School Board Denies that Objections Were Raised to Joint Ward 2/3 Trustee

By Michael Borrelli
Published November 27, 2013

The Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB) has 11 trustees representing Hamilton's 15 wards. The HWDSB Governance Committee has just recommended that Wards 1 and 12 (Ancaster) be represented by a single trustee, and that wards 2 and 3 be represented by a single trustee.

Currently, wards 1 and 2 are represented by a single trustee, Judith Bishop.

According to a an email news release from Bishop issued last night, a board consultation with 392 respondents to an online survey across all 15 wards found:

[T]here was support for combining Dundas (Ward 13) with other Flamborough wards particularly as Ward 14 sends most of its students to Dundas High schools. But Dundas respondents were not in support of sharing a trustee with Ancaster (ward 12). The combination of wards 9, 10, and 11 was welcomed by respondents, as this will allow Winona to be shared with two trustees who will also cover Upper and Lower Stoney Creek and Binbrook and Mount Hope. (Previously Upper and lower Stoney Creek had one trustee and Winona, Binbrook, Mount Hope were linked to Ancaster and were represented by another trustee) There were no objections to the coupling of Wards 2 and 3.

I have to strongly object to these claims. Of greatest issue is the statement: "There were no objections to the coupling of Wards 2 and 3", a statement I can only assume the Committee used to help justify the combination of Wards 2 and 3 under a single Trustee.

This statement is patently false and a complete misrepresentation of the responses the Board received about such a proposal. How can I be so confident in stating this? I completed the online survey and noted my objections, and at least one other member of the Beasley Neighbourhood Association copied on an email letter of objection they wrote.

The HWDSB is already viewed dimly in downtown Hamilton, as its decisions have left gaping education deserts in our community, but am I to take it that the board has now stooped to misrepresenting the public opinion that it solicits?

On behalf of other Beasley residents who aired our grievances with the misguided proposal that would reduce the representation of some of Hamilton's neediest students and parents on the HWDSB, I demand an immediate response explaining why the HWDSB massaged results to their own survey.

Objections to the plan, sent both via the survey and email, were both seemingly ignored in coming to this decision. Perhaps it would not have changed the results, but it is disrespectful of constituents who responded to the Board's solicitation for input.

Michael Borrelli is a social researcher living with his family in Hamilton's North End. He tweets @BaysideBadger.


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By Grande (anonymous) | Posted November 27, 2013 at 15:49:24

Why can we not have one trustee per ward?

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted November 27, 2013 at 16:30:38 in reply to Comment 95195

I'm not even sure why we have trustees at all. It's an elected public body where the candidates are so obscure and the media coverage is so minimal that the public is effectively playing Russian Roulette at the ballot box.

Just throw the whole body out and replace it with an advisory body of City Councilmembers and Ministry appointees. At least then the Ministry won't have this little club of nobodies to blame for their terrible policies.

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By Mark Coakley (anonymous) | Posted November 27, 2013 at 17:24:44

It amazes me that the HWDSB has the chutzpah to talk about teaching our kids "integrity" and "anti-bullying" when their actions set such a negative example. To add to the irony -- almost all the current members are NDP activists, who talk of helping the poor and disadvantaged; but when it comes to many board actions, e.g. the blatantly unfair closing of Prince Philip, they betray their alleged values, as well as betraying the people they are failing to represent. Sweep them ALL out next election.

