Opening Statement

Monday 28 October 2013

Ask Angelo! A New Q+A Blog Feature!

Angelo Ippolito is the local OECTA President for the Huron - Perth Elementary unit. His bio is included at the end of today's blog, listing his many credentials.* Angelo has volunteered to answer your questions about OECTA's Constitution, By-law, policies + procedures here on my independent teacher blog. I'm very glad to have him on board to help out, and hope this can become a regular feature. Your questions may be directed for Angelo to answer below this blog. His email address is also included below. Take it away Angelo:

Dear Readers, 
An open and constructive dialogue is what we need here on the many questions you are raising in the Comments section of David's blog. Let me give it a try. I will address questions and concerns from my personal view point. I will not resort to personal attacks and I will not break confidentiality. I will not undermine the integrity of individuals or duly constituted groups.  I will explain what I can and always be truthful.

Feel free to say whatever you want but keep it civil. I will be straightforward and answer appropriately. Rest assured that even if,

“I disagree with what you say, I will defend to my dying breath your right to say it." Voltaire. 
As a unit president, my local members must always come first. I will answer in a timely manner without taking away from my primary duty to the members.

The purpose of this blog Q+A feature is to move towards unity, foster trust, and cooperation. I understand that if I write anything that falls under the jurisdiction of the discipline board what could happen. It will not. A respectful and appropriate dialogue that seeks justice and truth using our right to freedom of expression will help us and this is always in the best interests of the Association. There is nothing wrong with tough questions. I will do my best. 

To get things started, we should consider the following:

Everything must be taken under the following context and definitions. 
From the OECTA Handbook 
1.1 - The Constitution is the fundamental principals of the Association.

Nothing can override the constitution except a 90 percent vote at the AGM.

2.1 - By-laws are a more detailed statement of the Association regulations deemed to be so necessary that they can only be changed by the annual general meeting.

By-laws supersede all other parts of the Handbook except the constitution. They must always be followed. Any motion or process not in accordance with the by-laws or the constitution is always out of order.

3.1 - Policies are statements reflecting the principals and objects of the Association constitution that guide the actions of officers, staff and members,
Policies are not debatable. They are not guides open to making them disregarded. They are there to guide our actions and not there for us to decide if they are actually policy. Our actions as well as staff, must be conducted in accordance with policy.

4.1 - Procedures are statements of how selected by-laws and policies are to be implemented and of how some other activities of the Association will be conducted.
Procedures are subservient to all other parts of the Handbook. If other parts of the Handbook are violated in order to implement a procedure, that implementation would always be out of order. 

I hope this helps as we move forward. OECTA will survive and be even stronger if we all work together within the Association, within the teacher affiliates, and within labour in general. It is time to get united. 
By working together we will serve the best interests of our members.

Let’s talk.


Angelo Ippolito  
Let the questions begin in the Comment Bar Below!
 [*] Said Bio 
Angelo has been involved in OECTA for 25 years. He has served as chair of the Finance Committee, Provincial Treasurer, Provincial Counsellor, OTF Governor, member of the Educational Aid Committee, Health and Safety Committee, Elementary Workload Task Force, a financial review task force, the Provincial Discussion Table Task Force, OTF Ethical Investment Task Force, Chief Negotiator for his unit, Unit President, and he has attended many CLC, OFL, National Catholic Education, CAPSLE and Workers Health and Safety Centre, seminars and conventions. This is just part of what Angelo brings to the discussion. He is a recipient of the OTF Fellowship award. Angelo has always been very vocal in defending freedom of expression, justice, and the Handbook. This year will be Angelo's 24th AGM.

Friday 25 October 2013

Contribute to the Richard Brock Trust Fund!

 # 03862 010 5027918 

Funds will be held anonymously in trust + refunded in full if Richard is reinstated beforehand.










TRUST ACCOUNT:  # 03862 010 5027918


Wednesday 23 October 2013

Final Draft: Reinstate Richard Brock Petition!

Here is the final draft of the petition for you to sign. You can sign it, and include your own comments on why you support it @ REINSTATE RICHARD BROCK PETITION!

Please sign + comment: Who's next if you don't speak out now!

Here is the text of the petition as it now appears on the site:

In recognition of OECTA’s wrongful dismissal of President Richard Brock of Halton, WE, the undersigned Members understand that an injustice has been perpetrated in the name of our Association and request that President James Ryan and the Provincial Executive: 

1. Restore Richard Brock as Halton Elementary Unit President, acknowledging that his “trial” lacked fairnesstransparency, and due process; that the discipline board lacked the authority to try him; that our Association opposes rather than perpetrates unfairness and inequality; that all members have a moral duty both to combat and to right injustices committed in the name of our Association.

2. Undertake to govern in accordance with the constitution and by-laws of our Association, promoting democracy, member rights and following the rule of law within OECTA. 
3. Respect the right to free speech of all members.

4. Commit publicly and unreservedly to treat all members fairly and with due process, undertaking a disciplinary process that exhibits transparency and impartiality; that embodies fairness and justice; that clearly complies with the standards of administrative justice in Ontario and follows all the rules in the OECTA Handbook.

