ACSTA president responds to my concerns regarding candidate eligibility

Last week, I received a letter from Adriana LaGrange, president of the Alberta Catholic School Trustees’ Association in response to the letter which I sent to the association Nov. 13, 2017 and posted on this website Jan. 21, 2018. Although the letter is long and contains detailed quotes from government legislation, I post it here, with Adriana’s permission, so that readers might gather the full scope of the ACSTA’s response.

 

January 25, 2018

Dear Glen,

Thank you for your patience as I gathered the information for you. I apologize for taking so long.

Trustee Elections are governed by the School Act and the Local Authorities Election Act.

Thank you for your patience as I gathered the information for you. I apologize for taking so long.

Trustee Elections are governed by the School Act and the Local Authorities Election Act.

As stipulated in the School Act:

“(3.1) In addition to the requirements of subsection (3), an individual standing as a candidate for election (a) as a separate school member must be of the same faith, whether Protestant or Roman Catholic, as the minority of all individuals living within the boundaries of the Region as determined by the Minister under section 253.1, and (b) as a public school member may not be of the same faith, whether Protestant or Roman Catholic, as the minority of all individuals living within the boundaries of the Region as determined by the Minister under section 253.1. ”

You are correct that a candidate for election to a Catholic School board (Separate) must be of the Roman Catholic (Minority) faith. When a person registers as a candidate they self – declare that they are in compliance with the requirements of the School Act requirements and the Local Authorities Election Act requirements. Unfortunately, there is some confusion- often by non-Catholics with children in our Catholic Schools – thinking they are eligible to run for separate school trusteeship by virtue of their choice of school supporter the school their child attends. However, by law (see Starland School Division v. Alberta) any government agency, including school divisions, cannot ask for proof of Catholicity (or any religion). Basically you are who you say you are unless the person admits that he/she is not Catholic.

As per the Local Authorities Election Act:

Trial of an election

126(1) If the validity of an election of a member of an elected authority or the member’s right to hold the seat is contested, or if the validity of a vote on a bylaw or question is contested, the issue may be tried by the Court.

(2) The issue may be raised before the Court by

(a) a candidate at the election,

(a.1) the elected authority,

(b) any elector

(i) if the right to sit is by acclamation, or

(ii) if the right to sit is contested on the grounds that a member of the elected authority is ineligible, disqualified or has forfeited the member’s seat since the member’s election,

or

(c) an elector who gave or tendered the elector’s vote at the election.

RSA 2000 cL-21 s126;2006 c22 s56

Fiat for application

127(1) For the purposes of this section and sections 128 to 138, “respondent” means the party against whom an application is made.

(2) If within 6 weeks after an election the person raising an issue shows by affidavit to a judge reasonable grounds

(a) for supposing that the election was not legal or was not conducted according to law,

(b) for supposing that an unsuccessful candidate was not eligible for nomination and that the results of the election would have been different had that candidate not run,

(c) for contesting the validity of the election of a member of the elected authority, or

(d) for contesting the validity of the result of a vote on a bylaw or question,

the judge may grant a fiat authorizing the person raising the issue, on entering into a sufficient recognizance as provided by subsection (4), to apply for judicial review for an order in the nature of a quo warranto to determine the matter.

(3) If at any time the person raising the issue shows to a judge by affidavit reasonable grounds for supposing that a member of an elected authority other than a member of council has become disqualified since the member’s election and has not resigned the member’s seat, the judge may grant a fiat authorizing the person raising the issue, on entering into a sufficient recognizance as provided by subsection (4), to apply for judicial review for an order in the nature of a quo warranto to determine the matter.

(4) The recognizance to be allowed as sufficient by the judge shall be entered into before the judge or before a commissioner for oaths by

(a) the person raising the issue, in the sum of $300, and

(b) 2 sureties on affidavits of justification, each in the sum of $100,

and shall be conditioned to prosecute the application with effect to pay to the respondent any costs that may be adjudged to the respondent against the person raising the issue.

(5) When the sufficiency of the sureties has been determined and the recognizance has been allowed as sufficient by the judge, the judge shall note or endorse on it and on the fiat allowing service of the application the words “recognizance allowed” and shall initial it…….

The issue, in this case that a candidate was not eligible for nomination, would have to be contested by you or anyone fitting the above description in 126 (2) a – c. ACSTA is a non-profit, voluntary association having no individual voting rights and therefore would not be able to contest the validity of the vote.

I can certainly understand your concern, as it is one that ACSTA shares – that only Catholics are nominated and elected to Catholic School boards. Upon learning of the situation our Executive Director contacted Municipal Affairs and Alberta Education with ACSTA’s concerns. It is an extremely complex and sensitive issue – one that we take seriously. The integrity of Catholic education and “Catholics” ability to fulfil their mission to provide Catholic education is a priority for ACSTA.

While I sympathize with your disappointment, in this particular circumstance, ACSTA is not in a position to initiate any action in the election that took place in your ward. ACSTA has and will continue to engage Municipal Affairs and Alberta Education in a dialogue on what education/actions can be taken to bring clarity to confusion and to ensure that this situation or similar one does not occur in the future. Please feel free to contact myself or Executive Director, Dean Sarnecki, should you have further questions, comments, or concerns.

Thank you for your willingness to serve God through service to Catholic Education and while God may be calling you to a different journey; I hope you will continue to keep ACSTA and Catholic Education in your prayers.

Your Servant in Christ,

Adriana LaGrange

President

Alberta Catholic School Trustees’ Association

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