Opening Statement



Saturday, 9 March 2013

Welcome to OECTA AGM 2013!

I will keep a regular updated posting here as I cover this year's AGM.

My Live Twitter Hashtag is #skuled13

Saturday 9:10 am:

To be fixed up later ...

Kevin O'Dwyer's President's Report:



This is clearly an election speech in defence of the MOU. Kevin had posted it online last week but then removed it. It will be interesting to see if it changed. He quotes a letter of congratulations from CAW Prez Lewenza on the " tentative"  MOU agreement. Rumour is that Lewnza didn't know the executive had ratified it for our members, and indeed he refers to it as a "tentative agreement". I wonder if he will hear about this and what he would say now, with hindsight?

Kevin claims OSSTF is divided at the AGM  [AMPA] up the street in the Sheraton Hotel about their executives decision's. How so? Same reason? How about us? No?

The MOU was a political decision in the political arena. All three parties have to engage us now because OECTA has political credibility, even with the PC's [this is Kevin not me! .. ]

We will have the discussion about the MOU within these walls at the AGM, not in public. Reference is also made to the OLRB. Wonder if Kevin reads my blog? He use to.

We can't take it lightly that ETFO + OSSTF have a one school system policy. OSSTF has kept theirs off the shelf and has been working with us. Kevin spoke with the OSSTF president last week. It will not hit the floor at their weekend OSSTF AGM but be referred to committee for study instead.

The NDP while moving to the Liberal left should be more accommodating for Catholic schools.


Questions anybody?!?: Nena?

The PC's are hampered by their leader. Hudak is helping us as teachers by raising the Harris right wing spectre. Nothing about Catholic Education has been mentioned.

The OLP seat projection from the Forum poll this week is shown on the screen. The numbers haven't really changed much since the last election. The political situation is fluid. This is presented as an OECTA political call to action. Kevin shows us a photo of Harper + Hudak and raises the spectre of Right to Work. To be able to properly represent us in collective bargaining OECTA needs to have credibility and good communications with all three parties.

Content arguments aside, it's a real barn burner of a political stump speech. Kevin definitely has the incumbents advantage at the AGM.

Question Period:

Kevin defends + supports the MOU decision. OECTA did not bargain away our sick days and gratuities. The government was going to take them away anyways. We got a better deal then the province had originally put on the  table.

Kevin answer in response to concerns about our solidarity with the other affiliates: OSSTF + ETFO are still talking with us.

Commentary: A very definite campaign speech that was not well received by any of the questions from the floor. Kevin did receive a fair bit of applause during his speech.

Timed item. Extension denied on procedural grounds by the chair.

Premier Wynne + MOE Liz Scandals will follow at 10:50 am

10:50 am



The premier mixes informally on break with TSU's Claudio Chichiarelli..

Premier Wynne + MOE Liz Sandals

The Premier mixed + mingled with our delegates outside the AGM hall at break. She receives a standing ovation as the province's first women premier. She is introduced  by  MOE Liz Sandals. They give each other a big hug + a tip of the hat to Kevin O'Dwyer.

Dalton answered questions at our OECTA AGM as opposition leader, Wynne many times as our MOE. The premier can't answer questions in a public address. A surprise to me but that is the traditional protocol of the premier's office. I thought she could so it seemed odd that she didn't, as she usually has been very down to earth and accessible in years' past. I stand corrected on this by our Government Relation's officer Victoria Hunt. Besides being surprised I have no reason to believe she is wrong.

Wynne notes OECTA will have a positive impact on our students for many years to come because we didn't strike or boycott EC's. OECTA's impact in teacher professional development is noted. She appreciates how hard teachers work. She will "honour" regulation 274, try to fix the process and rebuild trust. Her focus is on everyone working together for our students. She thanks OECTA!

Chris Karuhanga thanks her for coming.



New MOE Liz Sandals: No question period + nothing much to say.

Commentary: Premier Wynne received a warm but more reserved reception than in years past. She has had excellent relations with our teachers since 2003. Perhaps members are now in a more "wait to see" set of mind.? I don't think Kathleen herself is the problem. I was surprised Sandals didn't speak longer or take questions. It will be very interesting to see + hear NDP's Andrea Horwath speech tomorrow morning, and our OECTA delegates' response.

OECTA always invites speakers from all three main Ontario parties to our AGM's. The PC's don't come by choice. Theonly one I can recall was John Tory who attended our awards dinner. But they could ...