5. Admit in writing that the discipline board which met in February before the 2012 AGM did so without any Provincial Executive having appointed any of its members, and met without the knowledge or approval of the Provincial Executive of that year, and that the report they produced while not a legally constituted board is out of order as is true for any report submitted by any group that is illegally called to meet.

Additional Info:

Scroll down page to read the petition comments @ Bottom of page!

How to get media attention + launch a Phone Call A Day Campaign @ Guide!

Monday 21 October 2013

Democracy in OECTA!

[My Ontario Teacher + Union Acronym Guide list is @ Dictionary]

The Catholic teachers of Ontario expect the government and OECTA to restore their faith in democracy and rule of law and also in the legal system that protects these cornerstones of Canadian society. Otherwise; how can teachers teach these concepts to the children of Ontario with any conviction? We, as teachers, evidently are not allowed to enjoy the very benefits of democracy and rule of law; and the attendant exercise of our voting rights and Charter rights; that we advocate so passionately in our classrooms.  

The very peace that law, order and good government provide in a democratic society is increasingly at risk. A democratic government is defined as “government that is established on trust to safeguard the rights of the people” (John Locke). A government that seeks to destroy or eradicate the rights of workers or any other target group of the people is by definition not a democratic government, and should more accurately be awarded an authoritarian label.  This reasoning also applies to OECTA. A union is established on trust to safeguard the rights of its members.  The increasing pressure for provincial “bargaining” in the education sector with the attendant lack of the requisite (inconvenient) ratification voting by the teachers and their local units is truly alarming. The local units are the closest to the actual members and actually know their needs. Voting is the only mechanism for approval or disapproval of a collective agreement that exists in a democratic system. If there is a total absence of member voting; there is no possibility of majority rule and hence no democracy.  

The provincial government did not allow teachers proper unfettered collective bargaining and OECTA provincial did not allow a lawful member ratification vote on their surprise Memorandum of Understanding dated July 5, 2012. Both the provincial government and OECTA Provincial claim to be democratic organizations governed by the will of the people/members. The secret collaboration of OECTA Provincial and the provincial government during the MOU debacle, did not serve either to preserve democracy or to increase citizen/member trust at all. Au contraire. 

Rebuilding democracy: It is not easy!
Now we have yet another debacle in OECTA that demonstrates an open disregard for the fundamental democratic right to freedom of opinion and expression, in addition to, the basic civil rights and natural justice rights of an OECTA member. Moreover, there is evidence of an open disregard for both the constitution/handbook of our association and Canadian Law. 

 To add yet more fuel to the fire of OECTA member distress, Halton Elementary President Richard Brock, was wrongfully dismissed in another OECTA Provincial travesty on August 22nd, 2012. Brock had been a publicly outspoken critic of OECTA Provincial’s MOU “deal” and was apparently contemplating taking steps to ensure that his unit kept some of its contract provisions despite the MOU  (as many units are doing). 
 President Brock was in the OLRB last year also trying to protect his members’ rights and by extension, all of our rights.  I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Brock at the OLRB when I was there as the co-leader of the Metro 7 group. We were in the Ontario Labour Relations Board to assert that teachers have a right to a ratification vote on their contract the same as any other workers in Ontario. I was very impressed with Mr. Brock’s courage and integrity at the time and regard him as a true hero to this day.  It takes much courage to stand up for what is right, especially when most people are just acquiescing to evil. Despite his courage or more likely due to it, President Brock was stripped of the unit President’s position that his unit members had repeatedly elected him to do (for the last 25 years)  in lawful unit elections. He recently told me, “I got fired from my job for doing my job”.   

Guest blogs + online petitions like Pams are one way to fight the good fight for democracy!

A petition is one of the increasingly limited democratic ways we can make member wishes known to Provincial OECTA.  I hope that teachers will embrace this opportunity to voice their dissatisfaction at the terrible injustice that has been inflicted upon our brother union member. 

I strongly urge all Ontario OECTA members to sign the justice committee’s petition and let OECTA Provincial know that we all want OECTA to be a union that is a democracy (not an oligarchy), and a democracy that safeguards the interests and rights of all its members, including the rights of President Richard Brock, as it is mandated to do.  

Free Richard! 
P. Spearns 

Staff Union Rep. Mary Ward CSS 



Thursday 17 October 2013

Reinstate Richard Brock: Introduction

[My Ontario Teacher + Union Acronym Guide list is @ Dictionary]

Guest Blogger: Mr. Cafferky is well known on my site for his articles last year on the OECTA MOU, the Brock Decision this fall, as well as for his participation in the dissident Metro 7 teachers group, whom joined in the OECTA MOU ORLB compliant. Here's is his latest blog:

The Reinstate Richard Brock Campaign.

I write this article to explain (in detail) why I oppose OECTA’s dismissal of Richard Brock, president of Halton elementary unit. At first I must apologise for the length of my analysis; however, some problems are just too important to be argued with sound bites.  To make amends for today’s lengthy offering, I promise to submit in the next few days a petition co-authored by a group of concerned OECTA members—it will be succinct.
After OECTA signed the MoU with the McGuinty Government, a group of concerned members challenged OECTA at the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB). Although several complaints were possible, we concentrated on the right to ratify our contract. To this day it is scarcely believable OECTA disputed our right to vote on our contract, arguing at the OLRB that when the sole bargaining agent (OECTA) signs a binding contract with the government instead of with the direct employer there is no need for a ratification vote. Clearly, something is fundamentally broken and dysfunctional at the heart of our union.    