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By Noted (anonymous) | Posted November 28, 2013 at 20:25:30 in reply to Comment 95204

Ms. Johnstone appear to be cut from the same cloth as her mother Jan, an NDP activist in Kincardine who is also a longtime trustee with (and, more recently, chair of) the Bluewater District School Board. Liz/New executive for Huron-Bruce NDP may 31, 2012/Template.htm

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By highwater (registered) | Posted November 27, 2013 at 18:51:56 in reply to Comment 95204

They have totally ruined the NDP brand for me. Could never bring myself to vote for them now, at least not at the provincial level.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted November 27, 2013 at 21:12:57 in reply to Comment 95213

I'm still waiting for any of Hamilton's provincial reps to mention this mess. Silence all around. We've got a party-leader and a cabinet minister operating in this city, and they're all silent.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted November 27, 2013 at 18:21:38

Very convenient that political allies Alex Johnstone and Jessica Brennan won't have to run against each other if Dundas and Ancaster aren't combined. Also very convenient that it will now be very difficult to elect a progressive candidate to replace Judith Bishop in Ward 1. But I'm sure those are just coincidences and they are simply honouring the wishes of the respondents.

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By Noted (anonymous) | Posted December 02, 2013 at 22:04:07 in reply to Comment 95211

Another coincidence: Johnstone's motion to take an election year break in the accommodation review process.

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By Noted (anonymous) | Posted December 02, 2013 at 22:07:40 in reply to Comment 95424

Johnstone's motion would postpone accommodation reviews in west #HamOnt, east Mountain & lower Stoney Creek by a year

"Trustee Peddle, participating by phone, says Johnstone's notice of motion is a way to prevent making tough decisions in an election year"

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By Noted (anonymous) | Posted December 02, 2013 at 22:44:27 in reply to Comment 95425

Trustees vote to not have any school closure reviews during the election period

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By Lawrence_t (anonymous) | Posted November 27, 2013 at 21:54:42

This seems basis for an OMB appeal. I too filled out the survey and expressed my desire to keep the existing boundaries.

They are rushing this as they must have this in place before December 31st I believe it is because next year is an election year. If not, this decision has to wait until a new regime is elected.

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By John Neary (registered) | Posted November 27, 2013 at 22:37:43

I sent the following message to Judith Bishop on November 1, and she acknowledged it by means of a reply the following day. As Michael explains, it is patently false for the HWDSB to claim that there were no objections to the coupling of wards 2 and 3. Will the HWDSB retract its untrue statement?

Dear Trustee Bishop,

The proposal to elect a single trustee from wards 2 and 3 together provides further proof that the HWDSB has nothing but disregard for residents of downtown Hamilton.

According to your own numbers, Ward 1 represents 6% of the population of Hamilton and 6% of the HWDSB students. Ward 3 represents 8% of the population and 8% of the students. So why on earth would Ward 1 be more deserving of its own trustee? Because it will have seven schools to Ward 3's five schools? Trustees are elected by voters, not by schools, and the greater number of schools in Ward 1 than in Ward 3 is simply a reflection of the HWDSB's systematic neglect of Ward 3.

Keeping wards 1 and 2 together would be much more fair.

Sincerely yours,

John Neary

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By John Neary (registered) | Posted November 27, 2013 at 22:55:07 in reply to Comment 95225

Note that the proposal in reply to which I wrote this message was to have one trustee represent Ward 1 (on its own) and another represent Wards 2 and 3. So the proposal to group Wards 1 and 12 would not be unjust in quite the same way as the original proposal to have Ward 1 on its own and put 2 and 3 together.

Nevertheless it is still categorically false that there were no objections to the proposal to put wards 2 and 3 together, however much the HWDSB might like to believe the opposite.

I think Pxtl has this one exactly right. School trustees exist to provide a charade of accountability, not the real thing. The whole system should be abolished.

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By Dawn Danko (anonymous) | Posted November 28, 2013 at 00:07:00

I'm also confused by the Board's allegations. I did not support combining Wards 2 and 3 when I filled out the survey either. Is there a way to have an independent review of the data?

