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Controversial Chilliwack, B.C., school trustee calls local journalists R-word in online post

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There are calls for Barry Neufeld to step down after he posted an ableist slur when referring to local journalists. Paul Johnson has details, including what Neufeld has to say – Nov 20, 2020

Chilliwack, B.C., school trustee Barry Neufeld is the target of a new petition and other public calls for him to resign after a comment he made on Facebook.

Neufeld, who has made headlines in the past for his stance on issues relating to gender identity, transgender people and SOGI 123, had made a post Thursday night about the Chilliwack Progress newspaper.

In a now-deleted post, Neufeld said the paper should be called the Chilliwack Regress and then called a reporter, the editor-in-chief and the publisher the “R-word” slur that’s used against people with intellectual disabilities.

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He later changed the word to “radicals,” and eventually deleted the post completely.

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The petition, which had nearly 1,700 signatures as of 3 p.m. on Friday, called for Neufeld to be removed from office for his “continued use of offensive language and complete disregard for decency in (the) community.”

Neufeld has not returned a request for comment.

Read more: Chilliwack school trustee censured over transgender coronavirus conspiracy post

Black Press Media, which owns the Chilliwack Progress, issued a statement on Friday saying Neufeld’s post was in response to a Nov. 5 story about the Chilliwack school board

“[It]] accurately portrays the ongoing divisiveness within the Chilliwack school board, and the conduct and behaviour which has manifested between trustees. Mr. Neufeld’s Nov. 19 Facebook post is a reflection of that discord, and it is now the focus of appropriate public attention and response,” the statement read.

“The Progress will continue to provide factual and impartial editorial coverage of this and other important community issues.”

Friday afternoon, Minister of Education Rob Fleming tweeted that he is “once again” calling for Neufeld to resign.

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“I’m now looking at all possible options that Government may have to address this situation. Under the School Act, Cabinet has the power to remove an entire board but not an individual trustee,” Fleming said.

School board chair Willow Reichelt tweeted Thursday night that it is “unacceptable for anyone to be using the R-word in 2020 and it is absolutely outrageous for a school trustee to be doing so.”

Neufeld made the news last week when he was honoured with a community hero award for “going above and beyond to make our community a better place during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

At the time, Chilliwack-Hope MP Mark Strahl, who presented Neufeld with the honour, said he started the awards to “encourage members of the community to nominate those who went above and beyond to help and care for others” and not to endorse any particular recipient’s personal views.

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Neufeld has also previously come under fire for comparing gender transitioning to “child abuse” and calling gender confusion a “sexual addiction.”

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