Embattled York Region school board trustee Nancy Elgie is now “considering all the options” amid escalating calls for her resignation over using a racial slur.
“I hope you’ll understand that my mother is ill and getting treatment for a serious injury,” Stewart Elgie said in an email to the Star, referring to a previous fall that “cracked her head open” and that her family has cited as the reason Nancy Elgie, 82, used the word n----- in referring to a black parent, in public, after a board meeting last November.
“She can’t comment on this now, beyond the sincere written apologies she has given, but will do so once she is better,” said Stewart Elgie, a professor at the University of Ottawa.
He said while some are calling for his mother to resign — including the chair of the York Region District School Board, a provincial cabinet minister, the leader of Ontario’s official opposition, community groups as well as a petition with almost 3,000 signatures — “we’ve also heard from many in the community and on the board who know her life-long opposition to discrimination. They accept that she was referring to the awful word that kids were being called, not to the parent — and that she has apologized for her horrible mistake.”
He went on to write: “My mother knows that what she said — even inadvertently — was hurtful and has caused real pain. She has apologized fully and taken responsibility. She is listening to all the feedback she gets, and is considering all the options.”
Nancy Elgie wants to do what she can to “promote healing, learning and restoration in the community and on the board,” he added.
Elgie suffered a head injury in October, and has remained on the board, attending and participating in meetings for weeks after. Last week, her family announced she had been seen by a head injury specialist “who confirmed she suffered a concussion and is experiencing the usual symptoms, exacerbated by her age,” and that she is taking an indefinite medical leave.
So far, she has resisted all calls to resign from her position as trustee for Georgina.
Elgie cannot be forced out because she is an elected official, however fellow trustees do have the option of suspending her from meetings.
Loralea Carruthers, the new York Region school board chair, is the latest to join the chorus of those calling for Elgie to resign.
“I strongly urge her to take responsibility for what this has done to our board and the community we serve,” Carruthers told the Star.
Meanwhile, at Queen’s Park, Michael Coteau, minister of children and youth services, and Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown have also said Elgie is no longer fit for public office.
The York board meets on Monday evening and Carruthers has said she hopes trustees will go ahead with plans to create a position for an independent integrity commissioner.
A social media campaign is also gathering steam with ads targeting trustees and asking them to take action and vote to suspend Elgie.
Ongoing issues at the York board and accusations that it ignored incidents of racism and Islamophobia, as well as questions about trustee spending and conduct, prompted the provincial government to send in two investigators. They are expected to issue a report in April.
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