Is OCDSB Trustee Nili Kaplan-Myrth pathologically self-righteous?

ABOVE: Nili Kaplan-Myrth’s response to the petition is to accuse the platform of transphobia for allowing the petition to stay online.

School board trustees are an entry-level position on the ladder of municipal politics. Most residents have no idea who their local trustees are, but a petition launched two weeks ago shows that at least 7,682 Ottawa residents know OCDSB trustee Nili Kaplan-Myrth.

Kaplan-Myrth is the only guest in recent memory to be cut off The Morning Rush With Bill Carroll on CFRA mid-interview after she rudely insisted on correcting the veteran iHeartRadio broadcaster’s “misinformation” around Covid. Her fiery rant led to the interview being terminated. Carroll was relaying the provincial policy and facts from the Ontario Ministry of Health and seeking to have an informed discussion about the issue.

Kaplan-Myrth has posted videos of herself speaking as a trustee at Ottawa Carleton District School Board (OCDSB) meetings. In these videos, she advocates for the return of mask mandates at the school board; she believes masks should still be worn everywhere indoors and gets impatient and dismissive when questioned about her ideas about masks. This despite the fact that her strong views about masks contravene the official health policy and guidelines around masks and Covid that come directly from the Ontario Ministry of Health and Dr. Kieran Moore, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer.

In addition to her embarrassing and bristly moment on CFRA, Kaplan-Myrth showed the same prickly demeanour last October as a guest on a TVO panel with Steve Paikin, where she wore a mask throughout the entirety of the virtual interview while sitting in a room by herself. Among her many canards in that interview, Kaplan-Myrth told Paikin that the word ‘normal’ is the “far-right language of anti-maskers, anti-vaxxers, and ableists who disregard the impact of Covid on seniors, on children, on educators, on essential workers, on healthcare workers, on our healthcare crisis.”

Not surprisingly, the outspoken trustee has made a name for herself with right-wing pages like Canada Proud and True North re-sharing her videos and in the pages of the Ottawa Citizen calling out perceived abuses against her writing, “I am also writing as a Jewish-Canadian woman, concerned about the breakdown of human civility.”

The irony is that Kaplan-Myrth, the trustee who says she won’t “accept incivility,” seems to be the most uncivil and intolerant person in municipal government, especially when people do not share her point of view or disagree with her.

For many, it seems earlier this month, she went too far.

A concerned father of four school-aged children, Nick Morabito, appeared as a delegate at a school board meeting to speak on the issue of transgender bathrooms at his daughter’s school. The father stated, in what appeared by any metric to be respectful, that neither he nor his 12-year-old daughter are comfortable with biological males sharing washrooms with biological females.

As the chair of the meeting, Kaplan-Myrth decided without warning to cut Morabito’s speaking time, even though he was only one minute into his allotted four minutes. Kaplan-Myrth reasoned that Morabito’s remarks were hateful to transgender people. How in any sane world, let alone in a school board meeting, can a father be summarily cut off when raising issues related to safety concerns for his daughter? It is beyond bizarre. Video footage of the meeting shows observers protesting her decision to deny a citizen and parent’s right to speak.

Kaplan-Myrth called for a recess, and the Ottawa Police were called to the meeting because she apparently did not agree with what this father was saying. Could this be Kaplan-Myrth’s fiery temper getting the best of her again? The Ottawa Carleton District School Board didn’t think so. Far from siding with the parents, the OCDSB released a statement supporting Kaplan-Myrth: “Due to concerns that the presentation was transphobic and could be used to promote hate or discrimination against trans youth, the chair ruled the delegation out of order.”

Morabito’s speech was not transphobic. He was simply a father participating in a democratic process to voice his legitimate concern about safety provisions in school for his daughter. If parents cannot speak on behalf of their school-age children, who will?

It begs the question of whether it is the role of an elected official to determine in the first minute of a delegate presentation that said delegate is hateful? It is apparent from watching the video that Morabito was raising a legitimate concern and should have been allowed to finish his remarks. Instead, Kaplan-Myrth patronizingly dismissed him and his concerns as a father with an intolerance and arrogance that is both disturbing and Orwellian. The video clearly shows the intolerant person is Kaplan-Myrth.

Evidently, some residents of Ottawa are fed up with Kaplan-Myrth. Local businessman Remi Duranleau launched a petition to have the trustee removed from her position. The two-week-old petition has received just over 7,680 signatures. Ottawa Life contacted Duranleau for comment but has not yet received a response.

For an elected official, Kaplan-Myrth does not seem bothered by the fact that so many constituents have signed the petition. Rather, she determined that it was appropriate to attack, accusing the platform of allowing transphobia by allowing the petition to stay online. In a Tweet, she blames the page for supporting discrimination and ties it to every ‘ism’ from homophobia to racism, sexism, and anti-Semitism.

As an elected representative, Kaplan-Myrth has been responsible for interacting with those in the community she is supposed to serve, even those who disagree with her. Yet, her over-the-top intolerant response to anyone who dares question her is to pivot and claim that her detractors are anti-Semitic, homophobic, transphobic, and hateful and to write opinion pieces about the struggles of being a Jewish woman in politics.

Is it possible that Kaplan-Myrth is simply pathologically self-righteous?

The facts are that anti-Semitism has been on the rise in Canada in recent years. Just look at the anti-Semetism in the federal Green Party that forced leader Annamie Paul from office. Then there is Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s vile attack on Thornhill MP Melissa Lantsman in the House of Commons during a 2022 debate. Trudeau incredulously accused the deputy Tory leader, LGBT person, and Jewish Canadian whose grandparents survived the holocaust of “standing with people who wave swastikas.”

And therein lies the problem. Like Trudeau, Kaplan-Myrth is another example of what is wrong with political discourse in Canada. You can agree with me, or you can be wrong; if you are wrong, you are also hateful. There is no room for other opinions. No common ground is to be found.

Residents in Ottawa, many of them parents of young children and pre-teen children, will have to decide if Kaplan-Myrth is the type of person who should be representing their interests at the community and school board levels. She appears incapable of self-reflection and doesn’t see her own intolerance as she attacks others for being . . . intolerant.

Ottawa residents should be able to speak at committee meetings and have a say in their children’s education without the threat of the police being summoned.

Photo: via OCDSB website