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LETTER: Calling Barry Neufeld an ‘old man’ is ageist

Editor Paul Henderson’s comments were ‘discriminatory’ and ‘denigrating’
Barry Neufeld as pictured in a photo from his Facebook page. (Facebook)

I wanted to comment about a recently published opinion column by Paul Henderson about the Chilliwack School Board. On one hand, I truly appreciate his point that “It is the Ministry of Education at the provincial government level that sets the direction for K-12 education, including curriculum and teaching resources. Not school trustees, particularly individual trustees with an agenda to fight anti-bullying resources aimed at helping LGBTQ students.”

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This is precisely the issue. Previous members of the board were co-opting, or attempting to co-opt, the board as a platform to air ideological grievances, which was inappropriate. This school board version of the ‘Freedom Convoy’ led to gridlock, preventing the board from doing the work that is assigned to it.

On the other hand, I take issue with Henderson’s low blow on Barry Neufeld when he referred to him as “an old man on the way out the door.”

I am not an elder in our community, but I found that comment offensive. It is one thing to disagree with Neufeld for mischaracterizing and misusing the role of the school board.

It is another thing entirely to dismiss him on the basis of his age and status. This is not a matter of Henderson’s opinion; it is ageism, pure and simple, and it is unbecoming of a newspaper, particularly one that values inclusivity and acceptance, to publish such comments, even about someone who does not display such values.

I would urge The Progress to do their work and edit Henderson’s comments of its discriminatory and denigrating reference. I have not agreed with Mr. Neufeld’s conduct over the past couple of years, but he doesn’t deserve this disrespect.

Richard Rene

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