Elgie, 82, could not be reached for comment on Thursday. However, reached at her home Wednesday, she told the Star “there is no merit in the accusation, but I will co-operate fully in the investigation.”
When asked if she was denying having uttered the slur, she responded: “I’m not saying anything like that... I’m just saying there is no merit in the accusation.” thestar.com.
“There is no excuse for what I said, only the explanation that I was clumsily trying to refer to your concerns as reported in the media, not to you personally,” said Nancy Elgie of the incident last November when she referred to Charline Grant as a n-----, in public, after a meeting.
“As soon as my brain registered what I had said, I was overcome with shock and dismay. I felt heartsick and deeply ashamed to have said something so hurtful — even unintentionally — and so foreign to the values I have held throughout my entire life,” wrote Elgie, 82, who represents Georgina. thestar.com.
Given the ugly legacy of racism in society, it is not surprising that many people were quick to assume the worst of Nancy, even discounting that she had suffered a head trauma several weeks earlier. Such words — even used accidentally — are painful and hard to forgive.
But since a person’s reputation and life’s work hangs in the balance, we ask you to consider a few facts, and then judge for yourself. thestar.com.
The Elgies recount their mother's October concussion, which, they explain, caused her to experience difficulties with words; her career as a child psychologist; as well as the admirable reputation of the late Robert Elgie, their father and a former Cabinet Minister in the Ontario Government.
Pushback on the piece was swift and angry -- necessarily so. Save for an acknowledgement of a "legacy of racism," the concerns of an entire community in York Region are set aside so that we may ponder a "reputation" that "hangs the balance." The article is essentially a character reference written by family members. A photo of Mrs Elgie, looking frail with her head wrapped in a bandage, appeals the reader's emotions. The writers' bona fides on display in the bio-line are an appeal to authority.
Enter Kathy English, The Toronto Star's Public Editor, in an article dated February, 10th, 2017. Ms English responds to criticisms levelled of the Elgies' op-ed levelled by readers and Star staff:
The opinion article was wholly sympathetic to Nancy Elgie, as one would expect of an article written by her children.
But the reality is that the reason all the facts they recounted had not come out yet was because they themselves had chosen not to tell the reporters and had indeed asked the reporters not to report specific details of their mother’s head injury. When her children later decided to disclose more details, they opted to bypass the reporters who would have certainly asked them tough questions about why their mother had continued to work as a trustee. (Emphasis mine.) thestar.com.
Reporters ask questions. Reporters report facts. Expert opinion is sought from experts who are not attached to a story. People close to the story, like family members, don't get report. In that same newsroom, a family member or close friend of Nancy Elgie doesn't report the story. Anybody looking at this can see very plainly the op-ed was published because the Elgie name is a powerful legacy.
"But, it's an op-ed," you might say. Getting published on the op-ed page of a major newspaper, admittedly, is not something just anyone can do. The Op-Ed Editor looks for people who have expertise and a point-of-view. That point-of-view might conflict with the paper's position on the other side of the fold. The idea is to put out opinions from a credible source that allow the reader to see a story from many sides. The close relationship of the writers to the person they are writing about crosses a line. Their unwillingness to answer "tough questions" from reporters further undermines their credibility. The introduction of new information, apart from the head injury Mrs Elgie suffered, is impossible to independently verify; nor do we know whether it was brought to bear in the YRDSB investigation.
So I ask, where's Charline Grant's op-ed? Remember her? She was the York Region mom concerned about racism in her son's school. She's the parent Trustee Elgie was talking about when she uttered the slur. She is the face of people in that community who feel the sting of Trustee Elgie's words. The same people waiting for answers and action on anti-Black racism and Islamophobia in their schools.