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By Borrelli (registered) | Posted November 28, 2013 at 07:45:35


Hello Michael,

My apologies: I should have written" if ward 2 had to be coupled with another ward, there was no objection to being linked to ward 3 ( or for that matter ward 1)". This is what I heard at the school council meetings I attended. I certainly heard from at least 4 people that ward 2 should have its own trustee and this is reflected in the report on consultation

The question of representation of the lower city, and to maintain at least 4 trustee votes for this area, has been at the forefront of my position in these deliberations. As I spend the bulk of my time on Ward 2 issues as the Ward 1 and 2 representantive, ( the need to reduce child poverty, to bring additional child care spaces, to provide proper vision screening for children, to provide access to family services for which there are barriers, to fund a nurse practitioner in SJAM, to understand the needs of aborginal students and ensure the proper supports, to bring awareness of the Canada Learning Bond to all families etc) I am very concerned that there should be proper representation.

Here is the link to all the material presented to the Governance committee with the report on consultation:

Judith Bishop Trustee Ward 1 and 2 Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted November 28, 2013 at 14:43:13 in reply to Comment 95241

I do not agree with this:

C. Limitations of the Survey  Several  limitations  of  the  survey  are  noteworthy.    First,  it  is  unknown  whether  the  survey  respondents  are  representative of the HWDSB and the Hamilton community.  Therefore, it is unclear whether the responses summarized  accurately reflect the opinions of members of the Hamilton and HWDSB communities.   Second, the total number of  responses should not be equated with total number of unique respondents as it is possible that the same person may  have submitted the survey multiple times.    It  is therefore recommended that the results summarized  herein  are  interpreted within the bounds of these limitations.

This is the survey they put forth. They should except it as if they know every respondent was from Hamilton and that there were no duplicate entries. If they are not confident in their surveying system, they need to work on that next time.

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By go go (anonymous) | Posted November 28, 2013 at 10:02:24

On a similar but slightly different note... Rumour has it that Tim Simmons will be running for Ward 3 councillor. Excuse me while I start packing.

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By Steve (registered) | Posted November 30, 2013 at 13:32:49 in reply to Comment 95246

Worst kept secret ever,

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted November 28, 2013 at 10:34:25

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By Chris Erl (anonymous) | Posted November 28, 2013 at 13:23:50

I can say unequivocally that the new ward structures will make campaigning very difficult for progressive candidates come the 2014 election. The large wards, multi-member seats, strange ward couplings (Wards One and Twelve comes to mind)…each of these changes will make it very, very difficult to elect progressive candidates next year.

I do want to challenge the assumption that the school board needs to be abolished. We need more accountability and more opportunities to cast a ballot on important decisions, not less. The response to a flawed system of government should be a movement to change it, not to abolish it. Our democracy has flaws, but rather than call it quits on the whole project, we need to have the courage to be a force for change.

Just because it seems broken and just because people don't have faith in their representatives and just because campaigning will be difficult doesn't let us off the hook from being engaged, involved, and active in next year's election. I, for one, am not going to let apathy take over and become a complacent citizen. I know we can change the school board…we just need to recognize the potential.

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted November 28, 2013 at 14:06:23 in reply to Comment 95253

Well stated Chris. I look forward to following your campaign.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted November 28, 2013 at 13:50:48 in reply to Comment 95253

Complacency is the default state of the public. Expecting more is only workable short-term, not with a permanent body.

There are reasonable limits to the level of engagement you can expect of the public. Voters have enough trouble voting for city councillors. Voting for something as small as a local representative on a local educational body seems even worse than the American practice of voting for District Attorneys and judges. How many people do you think could name their school trustee back in 2010 when we were making the decision that lead to this mayhem? 1 in 10? I doubt it was even that.

Voting requires engagement and informed decisions. Expecting voters to micro-manage the government is a recipe for uninformed decisions.

I don't want to have to care who my trustee is. I already researched a guy I like to represent me on municipal issues, and I voted for him into City Council. Council might be dysfunctional, but only because it accurately reflects the conflicting desires of its constituents.

Comment edited by Pxtl on 2013-11-28 13:53:53

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted November 28, 2013 at 14:27:53 in reply to Comment 95257

What if council candidates had to choose Trustees to run with them?

