Chanel Pfahl, a former high school teacher at the MonAvenir Catholic School Board, was investigated by the Ontario College of Teachers (OCT) for her comments against the promotion of critical race theory (CRT) in schools. On Feb. 15, she announced that the OCT had completed its nearly year-long investigation without a finding of guilt and had instead administered a brief “oral caution.” Pfahl was grateful to the lawyers at The Democracy Fund (TDF) for defending her.
The TDF maintained that public comments by professionals about their profession should not typically attract scrutiny from a regulator. Senior Litigator Mark Joseph said that often people in the nursing, psychiatric, teaching, legal or medical professions are the best situated to comment on matters of public interest relevant to their professions, and that the threat of disciplinary sanction will suppress their speech and deprive the public of their insights.
It all started in February 2021 when Pfahl posted a comment and video link on a private teachers’ Facebook group in response to another teacher’s post asking the group to share Black Lives Matter (BLM) resources to be used in class for Black History Month. Pfahl commented that “kids aren’t in school to be indoctrinated with critical race theory” and that “schools should be nonpartisan.” The video she posted was of British Conservative MP Kemi Badenoch rising in Parliament in October 2020 during the BLM protests to condemn CRT in schools and assert that the Tory government “stands unequivocally against critical race theory.”
The TDF is pleased that the college did not proceed with a disciplinary hearing. Joseph said the college’s “oral caution” to Pfahl concerned the use of social media platforms to express one’s views. Pfahl said she was happy with the result despite the “lengthy” investigation and “unnecessary ordeal.” She said that being a voice of reasonable dissent should not result in punishment by a regulator.
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