I think it is good to keep communications open as much as possible. I have met with the leaders + education ministers/ critics with from all 3 parties since 2002. Even if you don't like their politics it is valuable to be able to crawl into one's opponents head to see things through their eyes, so one can really understand how they tick. I hate to sound cliche, but all we really have to fear is fear itself. It's hard to explain. With the Harris Conservatives I felt differently. We were far past talking, for example, during the OECTA 2003 AGM. Strategic interests are the determining factor. More on this later perhaps

11:45: Sonia Di Petta Treasurers Report:



Sonia gives us her Treasurer's report

Sonia spoke most of her allotted time. Today is all about face time. Love her Star Trek top. So far James hasn't gotten any breaks. Co-incidental or not?  Politics is a blood sport! Beam us all up Scotty!

12:10 Lunch: as we eat lunch three election candidates come around to give a short speech and answer questions. All three who came to our luncheon suite had voted for the MOU. I asked the same of each; If you could vote for the MOU all over again would you or would you not vote for it?.

Anne Hawklins 1st VP: Yes. OECTA gained a "fair hire" and a "professional assessment" clause, movement on the grid. It was a better deal than was on the table. She confirmed she felt they had a "gun to their head."

Warren Grafton 3rd VP: Didn't say. Explained  his considerations in voting for it, which were similar to Anns, but did not say whether he would vote for it again. Since no supplementary questions were allowed, he did not have to reply when I asked again for a yes or no answer.

Chris Karahunga Treasurer: No. He realized he'd make a mistake about a week later when more information became available. He made a point of accepting personal responsibility, and admitted he had made a mistake in hindsight. Since July 5th he has attended many of the other teacher affiliate protest rallies. I have seen him there. He has become an advocate against the OECTA MOU.

Other questions:  How are our relations with the other teacher affiliates?

Anne: Constructive ongoing discussions continue between the leadership.

Warren: Constructive ongoing discussions continue between the leadership

Chris: A very bad situation exists. Severe damage has been done to our relationships with them.

Who replied to my blog questionnaires?

Ann + Warren did not reply to or acknowledge my email questions. Chris did and it has been posted as a blog below.



My AGM 2013 seat mates Irene Urbaniak, Claudio Chichiarelli + Ian Clarken. What a pleasure!

Chair Liz Stuart: Task Force On Recommendations

Liz was clear that as a unit president she wanted local bargaining to continue. However, the province might very well insist on province wide bargaining. The task force collected member submissions. These were used to prepare the recommendation for putting an OECTA bargaining process in place on a go forward basis to avoid the problems experienced on July 5th.

An omnibus bill of sorts has been put together and presented to the membership. Essentially it would delineate the ratification process, by clarifying the Bargaining Team and PE's communications + ratification procedures. It would clarify the COP process and give them a vote. These votes would only be on whether to approve the new tentative collective bargaining agreement for the members, who would then vote yes or no for ratification purposes. My apologies, this is a very basic summary. I can hopefully explain it more clearly later.

Summary: The time line for the task force and now the AGM vote is very hurried. I get very fed up with our OECTA affairs always being decided like this. The argument this time is that it is  better to have something rather than nothing in place for the 2014 PDT talks. The argument has been that OECTA cannot control the external timelines and needs something internally in place asap.

The devil is always in the details. The Task Force recommendations would take quite a while to carefully go over with a fine tooth comb. As classroom teachers we are busy and haven't had enough time to really do so carefully. In all fairness it has been available for a few weeks now, but came out between our exam time and the beginning of second semester for most of us at the secondary level.  So again, we need to decide something big and we need to decide it fast.

Long + short of it: We are still functioning in a reactive mode, for whatever the reason. I grow tired and suspicious of quite frequently having to make a lot of major decisions like this at both the local and provincial level. We far too often seem to be caught off guard by an emergency crisis that requires us to act now without much time for questions, discussion, or reflection. Indeed we sure spent very little time on the taask force recommendations before voting on them in block at this year's AGM



Here I am telling everybody what to do! ;-) ;-)

As Liz has also pointed out, the motions approved in block are expedient but will also need to be fine tuned next year and probably for a while afterwards. Can we afford not to have a new ratification procedure in place after what happened July 5th? Please note I do not fault Liz for her efforts + guidance. She was very upfront + to the point.

Concern: This is like closing the barn door after the horse is gone. All of the Provincial Executive could + probably will approve it + look good, because we are moving forward now with new procedures in place. However much damage has all ready been done. I don't believe this excuses anyone from having approved the MOU vote on July 5th. Chris was honest and upfront. Otherwise ... ?