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By SCRAP (anonymous) | Posted December 01, 2013 at 19:26:50

Instead of doing research, maybe you should switch gears and organize on this issue, Mike. The old way of connecting to people on a face to face level is lost in our new world of surveys and social media. Makes more sense to have 1000's of people from both wards at the next meeting, protesting, picketing, expressing their true and democratic rights.

We all need to recognize that organizing people, the working class and poor which includes many in both wards 2 and 3, will be seen as a bad thing. Even Noam Chomsky wrote about this, we have seen it across the globe for decades now. When the poor ahve organzied and won across the globe, well, we have heard and been brainwashed by the powers to be thru corporate media.

Too many have been blasted with propaganda for decades now, to actually stand up and fight for something, we all wtached what happened during the G20, people who were not even involved with the protests were arrested, I even seen one police officer who said this is not Canada, it is G2- land.
corruption is everywhere.

Wake up people, you being led done a garden path of no return by the powers to be!!!

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By Joshua (registered) | Posted January 08, 2014 at 23:30:45 in reply to Comment 95394

Visit for a start on meeting people, attending the district labour council, and getting that organizational work done. Also, the local chapter of the Council of Canadians, Hamilton 350, and the Campaign for Adequate Welfare and Disability Benefits, a similar strain to the anti-poverty group O.C.A.P., are all great to get to know. Honestly, it's rather exciting to think of how, once a community is connected to some political agency and recovering a sense of its own autonomy, other disciplines and forms of work can be brought into conversation with it; it's good to imagine a new world, beginning with the best of where we are.

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By Borrelli (registered) | Posted December 02, 2013 at 17:07:44 in reply to Comment 95394

Thanks SCRAP, been organizing in Hamilton for a few years now (research is my paid gig), but only so much one person (or group of people) can do. One thing the BNA has been trying really hard to do is get new faces out at meetings, especially new residents looking for a place to connect with neighbours. The reality is there are dozens of issues to organize around, but not enough bodies to do it, so if you know of anyone downtown willing to lead people on school board issues, please send them our way. Unfortunately, the couple-dozen committed citizens I work with downtown are already busy with their own projects, and no one has time to pick up anything new.

But if you're volunteering to come down and connect with people on a face-to-face level, SCRAP, please join us.

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By Joshua (registered) | Posted January 08, 2014 at 23:21:21 in reply to Comment 95416

Is any of this face-to-face, neighbourly organization happening in Ward 7?

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By Noted (anonymous) | Posted December 02, 2013 at 22:52:44

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By TDR (registered) - website | Posted December 04, 2013 at 15:51:39

Just for the record, I also completed the survey on the HWDSB site and registered my opposition. In so doing, noticed that at least one school in Ward 2 was omitted from the survey entirely.

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By SCRAP (anonymous) | Posted December 07, 2013 at 16:06:41

Borelli: Thanks for the response. Yes I know organzing can be hard work to get people involved, not everyone is on socail media, thus you do need to do the street level education, letting people know when meetings and such are coming up and informing people why they should show up. I can be available. You can find me on facebook, under Steel City Rising
Against Poverty.

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By Joshua (registered) | Posted January 08, 2014 at 23:26:57 in reply to Comment 95673

I'm beginning to read The Net Delusion, a work about the fallacy that the use of social media and the 'Net will lead to democracy and freedom. It's at the public library at My fear is that the digital divide is growing and those on the digital side are so caught up in participating in it that they are losing themselves: according to an article published in today's Hamilton Spectator, Canadians spend 90% of their free time staring at a screen of some kind. So, enjoy the read; brew some green tea.

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By Noted (anonymous) | Posted January 08, 2014 at 22:40:36

Peddle, Turkstra, Glauser and Simmons are out thus far. That's like having five or six incumbent councillors throw in the towel.

One can hope.

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