I can be so naive.
I believe in Santa Claus.
I believe in the Tooth Fairy.
I believe in the Easter Rabbit.
I believed that there was no news of interaction between the ETFO and OSSTF groups and the Ministry of Education because I thought that there was some back room negotiating and lobbying in the works over the Christmas Break. I believed that there would be a joint news conference with all parties indicating that they had somehow found a meeting of the minds in an effort to restore peace in Ontario classrooms.
Instead, like many Ontarians, I watched a news conference where the Education Minister announced that the power in Bill 115 would be used to impose a contract on the teaching groups so that their return to classrooms on Monday would be with one in place. Once the contracts were in place, the bill would then be repealed.
Reaction to the announcement was quick. Terms like “cynical misuse” made for talking points.
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So what happens now is anyone’s guess. Education is such a political flashpoint that you have to look at it carefully. One of the easiest jobs in the province belongs to Tim Hudak who will get followers who like the hard line and his promises of an even harder line, given the chance. Andrea Horwath of the New Democratic Party will have a similarly easy job picking up people who were concerned about the treatment of the profession and the use of the bill to get results.
The hardest job belongs to those who aspire to be the leader of the Liberal Party. How do you follow the show the province got today?
For the classroom teacher looking forward to a return to work on Monday, they sit and wonder – what will this new contract look like? How will we respond to it?
The one question that remained unanswered was this response and where do voluntary value added services stand? The news was full of speculation about this since the contract will penalize any strike action. Help us if this whole experience ends up with a description that these services always considered voluntary end up being classified as something else.
The Leadership Convention of the Liberal Party will give us a good idea about what to expect in the next years leading to an Ontario election. It will be a tough issue for leaders to address but they must absolutely do so. Otherwise, there are two other options available right now for the voting Ontarian. They will only be amplified going into an election.
The one thing that still gets me is the use of Bill 115. It is used to achieve a purpose and then is repealed. It’s an ugly use of a law. Equally as scary is that it is now done and sets a precedent for use again? Is this how we want our government to run its business? That’s just another thing that’s going to make running at the Liberal Convention so hard.