3:43 pm: Election Speeches

Elaine McMahon [Councillor]: spoke of transparency + change. Elaine was involved in the OLRB complaint + voted against the MOU.

Chris Karuhanga [Treasurer]: spoke about  team work + integrity. Chris explains he voted for the MOU but has since turned against it and has become active in the protest movement. Chris notes he was formerly the OECTA Provincial Treasurer for a few years.

Jeremy Cox [Treasurer]: Spoke of putting aside one's own interests for the greater good + about protecting our members. Jeremy voted for the MOU. Jeremy has experience as a local unit treasurer.



Me: Interesting! Very interesting!

Marcie Tomari [3rd VP] Marcie unfortunately did not receive my questionnaire. I can confirm that. It's too bad. Marcie has 36 years experience as an educator. She has served on many provincial committees + currently is the Chair of Finances. Her focus is on protecting Catholic education, and on moving forward.

Andrew Donihee [3rd VP] He provides family antidotes and explains how they relate to looking after the membership. His focus is on experience, leadership + unity. He voted for the MOU. He sent his regrets when he received my questionnaire.

Warren Grafton [2nd VP]: We need a unified front to fight the right wing attack against unions. There is much that divides us. We must be vigilant and strong. His knowledge, experience and integrity is emphasized. He says he has demonstrated these qualities. Warren voted for the MOU and did not respond to my questionnaire.

Sonia Di Petta [1st VP]; Quotes Robert Frost on the road long less travelled. She spent long years as an OT and became OT President while she taught and raised a family. She has 9 years experience on PE

Anne Hawkins [1st VP]: Speaks of positive and pro active directions. Also about working for the members. Ann has a strong social justice background. She emphasizes her social justice participation in OECTA's LGBS initiatives, status of women and human rights. Ann voted for the MOU and did not reply to the questionnaire. She says she has had a good working relationship with the other affiliates in the past, also that she supports free and unfettered collective bargaining.




Kevin + James await the questions.

Kevin O'Dwyer [President] Speaks of PE's unwavering commitment to the membership. Tough times created problems for the collective. Our needs need to be met and he has fought tirelessly for our members. We are tougher than the tough times. We are tougher than the political parties. PE has been a thoughtful and strategic advocate for Catholic education. Kevin has 20 years experience. We claims he has been acclaimed by the large labour groups and  is respected by all 3 parties. Other candidates are playing sour with this election. He says he stands for leadership and democracy. Kevin voted 4 the MOU and did not reply to the survey.

James Ryan [First President] He speaks about us having suffered the worst contract stripping since the 1990's + the need to send a clear message to all three parties at Queens Park. There must be no more concessions. He notes he is running for President again. He withdrew from the wage restrain talks which had no benefits for our membership when he was president. The task force has worked to create a strong democratic CB process, which he supports. We need a  fair, clear democratic process with a direct membership ratification vote. As for our relationships with the labour and Catholic community  and other affiliates? We are deeply divided and isolated from them. We need to nuture these relationships to fight RTW. James answered the blog questions for our members and voted against the MOU.

Question Period:

Jeremy passes on answering 3 questions, one on the grounds that he claimed it is political where he is running for treasurer. I am confused. Chris answers all the questions. He is personable about it. The Treasurer candidate's engagement or lack thereof with the voters was as different as day and night when it came to transparency in addressing our voter questions. This could prove critical.

Kevin gets quite worked up at one point about supporting the MOU. James speaks in Kevin's defence to explain why he should not be centered out for the MOU, and that he doubts Kevin had any bad intentions. It is quite a contrast in leadership styles. James has clearly highlighted his ability to work with people and not against them on difficult issues.

I'm not sure that is a good move. Politics is a blood sport. When Kevin lost it and snapped at the questions, I would not think it necessary or wise to stop him from having hung himself.



I admire Richard for being straight up and speaking out. This AGM lacked that candor.

Bad Boy Brock and I are a lot more upfront in shooting straight from the hip and not engaging in any fancy talk when the going gets rough. This years AGM is about being quiet and supposedly acting responsibly + with courtesy. There is still a lot of nasty back door shenanigans going on and little direct talk about the big unspoken elephant sized issues in the room. The tight procedural rules and agenda control only push the obvious heat underground, they do not make it go away. James has been incredibly positive. It will be interesting to see how that works out. It is a very big gamble. Will it cost or win him votes?

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