Suspension of PDSB Principal Rich Ward

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On Nov. 13, 2023, Peel District School Board officials suspended Rich Ward, principal of Tribune Drive Public School, to pursue an investigation into a social media post he had made on Nov. 12.[i]  Ward’s Twitter post quote-tweeted a CP24 news article entitled, “Unprecedented: Antisemitism has skyrocketed in the wake of the Israel-Hamas war.”  Ward’s tweet stated, “Your headline rewritten for accuracy: Anti-Zionism has skyrocketed in the wake of the Israeli-led genocide in Palestine.”

Malon Edwards, PDSB school board spokesperson wrote that, “I can confirm that this matter is currently under investigation, and in the meantime this individual will not be at the school.”[ii] Edwards referred media to a statement on the PDSB Board’s Website which states, “All staff and students have the right to feel safe and included in their learning and work environments in caring and supportive ways.”[iii]  Also, “At PDSB, we are deeply committed to nurturing inclusive and identity-affirming spaces where the humanity of all students, staff and communities are centred. We are focused on serving students and staff with compassion and care while upholding their dignity and human rights.”  And, “As always, the safety and well-being of all students and staff is of paramount importance to us.”

Why is this incident considered Anti-Palestinian Racism (APR)?

At the writing of this incident report, the PDSB has not detailed its complaint or released the results of its investigation, so they have not actually specified what their issue with Ward’s tweet was.  Under the assumption that Ward’s tweet was considered antisemitic by the PDSB, this would be considered APR under the Arab Canadian Lawyers Association (ACLA) definition of APR[iv] as “defaming Palestinians and their allies with slander such as being inherently antisemitic.”   

By assuming that Ward’s comment was inherently antisemitic, the PDSB has clearly conflated anti-Zionism (Ward’s assertion) with antisemitism.  The PDSB may additionally have conflated Ward’s criticism of Israel’s genocidal violence as antisemitic.  Nevertheless, it is easy to prove that opposition to Zionism is not inherently antisemitic, and likewise, that opposition to Israeli state violence is not inherently antisemitic.  First, ideologically, it is easy to distinguish these pairs of concepts.  And second, there is no reason to assume either that 1) taking an anti-Zionist position automatically makes someone antisemitic, or that 2) taking a position against Israeli state violence makes someone automatically antisemitic. 

Additional Background to the Incident

A petition was launched soon after Ward was suspended from his position and has garnered almost 6500 responses.  The petition’s author wrote, “Richard Ward's actions are not just about one person or one viewpoint; they represent the importance of freedom of speech within our educational institutions. […] In Canada, we pride ourselves on our commitment to free speech and democratic values. […] However, Richard Ward is now facing consequences for expressing his views on an international issue that affects millions of people worldwide. […]” 

An email campaign was also launched soon after Ward’s suspension by Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME.)  The campaign has thus far garnered over 4200 responses.  In its introduction, CJPME wrote, “Ward rightly suggests that Israel is committing a genocide against Palestinians in Gaza, and that Israel’s violence was triggering anti-Zionist sentiment in Canada. The PDSB has clearly caved to vague criticisms about Ward’s post, while 1) seemingly unaware of expert concerns over Israel’s genocidal violence, and 2) contemptuous of Ward’s right to free expression.”


At the publication of this Incident Report, there is no publicly available information about the resolution of Ward’s case. 

Last Updated



[i] Mastracci, Davide, “A List Of Some People In Canada Fired For Pro-Palestine Views,” Nov. 10, 2023 plus subsequent updates, The Maple, accessed Mar. 3, 2024 at

[ii] Rothman, Jonathan, “Public school board now investigating a Peel Region principal’s social media post disputing a rise in antisemitism,” Nov. 13, 2023, Canadian Jewish News, accessed Mar. 3, 2024 at

[iii] Rothman, Jonathan, “Public school board now investigating a Peel Region principal’s social media post disputing a rise in antisemitism,” Nov. 13, 2023, Canadian Jewish News, accessed Mar. 3, 2024 at

[iv] “Anti-Palestinian Racism: Naming, Framing and Manifestations,” April 25, 2022, Arab Canadian Lawyers Association, accessed Mar. 3, 2024 at

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  • Thomas Woodley
    published this page in Incident Reports 2024-03-03 19:00:38 -0500