Education Minister Laurel Broten angered even her long committed Liberal teacher supporters with the OECTA MOU + Bill 115!
Former Education Minister laurel Broten has announced her resignation as the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Women's issues and as the OLP MPP for the past ten years in the Toronto riding of Etobicoke Lakeshore. The notice was released prior to the Sunday evening announcement of the ETFO MOU voting results. Whether that was co-incidental or not is uncertain. However, the joint timing of both certainly ends a very difficult year and a half of strife between the provinces teachers and the Ontario government in which Ms Broten was often the flash point of conflict.
It was Ms. Broten who introduced the MOU contract stripping terms at the PDT table + reached an early MOU deal with the OECTA Provincial Executive. She remained under heavy attack by the public school teachers from then on, especially after Bill 115 was enacted, through until Kathleen Wynne's election on January 25th. Premier Wynne replaced her by appointing Liz Sandals as the Education Minister. Sandals has now closed separate MOU deals with both the OSSTF and ETFO teachers. An era in Ontario educational politics has reached an end with much uncertainty about what comes next.
I worked for OECTA TSU PAC on Laurel Broten's riding association from 2001 until winter 2012 when the harsh PDT terms were announced by Laurel as the Education Minister. Until then she had often been much liked by the teachers and a very popular local MPP. She was well known for knocking on her constituents doors year round inbetween elections to discuss their concerns. She was also instrumental in setting up a very successful women's shelter program in the riding. She worked with OECTA on the favourable full day kindergarten and early childhood educator programs among other issues and was often a conduct for us to the McGuinty cabinet.
All of us were quite surprised + even shocked when Laurel Broten changed drastically after the 2011 Provincial election. My best guess would be that she threw her lot in with the OLP's right wing for reasons unknown. Her political roots date back to when Federal Liberal MP Allan Rock was the Justice Minister in Ottawa under Prime Minister Jean Chretien during the 1990's. Broten had been a Bay St. lawyer until her run in the 2003 election, although I was never too sure just what the connection was. Her arm was twisted to support former Liberal Party Leader Michael Ignatief's unsuccessful Federal election attempt starting with when he was first parachuted into Etobicoke Lakeshore from Harvard as the riding's Federal candidate for MPP.
During this winter's OLP party leadership race she supported Sandra Pupatello. She gambled + lost again. Her endorsement was a surprise, as she had been good friends with Kathleen Wynne. They often campaigned together up until then. I'm not sure that her apparent demotion from the MOE was a big factor in her resignation, as it was to be expected. She seemed to be laying low for awhile in her new smaller portfolios which would've made good political sense after all she'd been through.
Possibly Ms Broten realized that her strong teacher support in the last three provincial elections had been lost. I don't doubt she'd heard that all three affiliates were planning to target her specifically in the next election. The controversial scrapping of one of the gas plants which was to be built in her riding would've posed a problem for her re-election chances as well. It is also significant that her campaign manager, Tom Allison, who had helped engineer her last three very successful election wins had gone on to become Wynne's campaign manager in her successful party leadership win. He is now a higher up in the premiers office. It would seem highly unlikely that he would be there helping Laurel out next time either.
So what happened? Politics is a blood sport. Laurel took some pretty big gambles in throwing her support behind the OLP affront on the provinces teachers. Then in backing Bay Street legal and business favourite Sandra Pupatello to pick up where Premier Dalton McGuinty had left off after he resigned. These were bad moves. I believe she saw the writing on the wall. She has now left by her own choice. It was probably her best way out.
Here are the news links:
Former OLP MOE Laurel Broten resigns effective July 2! Statement @ RESIGNS!
Here's Premier Wynne's statement on Broten's resignation. Note that Teresa Piruzza will take over the Women's Issue portfolio. Wynne will take on Intergovernmental Affairs @ Wynne
CP24 report notes a by election in her Etobicoke Lakeshore riding must be held within 6 months. She's the 4th to quit under Wynne. Furthermore she's moving to Halifax! Read @ Halifax?
The Toronto Star notes the teachers would be after her in the next election. Also one of the scrapped gas plants was in her riding. It seems she's ostensibly following her husband Paul to Halifax as he has some business opportunities there in the energy sector @ Why?
Here's your Queen's Park brief from the morning after @ By elections + speculation
During his Monday morning media scrum at QP PC party leader Tim Hudak said it's unlikely Broten quit at the same time the ETFO MOU ratification vote results were announced. Broten allegedly was "thrown under the bus" by Premier Wynne because the "big union leaders" were upset. ETFO was even rewarded with a 2% raise. Hudak claims the Liberals will never be able to balance the budget with all this reckless spending. Blah blah blah ... Of course he leaves out the part where the 2% "raise" is a catch up to put the members on par with the salaries of their counterparts across the province. He doesn't mention that it also doesn't take effect until the next 2014 contract is signed.
Follow up: Locals from Laurel Broten's riding discuss her contributions to the community. Very interesting: She denies she's leaving because of the teachers. She doesn't rule out a return to politics. Hmmm. I wonder if she's in touch with the Liberal Party in Nova Scotia, provincial or federal? Just a thought. Read @ Good bye?
OLP shops around for a new candidate in Etobicoke Lakeshore. Some names seem unlikely to me: TCDSB Chair Andrachuk?!? Read more @ Help Wanted!