We were joined at the OLRB by four OECTA units, including the Halton Elementary unit, represented by its president, Richard Brock. These four units had independently determined that the sudden switch to provincial bargaining by OECTA had significantly disadvantaged their members. One must emphasize that while the process was civil, it was decidedly adversarial with neither side inclined nor willing to exchange casual courtesies. This adversarial friction continued into the AGM where president O’Dwyer was narrowly voted out of office, demonstrating that the MoU had deeply divided OECTA.

Supporters of the MoU in the units and in the bureaucracy were bitterly disappointed with Mr. O’Dwyer’s defeat. Thus, it came as no surprise that some advocates for the MoU lodged a complaint against Richard Brock, the leading anti-MoU voice in our Association. What did come as a surprise was the outcome of that complaint and the procedures and process employed in arriving at that outcome. This article concentrates on the procedures and the process concerns but for completeness I must briefly comment on the punishment.  

The discipline panel that tried Richard Brock declared that in their judgment he had injured in some manner the interests of the Association. As punishment, they suspended his membership privileges for two years, which automatically set aside his election as president of the Halton Elementary Unit. This discipline panel meted out one of the most severe punishments in our Association’s seventy-year history, a penalty of such extreme severity that it inevitably raises questions whether the punishment fits the crime. A puzzling aspect of the Brock case is determining the exact offence he is supposed to have committed. The sole body that has unambiguous authority to declare the interests of the Association is the Provincial Executive. In this case the Provincial Executive failed to warn Mr. Brock that his conduct was injurious to the interests of the association (that finding was made by the panel at a much later date) which contradicts OECTA’s long standing insistence that our employers must warn teachers and at least offer some corrective intervention before administering severe punishment or dismissal. When dealing with our employers, we object to any form of ambush, insisting on documentation and warnings before action is taken. What justifies OECTA to conduct its internal affairs by a markedly inferior standard to what we demand from our employers? It is an outrage.

You too?

Furthermore, the punishment took no account of many extenuating and mitigating circumstances far too numerous to list in this article. For example, because the MoU was so poorly negotiated, many implementation problems arose that the secretariat could not easily resolve which resulted in a near shutdown in the information flow out to the units. This lack of clarity resulted in all unit presidents operating in the dark to some degree and with the presidents of the more disadvantaged units wrestling with intensely confusing and frustrating problems—Richard Brock was one such president.  He repeatedly asked for information, direction and clarity from the executive and the secretariat, and just as repeatedly, he received no answer. Given the prevailing climate of tension and division created by the MoU, the penalty imposed on Richard Brock strikes me as wildly disproportionate to his alleged offence.  

When reviewing the process and procedures in the Brock trial, one must remember that OECTA is a democratic association.  Democracy is a method of self-governance that allows the voters to overturn the rulers without a bloody civil war. However, a democratic victory is tempered by a legal obligation to respect the rule of law. All mature democracies have the plebiscite and the rule of law, and OECTA is no exception. In the disciplining of Richard Brock, an appointed tribunal set aside the valid election of a unit president. Elections belong to all members of the Association and it is a grave matter for an appointed tribunal to undo an election as punishment—the issue goes to the core of who we are. All members of OECTA not only have a stake in the democratic process of our Association but also have a duty to preserve and protect that process.

For the past two decades, the Ontario courts have consistently set higher standards of procedural fairness in administrative justice cases, especially when those cases affect the individual’s ability to earn their income. A legitimate discipline process must respect two principles of natural justice: 1). “nemo judex in sua propria causa debet esse – no person, faction, group or body should be a judge in their own case or more simply said— the process must be free from bias; 2) “Audi alteram partem” the other side has a right to be heard in full. The standard for a tribunal today is that it must not only fulfill the requirements of the procedure but it must go the extra mile to ensure the process is fair and just. In the celebrated words of a great British jurist, it is not merely of some importance, but of fundamental importance that justice should not only be done, but should manifestly be seen to be done." I anticipate unanimity on fairness because no member of OECTA wants anything less than an absolutely fair, impartial, legitimate, professional and just disciplinary process.

Politics in our Association must be isolated and hermetically sealed from discipline.  In this respect, I feel uneasy that Mr. Jarvis failed to recuse himself from the case when he first received the complaint against Mr. Brock. From July 5th, 2012 onward, both Mr. Jarvis and Mr. Brock vigorously advocated their pro- and anti-MoU arguments in the forums of our Association. These men were political opponents as demonstrated by their sitting on opposing sides of the table at the OLRB last year.  When Mr. Jarvis received the complaint about Mr. Brock, our procedures outline the following steps:

4.138 The decision of the general secretary with respect to the question of jurisdiction shall be final.

4.141 Upon  receipt  of  such  written  complaint  the  general  secretary  or  designate  shall conduct or cause to be conducted an investigation into the complaint such that the general secretary can determine:

4.141.1 if the complaint is vexatious, frivolous or insubstantial; and

4.141.2 whether a settlement of the complaint can be effected.

