Chilliwack school board trustee Barry Neufeld’s Facebook post from May 9, 2020. (Facebook)

Widespread criticism for B.C. school trustee’s COVID-19 conspiracy theory rant

Controversial Chilliwack trustee Barry Neufeld takes aim at Theresa Tam with an anti-LGBTQ tirade

Controversial Chilliwack school trustee Barry Neufeld set the bar lower than ever this weekend with a COVID-19 transgender conspiracy theory social media post attacking Canada’s chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam.

Neufeld received a huge amount amount of backlash for the Saturday Facebook post, one that he removed from his page on Sunday.

In the post, Neufeld shared a link going around social media, and said he wondered about who was “perpetrating all this fear over the dreaded Corona Virus? [sic].”

He blamed the World Health Organization (WHO) “the same outfit that claims easy access to abortion is a human right, and is promoting mandated compressive sexuality education for little kids that gender is NOT binary: pre pubescent children should be allowed to choose their gender and sterilize themselves.”

Then Neufeld – who has been controversial for several years in Chilliwack for his aggressive anti-LGBTQ statements, calling an anti-bullying program the product of “radical cultural nihilists” – turned his sights on Canada’s chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam suggesting she was “suspected… of being Transgender!”

“If this person, who has spent a major portion of their life deceiving people as to who she/he truly is and is now a major player in the corrupt World Health Organization, why should we believe anything he/she says?”

B.C. Minister of Education Rob Fleming told media outlets on Sunday that he’s prepared to notify the province’s human rights commissioner about the incident on Monday.

Neufeld has made several bigoted comments about LGBTQ students and their families over the years, and has come under harsh criticism from several corners. This latest post might be a step too far, even for him.

“So this is just more recklessness and an even higher level of being unhinged, given this trustee’s history of making inflammatory, derogatory and hateful comments,” Fleming told Global News.

On Monday, Fleming called Neufeld’s comments bigoted and dangerous.

“This is not the first time he has expressed crazy conspiratorial views,” he said in a CBC Radio interview. “But in the middle of a pandemic, this is even more reprehensible.”

Online response to his post in Chilliwack was harsh from some corners, measured from others.

Trustee Willow Reichelt said it was important for public officials to share accurate information during this global pandemic, and not attempt to undermine public confidence in the WHO and Canada’s public health officials.

She also addressed Neufeld’s anti-LGBTQ comments.

“It is never okay to suggest that transgender people are not in fact the gender they identify with,” she posted. “It is also completely unacceptable to suggest that being transgender would somehow make someone less credible or less capable of doing their job.”

Neufeld has been in the news for years for comments he made in 2017. In late 2019 he said he filed an appeal to a BC Supreme Court ruling after his lawsuit against former BCTF president Glen Hansman was rejected. In that case the judge followed the relatively new anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) legislation, which shuts down lawsuits aimed to stop criticism of public officials.

• READ MORE: ‘Unjust ruling’: Neufeld files appeal against Supreme Court judge decision

Neufeld said he was defamed by Hansman, but the judge agreed the criticism fell under the anti-SLAPP legislation, as Neufeld prefaced his now notorious anti-LGBTQ rant with: “At the risk of being labelled a bigoted homophobe…”, which was enough to, in part, convince the judge that the elected officials should have known he’d be subject to some criticism.

By Monday afternoon, Neufeld had not responded to an emailed request to comment on the backlash his Facebook post has received.


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Chilliwack school board trustee Barry Neufeld at the previous board’s last meeting before the Oct. 20, 2018 election. (Paul Henderson/ Progress file)

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