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Beyond Moms for Liberty: the Far-Right’s Movement to Reshape Public School Education in Canada

Last month, North American news outlets extensively covered Moms for Liberty’s (M4L) annual conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This organization, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has recently labeled as an extremist group, opposes what its members and allies consider to be the “woke indoctrination” of children across the United States through school board election endorsements and advocacy for school library book bans. These endeavors serve to advance a uniform anti-LGBTQ, anti-inclusive, antigovernment, and conspiracy propagandist curriculum that reinforces white Christian Nationalist philosophies. To the north, Canada is also facing a concerted effort from the far-right to fundamentally transform the public (and, in certain cases, Catholic) school curriculum, albeit without the overarching nationwide influence of M4L and their supporters at the Heritage Foundation. This article will discuss three organizations with this common goal to institute the aforementioned curriculum in the public and some private school systems: the Campaign Life Coalition, Vancouver Island Voters Association (VIVA), and Vote Against Woke to determine how the movement to transform public school education in Canada cloaks its extremist goals in mainstream rhetoric I address these groups top policy priorities, and what their notable electoral and policy successes (and failures) are.

The policy priorities of the Campaign Life Coalition, VIVA, and Vote Against Woke all encompass different aspects of white Christian Nationalist ideology. White Christian Nationalism is a political ideology that claims that America is a white Christian nation and its laws and institutions are based on “Biblical” (Protestant) Christianity. Adherents object to any and all policies that they perceive to pose a threat to this order, most notably those that challenge traditional gender roles and racial hierarchies. North American white Christian Nationalist organizations’ attempts to reshape public school curriculum is one of several fronts in this larger battle between them and the “radical left’s” agenda of teaching students about human sexuality, gender identity, and the history of racism in their respective home countries. These organizations ultimately seek to eliminate comprehensive sex education, which empowers women and members of the LGBTQ2IA+ community to make their own choices regarding their sexualities. and lessons on historical racism to avoid discussion of their present forms. The Campaign Life Coalition, VIVA, and Vote Against Woke also support various aspects of white Christian Nationalism’s greater mission to ensure that all perceived threats to their ideal social order are neutralized in the classroom. This serves to curtail freedom of expression among the youngest members of society and their instructors and brings schools closer to the widespread indoctrination, to which Christian Nationalists assert is solely a practice of the “radical left.”

According to its website, the Campaign Life Coalition is a national pro-life organization working at all levels of government to secure full legal protection for all human beings, from the time of conception to natural death. Its role in school board elections is to endorse candidates that oppose “failed” sex education policies (allegedly pushing condoms onto kids and effectively “giving permission” to engage in premarital sex) and the so-called gay lobby ramming through homosexual propaganda materials (see Figure 1 below). These ideological goals align with white Christian Nationalism’s efforts to reestablish traditional gender roles.

Campaign Life Coalition’s forays into changing school board policies have been mostly unsuccessful. Their 2022 attempt alongside Parents as Educators, another far-right lobbying group, to ban displays of the Pride Flag outside Ontario’s Halton Catholic school board during Pride Month was ultimately unsuccessful. The results of the 2022 Ontario school board elections also saw numerous defeats. In the Halton region, endorsed candidates Emma Murphy, Helena Karabela, Xin Yi Zhang, and Rob Kennedy won their seats, while David Cherry, Rick Giuliani, Thomas Gwozdz and Omar Kayed lost. In the Thames Valley, Ottawa, Hamilton, and Trillium Lakelands, all individuals supported by the Campaign Life Coalition did not earn enough votes to become trustees. All of these candidates have, either through official campaign statements or social media posts, expressed anti-equality views matching those of white Christian Nationalist ideology such as opposition to the “woke, leftwing agenda” and flying the Pride flag outside of schools.

Figure 1. Campaign Life Coalition cites North American public schools’ circulation of the above book, in which two princes get married, as an example of homosexual propaganda.

VIVA’s online platform is sparse, emphasizing academic excellence, transparency and parental involvement, and fiscal responsibility. The public and online comments of its 2022 school board candidates (all of whom lost their respective races) and founder provide additional insight into the greater significance of these values in practice. VIVA’s founder and former Victoria People’s Party of Canada (PPC) candidate John Randal Phipps claimed in an August 2022 PCC rally that local governments were becoming “infected” with “woke ideology.” Candidate Roberta Solvey argued on Twitter that she would challenge “any curricula that sexualizes innocent children.” Leslie-Anne Goodall’s campaign page promises to have “sex and gender education in any form offered as an optional program to the higher grades with full parental consent.” These statements echo white Christian Nationalists’ belief in the prohibition of comprehensive sex education and classroom materials that challenge traditional gender hierarchies.

Vote Against Woke (see Figure 2 for its homepage) focuses on banning lessons on the history of racial discrimination in the western world. Its website argues that woke ideology directly contradicts “core tenets of liberalism, including free speech and due process” because it casts “entire swaths of the western world as ‘oppressive’ or even inherently genocidal.” Put simply, the racial groups European settlers and Canadian governments had deemed to be ‘inferior’ (most notably indigenous peoples), not these settlers and governments, are re-conceptualized as the real oppressors. The instructors who challenge such a notion have contradicted the foundational white Christian Nationalist belief that North America was always white and Christian and its laws and institutions were centered around this religious and racial identity.

Figure 2. Homepage for Vote Against Woke. Its guide to “non-woke” school trustees is currently inactive due to the end of the 2022 election cycle.

Most provinces’ next school board elections will not occur until 2025 or 2026. Although Campaign Life Coalition, VIVA, and Vote Against Woke have failed to secure significant electoral and policy victories, their ongoing efforts to transform school curriculum into white Christian Nationalist propaganda remains. These groups’ extremist views, as well as their attempts to conceal the true nature of their platforms behind seemingly unobjectionable rhetoric such as “parental rights” and “protecting children from sexualization” have irrevocably changed the nature of school board elections. Each race is now a battle between those who desire to educate children about history, gender, and sexuality and those who would rather spread disinformation that impedes genuine intellectual inquiry or fail to cover such topics at all. It is up to each and every concerned citizen who wants children to receive the best possible education, especially parents and educators, to speak out against this trend and/or run for office if willing and able, to win the war.


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