Mr. Jarvis was called on to judge his opponent’s activities. In the interest of preserving procedural fairness it would have been preferable if the general secretary designated an impartial member of the secretariat to handle the complaint from the beginning—justice must be seen to be done.

Mr. Jarvis referred the complaint to the discipline board, whose chairperson, Mr. Ryan, was then obliged to:

4.143 Upon receipt of a complaint the discipline board chairperson shall appoint a three-member panel from among the members of the board and shall advise the general secretary of a hearing date, time and place determined by the panel.

Mr. Ryan appointed himself to the panel despite his having served as president of Durham, one of the complainant units against Mr. Brock. The standards of fairness require that the individual sitting in judgment must be totally detached from the disputing parties; must be absolutely impartial; must be committed to fairness and truth. Mr. Ryan appointed to the panel Mr. Tomcko, the immediate past president of Thunder Bay Elementary unit, a unit that supported the MoU throughout 2012/2013. Mr. Tomcko served as the chairperson of the audit committee and attended the first vote of the COP on the MoU where he witnessed the beginning of these bitter disputes.

When the discipline panel is selected, the Handbook provides for the following procedures:

4.144 Upon receipt of this advice the general secretary shall serve the complainant(s) and the respondent(s) with a notice of hearing containing:

4.144.1 the date, time and place of the hearing;

4.144.2 a statement that the parties are entitled to appear in person and/or be represented by a member of the secretariat or an agent (who is not legal counsel);

4.144.3 a statement that if the parties do not appear at the time scheduled for the hearing, the discipline panel will consider the matter in their absence without any further notice; and

4.144.4 a statement that the Association will pay reasonable travel and accommodation costs incurred by the parties and their agent at the hearing.

4.145 The complainants and the respondent shall be the parties to the hearing and shall be entitled to appear in person and, assisted by the secretariat member assigned to each party or the agent, shall be responsible for the presentation of evidence and the making of submissions.

4.146 The  chairperson  of  the  discipline  panel  shall  conduct  the  hearing,  and  at  the conclusion of the hearing the panel shall determine whether the respondent is in breach of the constitution, by-laws, policies or procedures of the Association

These procedures are formal and they correspond with Robert’s Rules of Order Page 663, “FORMAL NOTIFICATION OF THE OFFICER OR MEMBER”. As a reminder, OECTA’s constitution stipulates that:

1.10 The rules contained in the latest edition of Robert’s Rules of Order, where they are not inconsistent with this constitution or any special rules of order the Association may adopt, shall govern the Association.

Robert’s Rules indicate the formal process begins with the letter of notification and continues through to the completion of trial (Robert’s uses the term “trial”). The notification sent to Mr. Brock failed to mention any special rules of procedure; thus, the formal rules of procedure are restricted to those found in the Handbook and in section XX of Robert’s Rules. Neither the Handbook nor Robert’s Rules provides authority to the chairperson of the panel to set his own rules of procedure.

Much confusion has arisen regarding the discipline board, the chairperson of the discipline board, the discipline panel, and the chairperson of the discipline panel. The board and its chairperson are provided for in the by-laws, while the three-member panel and its chairperson are selected by the board chairperson under OECTA’s Procedures. A particular discipline panel has no authority to set its own procedures and policies on evidence, otherwise we must contemplate the possibility whereby two members are tried for the same offense under radically different rules of procedure, a possibility that must be summarily rejected.

Robert’s rules of Order 11th edition (the latest, published in 2011) states in Section XX under TRIAL PROCEDURE P. 663-665:

The trial is a formal hearing on the validity of the charges. At the trial, the evidence against the accused officer or member is presented by the managers for the society, and the officer or member has the right to be represented by counsel and to speak and produce witnesses in his own defense. … If the plea to the charge is not guilty, the trial proceeds in the following order, the chair first explaining all the steps, then calling for each of them in sequence: (1) opening statements by both sides—the managers first; (2) testimony of witnesses produced by the managers for the society; (3) testimony of defense witnesses; (4) rebuttal witnesses on behalf of the society; and then on behalf of the defense, if any; and (5) closing arguments by both sides.… Cross-examination, redirect examination, and recross examination of witnesses is permitted, and witnesses may be recalled for further testimony as the occasion may dictate.

The accused not only has the constitutional right to call witnesses but to recall them if so desired.  OECTA’s disciplinary panel denied Mr. Brock’s constitutional right to call witnesses in his defense. The panel justified its decision because Mr. Brock had not provided  “will-say” statements for his witnesses. The OECTA Handbook and Robert’s Rules of Order are silent on will-say statements; therefore, the obligation to provide will-say statements is a procedural rule of the discipline panel, a rule that cannot nullify Mr. Brock’s constitutional right.

