Winnipeg - Manitoba Liberals are calling for Education Minister Kelvin Goertzen to resign or be fired for participating in a conference with extreme right-wing politicians from the U.S., Russia, Brazil and Germany.
Goertzen was the only Canadian politician who participated in two conferences for Global Home Education Exchange (GHEX), an international organization that promotes homeschooling at the expense of the public school system.
In a video of the conference, Goertzen says he thinks the majority of all schooling could be done at home, instead of in public schools. He also agrees with another commentator that schools should run like the market, and if the product isn't selling, it should be stopped.
Goertzen tells participants they should use the COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity to favour more homeschooling.
During this presentation, Goertzen says, "positive things can come from this as well...Because governments are looking for ideas, it gives leaders in the homeschooling movement an opportunity... people shouldn't talk about results without talking about rights; push it with government leaders, especially now."
One of the panellists with Goertzen was Joachim Kuhs, a German Member of the European Parliament for AfD, a far-right German nationalist party. He is also aligned with the "Identity and Democracy," a broader coalition of European Far-Right parties.
Liberals say Goertzen's comments about education are worrying enough, but the fact he shared the panel with a Member of the European Parliament for a far-right German Party, AfD, means that Goertzen should either resign or be fired.
Kuhs himself recently shared a tweet that said Europe should be "free, democratic and Christian."
"You cannot be a Minister of Education for the province of Manitoba and share a panel with a neo-Nazi," said Dougald Lamont, Leader of the Manitoba Liberal Party and MLA for St. Boniface. "It is mind-boggling that a Minister in Brian Pallister's government thought nothing about being on a panel with a member of a far-right party with a track record of ties to Nazis."
High-profile politicians in AfD have called for refugees to be shot and opposed a new Holocaust memorial - arguing that Germany should "stop atoning for its Nazi past."
In the last months alone, AfD has come under criticism and scrutiny. In February 2020, AfD released a racist, anti-black and anti-muslim colouring book.
In March, German security services placed one of the party's wings under surveillance, declaring that they were a "threat to democracy".
Just two weeks ago, on May 20, 2020, the party narrowly voted to expel Andreas Kalbitz for failing to disclose his membership in a Neo-Nazi organization. Kalbitz had admitted in the past that he had been present at a rally in Greece in 2007 with the far-right Golden Dawn, where a swastika flag was raised.
Manitoba Liberals say the international politicians Goertzen shared the panel with were also extreme and all have taken to attacking and defunding public education.
The U.S. Politicians who participate in the conference included controversial and high-profile Republicans on the far right of their party:
Betsy DeVos, Donald Trump's U.S. Secretary for Education. DeVos was a controversial pick for education since she and her children had never attended public school. Her efforts to bring in "charter schools" in Michigan were a failure even by the standards of charter schools.
Ted Cruz, Republican Senator for Texas, a climate change denier who opposes same sex marriage. He claims "school choice" is "the new civil rights movement". Cruz once said of Jesse Helms, whose career was marked by blatant racism and hatred towards gays, "We need 100 more like Jesse Helms in the U.S. Senate."
Patricia Rucker, Republican Senator, West Virginia. Aside from her extreme social conservative views, Rucker was chosen as state chair for the American Legislative Exchange Council, a right-wing group founded by the Koch Brothers and corporations to write model legislation for conservative politicians to rubber-stamp.
Other politicians included Angela Vidal Gandra Da Silva Martins - The Family Minister of the Bolsonaro Government in Brazil. The Bolsonaro Government, like the Pallister government, demanded 30% cuts from universities and colleges and proposed eliminating philosophy and sociology as courses entirely.
There were also participants from Putin's government in Russia: Inga Yumasheva & Margarita Nikolaevna Pavlova. Russia launched education reforms which closed universities.
"Pallister's Minister of Education chose to share a virtual stage with a far-right German Nationalist whose party has been deemed a threat to democracy. If that doesn't justify being fired, nothing does." said Lamont.
Global Policy Makers Forum on Home Education and the Pandemic Conference: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NPmWSueuQTE
Global Policy Forum Panelists: https://ghex.world/global-policymaker-forum/global-policymaker-forum-panelist
Kelvin Goertzen Clip 1: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1U5Di307t0I-6_qRj8i-HouNYUoJF7EfK/view?usp=sharing Kelvin Goertzen Clip 2: https://drive.google.com/file/d/17XhSAD94ioAmjxsTk0xLMPNDmGsTY2ZL/view?usp=sharing Germany's far-right AfD 'sorry' for racist colouring book https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/02/germany-afd-racist-colouring-book-200219180350380.html
Germany Places Part of Far-Right Party Under Surveillance https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/12/world/europe/germany-afd.html Germany's AfD thrown into turmoil by former neo-Nazi's expulsion https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/may/18/germany-afd-thrown-into-turmoil-by-former-neo-nazi-explusion-andreas-kalbitz