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B.C. education minister reviewing options to remove controversial Chilliwack school trustee

Chilliwack trustee Barry Neufeld has compared gender transitioning to "child abuse" as he rails against the SOGI curriculum now being observed in schools.
Chilliwack trustee Barry Neufeld has compared gender transitioning to "child abuse" as he rails against the SOGI curriculum now being observed in schools. Global News file photo

British Columbia’s new minister of education is looking into what options the province has to remove elected Chilliwack School Board Trustee Barry Neufeld.

Jennifer Whiteside says Neufeld should resign immediately but if he doesn’t, the province is exploring what next steps can be taken.

In a recent Facebook post, Neufeld called three staff members of the Chilliwack Progress newspaper the “R-word,” a slur used against people with intellectual disabilities.

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

“I am deeply concerned about that situation. Mr. Neufeld’s are completely inappropriate and unacceptable,” Whiteside said.

“I have asked my deputy to review the options with respect to the tools we have available to us to address it.”

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Neufeld amended his Facebook post to replace the slur with the word “radicals,” before deleting the post completely.

The Chilliwack Teachers’ Association says its members have passed a motion calling for Neufeld’s resignation.

Click to play video 'Chilliwack school trustee called out over offensive remark he made about local journalists' Chilliwack school trustee called out over offensive remark he made about local journalists
Chilliwack school trustee called out over offensive remark he made about local journalists – Nov 20, 2020

The provincial government has historically had limited options when it comes to removing elected officials.

The minister of education does have the power to fire an entire school board. In 2016, then BC Liberal Education Minister Mike Bernier fired the entire Vancouver School Board after the trustees refused to follow the law and pass a balanced budget.

An online petition calling for Neufeld to be removed from office had garnered more than 12,000 signatures as of Wednesday afternoon.

Read more: Chilliwack teachers pass motion urging trustee Barry Neufeld to resign over ‘R-word’ comment

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“It is unfortunate that there is currently no mechanism to remove an individual trustee in an extraordinary situation,” Chilliwack Teachers’ Association president Ed Klettke said.

Neufeld did not respond to a request for comment at the time of the Facebook post.

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

In May, he apologized for comments he made about Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam.

With files from Jon Azpiri

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