 Mr. Boyle, agent for Mr. Brock, twice asked Mr. Ryan for a copy of the manual and guidelines being followed and adopted by the discipline panel. Egregiously and with prejudice to Mr. Brock, Mr. Ryan ignored these requests. Robert’s Rules is explicit about specifying the details of the trial. Robert’s Rules of Order, TRIAL PROCEDURE, page 664,

At any time before the commencement of the trial with the first of the "preliminary steps" described below, the assembly may, by majority vote, adopt a resolution to govern the trial specifying details not inconsistent with the procedures described here*. (The  Asterix on this reads as follows "the assembly may vary the procedures described here through adoption of special rules of order for disciplinary proceedings either by previous notice and a two-thirds vote or by a vote of a majority of the entire membership.) The resolution may include an agenda that establishes times for portions of the trial, such as time limits for opening and closing statements. If time limits are imposed, they must allow the defense at least equal time for each element of the trial as that allowed the managers, and this rule may not be suspended without the consent of the defense.

Robert’s Rules of Order do not confer on the chairperson the authority to alter the procedures or the details of trial. Thus the request by Mr. Boyle to receive a copy of the handbook and guidelines being followed by the discipline panel was both the constitutional right and the natural justice right of the accused. Mr. Ryan chose to disclose neither the authority nor the guidelines he had used to alter the procedure set out in Robert’s Rules of Order. Constitutional rights always trump procedural protocol. The discipline panel had a duty to act fairly, to conduct an impartial trial, and to ensure the accused’s right to present his case in full. They failed in their duty, conducted a flawed hearing; consequently, rendered an invalid verdict.  As guardians of the Association’s constitution and by-laws, the executive should take corrective action and set aside the discipline panel’s ruling.

The discipline panel that tried Mr. Brock ensnared him in legalistic technicalities so I would like to adopt the same legalistic spirit to the appointment of the discipline board.  

The By-Laws pertaining to the Discipline Board are:

Discipline Board

2.193 There shall be a discipline board comprised of six members who shall be appointed by the provincial executive for a term of no less than three years.

2.194 To be eligible for appointment to the discipline board, a member shall:

2.194.1 no longer hold elective office in the Association; or

2.194.2 be a retired member.

2.195 The term of office of the chairperson of the discipline board shall be as determined by the provincial executive.

2.196 The duties of the discipline board chairperson shall be:

2.196.1 to hold a meeting of the discipline board when the chairperson deems it necessary;

2.196.2 to  receive  complaints  forwarded  by  the  general  secretary  and  deal  with  them  as required by 4.136 to 4.151;

2.196.3 to submit to the general secretary an annual report for inclusion in the agenda of the annual general meeting.

The terms of office for members of the discipline board are unique in OECTA because they must be explicitly stated for each member upon appointment. The only restriction on the Executive is that the term of office must not be less than three years. It would be perfectly correct for the Executive to appoint a member to the board for five years, and it would be legal, if not very wise, to appoint a person to the board for seven or more years. There is no motion in Executive minutes of the appointment of the discipline board members—presumably one should find six such motions.  Consequently, we do not know when these individuals were appointed, for how long they were appointed, and when their terms of office expire or whether some of those terms of office have already expired. The simple truth is that OECTA cannot validate the membership of the discipline board, and as a result, OECTA cannot certify or validate the terms of office of these six individuals. Having a discipline board whose members have indeterminate terms of office contravenes our by-laws: There is no remedy for the missing terms of office so we must conclude the members of the board were not validly appointed; hence, the discipline board has no authority. One might now ask: If OECTA’s Provincial Executive did not appoint the discipline board, who appointed them? And to what purpose? However tempting, that is a battle for another day.

In summary: A valid presidential election for the Halton Elementary Unit was set aside by an appointed three-member discipline panel. The panel denied Mr. Brock his constitutional right to call witnesses in his defence on the basis of their procedural rule of demanding will-say statements, a rule emanating from guidelines they refused to disclose to the defense. The discipline panel emanates from a discipline board whose members, contrary to our by-laws, hold office without receiving the sanction of the Provincial Executive, members whose individual terms of office are indeterminable and could even be expired. It is a travesty of justice when a tribunal which cannot establish its own legitimacy sets aside a valid election on the strength of a legal technicality that it had created without the authority of the Handbook, Robert’s Rules of Order or our AGM.

The Provincial Executive is empowered to run the association between AGM’s in accordance with the constitution and by-laws of our Association. I call on the executive to declare the discipline board vacant because the legitimacy of its appointed members cannot be established, and/or to set aside the decisions of the discipline panel because the procedure followed by the panel violated Mr. Brock’s constitutional right to have disclosure of the rules of procedure and to call witnesses in his defence.

John Cafferky,

Blessed Pope John Paul II Catholic Secondary School


Next Time: The Petition!


Tuesday 15 October 2013

On the Road Up North!

Howdy folks!

I am on the road up north to Sudbury for the next few days. I will continue to publish your comments, and add any necessary news links. You might also want to check out my photo slide show to the top left of my blogsite to see if it really is like a Group of 7 painting. My southern readers that is, I know many of you are from Northern Ontario, so this is hardly an event of sorts for you! You know all ready!

