Insight magazine.” The article’s title “The Small Canadian College Town home to an Anti-LGBTQ media empire and Covid conspiracists” sets the scene for the revelations that follow in the article. See links below.
Early last year CAHN published another article entitled “The TradCath Community throwing its support behind the ‘Freedom Convoy.’” It noted that “A short drive from the nation’s capital, Madawaska Valley is home to multiple religious institutions promoting a far-right interpretation of Catholicism that has been boosting the convoy protests.” It disclosed that John Henry Westen, co-founder and editor in chief of LifeSiteNews encouraged participation in the convoy, and SWC co-founder and faculty member John Paul Meenan not only promoted it on Catholic Insight but also personally attended the convoy’s descent on Parliament Hill.
The convoy resulted in downtown Ottawa being gridlocked and subject to massive disruption for almost a month. It has been reported that it cost the city $36 million in additional costs of policing and related expenditures. That does not include the significant economic burden suffered by local businesses arising from the orchestrated disruption.
We therefore suggest that it is no coincidence that the Valley had to experience the recent attempts supported by over 500 residents to persuade our Council to reverse its decision relating to the celebration of Pride month and the showing of the Pride flag. The signatories to the Petition presented to MV Council revealed a large number of them were faculty, alumni or student members of SWC supplemented by known supporters of the College. The reasons given for the Petition must therefore be viewed with scepticism, bearing in mind the documented history of Anti-LGBTQ views at SWC, and on LifeSiteNews and Catholic Insight.
This calls into question the genuineness of the reasons given at the meeting, said to be reliance on the principles of democracy and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, etc. The people who presented the Petition, Rae Stanley and Noah Kluke, included in their submission the following statements. Stanley said: “The intent of the presentation is to promote respect and tolerance for the beliefs and identity of all as is incumbent on a free and democratic society…. We are only trying to uncover the fullness of truth with consideration of all sides of the issue at hand in order to make informed decisions as is our civic duty.” In explaining why he and his wife were involved, Kluke said: “We have growing concerns about our religious liberty in the present context that infringes upon state neutrality.” Whereas some of the individuals who signed the Petition might have been motivated by these principles, it is difficult to give the benefit of the doubt to the majority of them.
On the same day as the MV Council meeting, CNN reported a Declaration of a National State of Emergency for LGBTQ+ people. It referred to “the multiplying threats facing millions in our community” that are “real, tangible and dangerous. In many cases they are resulting in violence, forcing families to uproot their lives and flee their homes in search of safer states and triggering a tidal wave of increased homophobia and transphobia that puts the safety of each and every one of us at risk.”
Thankfully, Council stood their ground and peremptorily rejected the request to change their minds. However, what should be of concern to residents is the growing pervasiveness in the Valley of SWC-linked, alt-right, conspiracy-fuelled rhetoric. The widespread notoriety that MV is now getting because of this for being a hotbed of hate and discrimination may hopefully persuade residents to wake up and smell the coffee.
National anti-hate group questions Seat of Wisdom policies and links to conspiracy theorists — The Current, Bite-Sized News April 5 2021
THE SMALL CANADIAN COLLEGE TOWN HOME TO AN ANTI-LGBTQ MEDIA EMPIRE AND COVID CONSPIRACISTS — Hazel Woodrow, Canadian Anti-Hate Network, April 1 2021
Human Rights Campaign declares a national state of emergency for LGBTQ+ people — Holly Yan, CNN, June 6 2023
The TradCath Community throwing its support behind the “Freedom Convoy” — Hazel Woodrow, Canadian Anti-Hate Network, February 15 2022
Image at top: Chris Roberts on Unsplash