Opening Statement



Wednesday, 5 September 2012

My Toronto Labour Day Parade Report [2012]


Some Labour Day scuttlebutt and an OECTA news scoop!

1st VP Chris Karuhanga has announced his candidacy for OECTA Provincial President next year at our Spring 2013 AGM [Annual General Meeting]. Chris has spent nine years on provincial executive, three as our treasurer, and two in each of our 3rd VP, 2nd VP and 1st VP positions. We look forward to learning more about his stand on various pressing issues affecting us as Catholic teachers in the months ahead.

The OECTA presidency is a 2 year term. Presidents can run for a second term. President O'Dwyer has not yet declared his intentions to run again, making Chris an early first. Of course, if there are more than one candidate we will be headed toward a presidential election. That could be exciting! Otherwise, Chris, as 1st VP would be the OECTA executive candidate usually next in line for this position, should the current president step aside. In recent years most of our presidents have served one two year term, but not always.

Chris has put in the time needed to properly master the steep OECTA Provincial Executive learning curve. Best wishes Chris! He's off and running for president. P.S. And yes, I asked him if it was okay to run with the scoop as we discussed it during the march.

There were also unconfirmed rumours along the Toronto parade route that ETFO President Sam Hammond might be completing his final term. Dunno, but that was the scuttlebutt.

OECTA TECT President Mario Bernardo explained to me how his unit's executive voted to endorse NDP candidate Catherine Fife in the K-W by election. It was felt that TECT's Liberal support in year's past should  not be taken to granted. Also, what happens next year with our pension talks, if the Liberals win a majority by taking both Kitchener-Waterloo and Vaughan in the Sept.6 by-elections?

OECTA TSU decided not to get involved. The local K-W OECTA unit was contacted. They were glad we asked about their by-election position, apparently most units don't. Since they were staying neutral, it was felt our executive should respect the unit's position on their home turf in the riding.

ETFO and OSSTF have both endorsed Fife.

Neither OECTA TSU or TECT has endorsed a candidate in Vaughan. Of course our OECTA members are free to contribute or otherwise assist on their own, and in K-W and Vaughan that has certainly been the case.

Members from both units also made a showing at the Queen's Park Education Protest last week, despite Provincial's silence on the matter. Both units are good team players but can think for ourselves locally and provincially. Anyway it was great seeing all our TECT brothers and sisters again at the Labour Day Parade. That goes for ETFO and OSSTF too!

I enquired how the TYLC [Toronto York Labour Council] Education Committee came up with the teachers' Labour Day marching slogan "Unity Against Austerity". I was told they decided it was time to let everyone know that a class struggle is happening..........

O.K. nowI understand how the banks, and investment firms helped create the world economic crisis. That huge corporate welfare payouts were provided by the government using our tax dollars to bail out the biggies. How public servants and workers are bearing the brunt of the cuts to try to now somehow balance the budget for a crisis that was not our fault. And so it goes............

However, I wince at the delusional notion of us marching around thinking we are some kind of intellectual middle class Bolsheviks educating the proles, be it in their workplaces or out in the election campaign fields of Ontario, for a class struggle. Reality fix time! Sorry to break this to you comrades, but I really doubt "class struggle" is going to sell very well in Ontario.

Nope I can't see it! Ontario is orange. It's basically been like that going way back to when we were founded. Nowadays Ontario tends to be fiscally to the right of centre, and socially to the left, at least let's say compared to our neighbours to the south. Or Russia at the turn of the 20th century, Cuba under Baptista. China under Mao.

The only "long march" you might see around here is the Terry Fox Marathon. When the average person gets excited about a struggle, it's usually a fight at a hockey game. The Communist Manifesto never makes the top ten list at Amazon.ca, nor has it been made into a blockbuster TVO movie. John and Jane Doe think radicals are not nice, and wouldn't want their son or daughter to marry one. When you mention Lenin, most folk think you are talking about John not Vladimir. ZZZZZZ I know, not very exciting, except maybe for the Beatle part!!!

How can I put this nicely? Please whistle "Imagine" all you want but remember it's very important to focus on our audience in a way they understand and can empathize with. This isn't it! The current climate does have a lot of exciting potential for change. Let's not blow our opportunity now!


Hob Nobbin' with Chris Karuhanga on his 2013 OECTA AGM Presidential election candidacy on Labour Day.

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