I'm planning on taking my time driving up from Toronto, to enjoy the autumn leaves and countryside. I will be visiting my sister, and my mom in the nursing home. My sister Maryanne and I will be going for an autumn drive. She's going to show me the colours. I am avid to see them again. Fall arrives late in Toronto here in the south, and is hardly near as spectacular as in Northern Ontario.

Perhaps I am too late all ready to see the leaves change colour in Sudbury? If so I will be sure to stop to check them out and enjoy along the way up and back home. Commune with nature, so to speak. Sudbury is about a 4 hour drive north, foot to the floor, which I hardly plan to do this time. All things in good time. I am quite looking forward to my little road trip. Off I go with my camera, and some good tunes for in the car, driving along on my lonesome.

I am no stranger to the north per se. My mom was born in Kirkland Lake. My grandfather was a painter there. Besides painting a lot of the houses, and the landscapes, he also once painted the greeting sign over the highway just outside of town, and a big wall mural you saw as you arrived in town.

I won't be visiting Kirkland Lake this trip. I want to visit mom in the nursing home in Sudbury. I am bringing a book of photographs from her side of the family and am going to ask her whom she can identify, the places and times, whatever she can remember. Her memory is going, though her health is good. I'd like to see what more family history I can rescue and save from the shifting mists of time before it is too late. Also just to see her of course, and spend a little time together on my birthday. Maryanne too. We can discuss our trip to Santiago de Cuba for a week next month. We will visit my teacher friends, go to the Cuban schools. Should be fun too!

I will be back in a few days to beat the weekend traffic. Keep checking in here though in the meantime. I'm pretty confident there is enough to keep everything going for a few days in my immediate absence! Also look forward to a guest blog and a few other posts I trust you will find very interesting, in the next few days ahead!

11:00 pm

Weee! Here I am driving my car! Not! Actually I had to stop 3 times for road work.

It was a good way to spend my birthday! I left Toronto at 11:30 am and arrived in Sudbury by 4:30 with 2 roadside and a rest stop along the way. It was relaxing to just stand on the roadside in the middle of nowhere and look at the picturesque scenery; the forests, lakes, + rock out croppings, all very Group of 7ish like paintings in fall colours. For my rest stop I pulled over at the French River Provincial Park; named after the "French" peoples. I think so. There's a walking bridge arching over the gorge. Quite spectacular. Many if not most of the leaves had changed colour two weeks ago, and fallen off the trees, but there were still bright splashes of colour everywhere, fabulous oranges, crimson red, every shade inbetween.

French River Gorge

I've spent too much idle time at home screwing the pooch while I thought about going to see the autumn leaves up north this fall. Truth be told it is getting late. The full autumn splendour of the changing colours has reached south to north of Barry now. Further north the trees grown increasingly barren. I would think they will arrive in Toronto next week. That's splendorous too, in an urban rather than in the rustic, sense, but it will suffice. Still Maryanne and I are going for a drive tomorrow. It's not a total loss, there is still a lot of fall colour to see, but not the full blast I had been thinking about. So it goes.

We had a quick supper at a local diner and went to see mom at the nursing home. It was early evening and she was pretty alert. We sat and talked for awhile until I almost dozed off and she was starting to forget a lot and repeat herself. Still it was very pleasant, quite nice just being with my sister, mom and I together on my birthday. We will go see her again tomorrow after our drive through the countryside.

Mom + I on my birthday.

Oct 16

It was difficult getting my butt in gear this morning. My sister was getting antsy but we got on the road by noon, picked up her girlfriend Pamela, an artist, and went to Onaping Falls, not far out of town in the woods. A.Y. Jackson painted a waterfalls scene there, which was later bought by a local high school, stolen, and never seen again. Too bad.

The location was a very Group of Sevenish northern scene, the pine and coniferous trees, some maples, lots of rock [the Canadian Shield] and a series of rapids, very nice. We followed the trail through the woods to the lookout points. Most of the leaves were on the ground, which breathed a natural earthy smell, the bittersweet decay of autumn. There was a light rain, making the rocks shiny and wet. It was cool, but not damp like in Toronto. The naked tree branches created a very stark, moody feel against the grey sky. It was very moving really, a vigorous hike. Back near the parking lot there was a collection of rocks mined from the area, some dating 1.5 billion years! Throughout the park there are meteorite craters in the rocks, from long, long ago. What history the park could tell!

One disappointing note. Graffitti has been written on many of the rocks along the rapids reading "Free Tibet". I don't care if I'm going to be political incorrect here or not. Its a total shame. IMHO whoever did that should be packed in an airtight case and sent to Tibet as a consequence. There is NO excuse for it.

After an early dinner, we went to the nursing home to visit mom, who was ready to go to bed. We had brought her a desert, sat with her in the dining room, talked for awhile, tucked her into bed and left. She was tired.

We are back at Maryanne's dickering about on our laptops, watching some t.v., and talking. She goes back to work tomorrow. I plan to take my time driving back to Toronto. There are a few roadside stops I'd like to make if the weather is good. Take some more pictures. I have taken a lot of pictures. Some I've put on this blog, others I am posting in the slide show above.

