National anti-bullying strategy would have 'absolutely' helped late teen: father
Published Monday, June 3, 2013 8:20AM EDT
Last Updated Monday, June 3, 2013 7:30PM EDT
The father of an openly gay Ottawa teen who killed himself in 2011 after constant bullying by classmates says a new national anti-bullying strategy would have "absolutely" helped his son.
Allan Hubley, an Ottawa city councillor whose son Jamie was 15 when he died of suicide, said the campaign might have changed how his son’s friends reacted to the bullying.
"Jamie had a lot of friends throughout the years at different levels of school and if they had been trained on what to do in a case of bullying, I can’t help but think that things might have been different for us," Hubley told CTV’s Power Play on Monday.
He said his son was bullied by classmates and struggled with depression.
The new anti-bullying and anti-discrimination strategy is being set up in partnership with the Canadian Red Cross and will see more than 48,000 of young people trained to host anti-bullying workshops in their communities.
Hubley, Laureen Harper and Heritage Minister James Moore made the announcement at A.Y. Jackson High School in Kanata, Ont., where Jamie was a student before he committed suicide.
"In the past few months and indeed years, communities across the country, including this one, have been deeply affected by tragedies related to bullying, cyber bullying and intimidation and there are far too many tragedies," Moore said, citing the deaths of Rehtaeh Parsons and Amanda Todd.
He emphasized: "If we do nothing it will lead to the death of children. Doing nothing leads to the death of children."
Hubley said too many families have lost a child due to bullying.
He thanked the government for taking action, and said "today's announcement answers our prayers and wishes to enable more people to receive this help quickly."
In the wake of Jamie's 2011 suicide, Ontario introduced the Accepting Schools Act, which calls on all publicly funded schools to allow students to form so-called gay-straight alliance clubs – something Jamie had strived to do at his high school.
“What he wanted to do was get the kids together to learn to respect each other,” Hubley said.
Some Catholic schools had banned gay-straight alliances, but then-premier Dalton McGuinty said the bill specifically allowed the creation of peer support groups, no matter what they are called.
"We're going to require that, at every school where students request that this be put in place, they be permitted to organize themselves with a gay-straight alliance," McGuinty told the legislature at the time.
"It may not be that name that they use, but the important thing is we're going to have that kind of a supportive group there available in all our schools."
Last month, the Toronto Catholic District School Board rejected a call from two trustees to ban gay-straight alliances.
In a 2012 interview with CTV News, Hubley said he wished his son was alive to see the outpouring of support that has emerged since his death.
"I'm 100 per cent certain if he had a do-over moment he wouldn't do it, wouldn't go forward with what he had done," Hubley said. "I think I would hope that after this year he would have seen that things could get better."