Sometimes though I just like to stand and look at the scenery, if it catches my interest. Drink it in with my eyes, feel it, smell it, just be here now. It becomes a snapshot for a photo book in my mind, which I always carry around with me, and can revisit, when I relax and close my eyes. I have lots of time to do that now. It is very peaceful, relaxing and I feel centred.

A few weeks ago I parked my car at a lot behind a store and noticed a field nearby. I walked out into the middle. The sun was shining down, nice and not too hot. I was looking at a tree that was just starting to change colour, at the edge of the leaves. A train came by on a track behind the woods. I could hear it, but only half see it through the trees. Then it was gone and everything was very still again. My cellphone rang, one of my teacher buddies looking for me. He asked what I was doing and when I told him he observed that I must be getting very bored being retired. I said no, not at all. I was actually quite enjoying myself. There has been so little time for such pleasures over the past few years, plus all the noise in my mind from politics and school. Not now.

I noticed my first guest blog for this week is in my email. Am going to see if I can get it up for tonight.

Oct. 17

 I awoke at 10 am, rather late, threw my belongings in the car and headed back south to Toronto. My sister was at work so we had said good bye the night before. On my way out of Sudbury I passed a packed schoolyard at recess. I felt very good. I don't have to go back to work. Put up with any idiot administrators, or be in a blue funk because my union has betrayed me and seems set to do so again, maybe worse?

It was grey and overcast most of the way home, not good for photographs, so I just enjoyed the scenery. Listened to Robert Johnson and Woody Guthrie on the car stereo. My first stop was the French River Trading Post for brunch, coffee and a toasted egg salad sandwich. I checked out the store, wasted some time, no hurry.

I drove straight through most of the road repair stops I got held up at on my way north. The huge Caterpillar bulldozers, diggers and trucks are clearing new highway lanes that have been blasted through the rock, leaving huge cliffs of Canadian shield on either side of the road. Very impressive.

The trees had more and more colourful leaves the further south I drove, starting in Muskoka until it was relatively minor just outside Barry. Shades of earthy brown, bright yellows, reds, a quilt work of many colours and shades. Rolling harvested farmers fields, huge outcrops of rock, the gray sky. I stopped in Parry Sound at Tim Hortons for a break, then one last time along the roadside to see if I could take some photos. Sorry folks, too overcast, they are just in my minds eye.

I am really enjoying autumn this year for the first time in longer than I can remember. Usually, they autumn has come to represent a rather sorry sight. The days growing shorter and shorter, my school and union work getting busier and busier. I know it will only continue, even more so, with the bitter cold and snow soon settling in, until the first real rays of hope, a light at the end of the tunnel, as the weather improved in April, the first indication that summer is coming soon. Now that I am retired, none of that suddenly matters. Stripped of its past connotations I have been quite enjoying autumn this year. The crisp cool bite in the air, the fall colours, everything.

I thought that I'd want to be headed off to warmer climes asap, but aside from my Cuban Schools Project trip to Santiago de Cuba next month, that can now wait until it gets real cold! Then I'm planning to just go lie on a tropical beach, swim, snorkel, dive and so on. The school calendar is now of little, nay of no concern to me.

I arrived back in Toronto amongst a mad downfall of rain. Pulled off highway 400 at Finch Ave West to take the backstreets home, avoiding the rush hour traffic. Quite content with my little road trip and travelling for now.


David C.

Monday 14 October 2013

The Free Richard Brock Petition Link Below!

[My Ontario Teacher + Union Acronym Guide list is @ Dictionary ]

Dear Readers!

Here is the first draft of the petition Pamela forwarded to my site. Many of you are still using it so I am restoring it to below the final petition, that now appears above, and is the one appearing on the website, for your convenience. Cheers!

To sign the Free Richard Brock Petition click HERE!

UPDATE: It is my understanding that your comments are instantly forwarded to OECTA Provincial when you sign the petition. Can you imagine the impact of them getting hundreds of these a day?!? Again, I urge you to share my link. Also, on the Guide Page it is explained how you can get your message to the media, and how to organize a "Phone Call a Day Campaign" through the site! All this and more @ Guide Page

More Petition Info Below:

We have a guest blog and petition being posted today as submitted by Pamela Spearns. The petition is very straightforward and anybody at OECTA can sign. OECTA members: It is your union! Be heard! Please sign the petition now! 

The link and preamble to the petition is provided directly above + also below my brief intro. In the blog that follows Pamela provides a thought provoking essay on OECTA and Democracy, to further develop the issues at stake for our OECTA members.

The reasons for the petition are also clearly summarized on where you can fill it out online and submit it instantly using the link I've provided here for your convenience. It will only take a minute of your time. You can also explain why this petition is important to you in the space provided! I myself noted it is important that OECTA demonstrate it's integrity and credibility by reinstating local Halton Elementary Richard Brock now! I'm sure you can choose your own words too.

We need as many members as possible to sign this petition in for it to have any impact before the November 6 OECTA COP [Council of Presidents] meeting! Please read, and sign!

SIGN HERE @ Free Richard Petition!
Here is the text of the petition. Pamela's OECTA + Democracy blog follows afterwards:

Petition To Reinstate Richard Brock As President Of The Halton Elementary Unit.

 Whether one supports or opposes OECTA’s MoU, one cannot deny that it has brought terrible dissension in its wake. This rancour and division has led directly to the removal of Richard Brock from office through procedures and processes that were unfair from start to finish. Below you can find a point form brief summary of the case.
  A petition is one of the increasingly limited democratic ways we can make member wishes known to Provincial OECTA.  It is our hope that teachers will embrace this opportunity to voice their dissatisfaction at the terrible injustice that has been inflicted upon our brother union member.
 I strongly urge all members to sign M2's  petition and let OECTA Provincial know that we all want OECTA to be a union that is a democracy, and a democracy that safeguards the interests and rights of all its members, including the rights of President Richard Brock, as it is mandated to do.

 Summary of the case of President Richard Brock
 As president of Halton Elementary he tried to defend his members and their death gratuity against the one size fits all brush of provincial bargaining enshrined in the MoU.

He was removed from office by an appointed discipline panel that was improperly constituted.
He has had all of his OECTA rights and privileges removed, yet he must still pay OECTA dues.

The discipline panel that heard the case refused to disclose their guidelines or manual to the defence.

The discipline panel refused to hear any of witnesses that Mr. Brock had available at the hearing. They were locked in a room and kept incommunicado.
 He was charged with “not promoting the interests of the Association” through his opposition to appending the MoU to the local contract, yet the OECTA publicly agreed with TSU and other units not to append the MoU.

The Provincial Executive never warned Mr. Brock that he was “not promoting the interests of the Association”; thus, he was charged and sentenced without receiving any cautions (contrary to the standards we demand of our employers).
 President Brock was not allowed to have legal counsel although his (25 year) lawfully elected position was at stake.

 The discipline board handed down a guilty verdict and imposed a punishment that is wildly disproportionate to the alleged offence
 How you can help.

We want to collect as many signatures on the petition as possible of people who like rule of law and due process in unions.
The petition at reads:                                      

 In response to OECTA’s wrongful dismissal of President Richard Brock of Halton, We, the undersigned Members of the Association, demand that President James Ryan and the Provincial Executive:  
 1. Restore Richard Brock as Halton Elementary Unit President, acknowledging that his “trial” lacked fairness, transparency, and due process; that the discipline board lacked the authority to try him; that our Association does not perpetuate, but instead fights, unfairness and inequality; that the moral responsibility to right injustices committed in the name of our Association rests with the Association.

 2. Undertake to govern our Association in accordance with the constitution of our Association, denying a rogue secretariat any opportunity to commandeer the discipline process without the sanction of the Provincial Executive.  Promote democracy, member rights and rule of law within OECTA.
 3. Respect the right to free speech of all members, protecting that right when any member voices their concerns about the direction of the Association.

 4. Commit publicly and unreservedly to treat all members fairly and with due process, undertaking a disciplinary process that exhibits transparency and impartiality; that embodies fairness and justice and that clearly demonstrates compliance with Canadian law.
 WE, the undersigned, petition the Executive of OECTA as follows:

Restore Richard Brock to his rightful legally elected position as President of Halton Elementary unit and cleanse all OECTA operations so that they comply with our Letters Patent, Handbook/Constitution and the Law of the Land.
 In a nutshell;

 In the rush to discipline Richard, due process was not followed. If the discipline committee was not properly constituted, it does not exist. Therefore their decision does not exist.

Don't forget: Please sign the Free Richard Brock Petition by clicking HERE!

 [ed] Pamela's blog on "OECTA and Democracy" follows below:

Communist Girls ARE More Fun!

Communist Girls ARE More Fun!
See below ...

Communist Girls Are More Fun #1

Communist Girls Are More Fun #1

Communist Grrrls are More Fun #2

Communist Grrrls are More Fun #2

Communist Grrrls Are More Fun #3

Communist Grrrls Are More Fun #3

Communist Girls Are More Fun #4

Communist Girls Are More Fun #4

Art at the Paris Louvre: What does it mean?!?

Art at the Paris Louvre: What does it mean?!?
A careful analytical study!

Help! I Have No Arms!

Help! I Have No Arms!
Please scratch my back.

I can't find my underwear!.

I can't find my underwear!.
Have you seen them!

Weee! I can fly!

Weee! I can fly!
Look! I can crawl thru walls!

I have a headache!

I have a headache!
And a broken nose.

I have a square hole in my bum!

I have a square hole in my bum!

Here try this, it's very good!

Here try this, it's very good!
No. You have a bird face.

I have an ugly baby!

I have an ugly baby!
No I'm not!

Let's save all our money + buy pants!

Let's save all our money + buy pants!
OK but I need a new hand too!

Oh no! I got something in my eye!

Oh no! I got something in my eye!

You don't look well.

You don't look well.
No. My head hurts +I have a sore chest.

Would you like a bun?

Would you like a bun?

Chichen-Itza: Lost Maya City of Ruins!

Chichen-Itza: Lost Maya City of Ruins!
The Temple of Kukulkan!

Gotta love it!

Gotta love it!
Truly amazing!

Under Reconstruction!

Under Reconstruction!

Temples + Snakes!

Temples + Snakes!

The Snake!

The Snake!
It runs the length of the ball field!