Here's my 2 bits minus twenty cents! Have your say using the Comment link below!
The outcome will be especially important for our teacher unions! If a spring election is called we face some very difficult considerations. The OLP has imposed a highly controversial provincial contract on us that will expire August 30 2014. OECTA [Ontario English catholic Teachers Association] + OSSTF [Ontario Secondary School Teacher Federation] have ratified agreements until then. ETFO [Elementary Teacher Federation of Ontario] is still in talks with the Ministry of Education [MOE]. All three parties have confirmed they are "collaborating" with the Liberal MOE in setting up a collective bargain process for the next contract with the OLP. The bargaining process, or lack thereof to date, has been very controversial at best and has seriously undermined the strong relationships the unions have had with the OLP since we first helped them defeat the PC government in the 2003 election.
Tim Hudak's PC have threatened so called American style Right to Work legislation and other strongly anti union reforms should they be elected. Considering the very difficult times our teacher unions + organized labour had with the previous Harris + Eves PC governments before their 2003 defeat, there is no reason to doubt the PC's ill intentions.
Andrea Horwath's NDP has spoken out + voted against the OLP's imposition of the 2013-14 contract terms upon the teacher unions, especially with Bill 115, which overrode and altered the Ontario Labour Relations Act on Jan.1st 2013. As a third party the NDP have supported the teacher unions in word, which comes without immediate cost or proof. Like both the OLP + PC's the party has been known to attack our union collective bargaining + agreement process when in government. It should be noted that was during the early 1990's NDP Rae government. Since then they have been so far remained in 3rd party position at QP.
Bill 115 has been repealed, and Ontario has had a new OLP Premier and Education Minister since after the Jan. 2013 OLP Leadership Convention. Although the Wynne government has attempted to re-establish their relationship with the teacher unions it is very doubtful how much the members, if not the leadership, will want to endorse or support the OLP candidates should we have a spring election. Although some modifications of the imposed teacher contract terms were made, the OLP has not significantly changed them under the Wynne government.
Our teacher unions could well face some very difficult decisions in the week and month ahead. If an election results because of a non confidence vote at QP over the budget, who will we then support? Besides the usual party allegiance disputes we are now faced with a very difficult, if perhaps insurmountable strategic dilemma, to protect our interests.
The polling numbers have suggested everything from a dead heat to a continuing very volatile election scenario. In Ontario we have a first past the post election process. Although a party might have the largest number of voters, or popular support, that does not necessarily translate into the same percentage of seat wins at QP.
Should the teachers on principle refuse to endorse or support any OLP candidates we could as a result enable a PC election win. It remains unlikely at present that the NDP could win enough seats at QP to hold off a Conservative minority or majority government, let alone win one of their own.
However in supporting the OLP our teachers would be endorsing the party which turned on us in an attack on our union rights, based upon a promise and a hope for better relations ahead. Complicate that with possible widespread member disillusionment, apathy +/or dissent it also becomes questionable how or even if the leadership of our affiliate unions will be able to rally our member support to follow their lead, should this be the track they wish to take.
We will watch with great interest the developments over the next week! In principle it would seem clear to me that we should support the NDP. However, one fears that we could end up in a dire situation like during the 1995 provincial election when the anti teacher PC Harris party formed a majority government and held onto power with much grief for us for the next 7 years. If you will recall, our teacher unions withheld support for the NDP, helping to lead to their defeat, and hence delivered our members into the hands of a very hostile PC government. How ironic if in spring 2013 we should do the same again due to our without doubt well deserved distaste for the OLP instead. What to do?
My best case scenario would be for the budget to pass, with the NDP clauses included, so that all three parties will need to try to make the current minority government situation work. A minority government, although unusual in Ontario, is often a routine arrangement in many other parliamentary democracies such as ours.
Perhaps without a clear mandate, the parties might find it hard to rule as they would often like. However we would have a sense of parliamentary balance; a give and take, that is often lacking in a winner take all win situation. We face very difficult decisions and times in Ontario. Given time hopefully more reason will prevail. The course of parliamentary events will continue to unfold. Our, as well as all of Ontarios decision on which party candiates to vote for will be more clear and easier to make.
Latest Pre Budget News
Latest Forum Poll shows PC's and now OLP tied at 36%, the NDP slipping at 24%. Last weeks Ipso Reid Poll [see my April Digest 3 blog] showed the PC's leap ahead of the pack with a significant 9% lead. The OLP has tied them again, at the cost of an NDP drop in the latest poll. 55% of the 1133 polled don't want an election. The projected seat count as quoted, would be OLP at 59 seats, the PC's at 38, and the NDP with 10. Musical chairs anyone? The poll is considered accurate 19 times out of 20 times. See @ Forum Poll
Toronto Star to the OLP's rescue? 3 big stories today!
Wynne's budget gambit: The OLP is slowly releasing budget details ahead of May 2 to build consensus and perhaps put Andrea on the spot if she won't support it @ Gamble?
The big name pundits gaze into the crystal budget ball @ Tell us Swami! What do you see???
OLP seem ready to "target "insurance cut of 15% in budget to appease NDP, but will it be enough @ rather vague?
The budget leaks continue to sprout with support 4 the arts @ Leak or a flood?
The OLP Toronto Star Machine salivates for Wynne: The party gets three lead stories today. Here the focus is on women in leadership via the Council of Women. In a twist on the kissing babies routine Wynne gushes over a little girl who wants to grow up to be premier some day. Course Andrea's a woman leader too but no mention. See @ Wynne on Council
Early PC non confidence "gas plant" votes? The PC's are playing politics with a non confidence vote ahead of the budget that they have all ready said they won't support without even seeing it. Wynne's face gets rubbed in the scandal to remind everyone of the McGuinty years, while Andrea is accused of "supporting corruption". Here's one article @ Tim Bits
Some major gas pains: Wynne is on the hearing committee hot seat @ OLP pain in the butt
Toronto Star shows "balance" by giving Wynne's testimony on the gas plant committee hearing a thumbs down @ Leadership?
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford + his right wing city council brother + minions speak out some something they are expert at, being disgusting, as they join in the PC chorus denouncing the gas plant scandal @
Liberal loss of moral authority lamented by Mr. Say + Do Anything to win PC party leader Tim Hudak @ OLP Debacle
The NDP's Andrea Horwath has been awfully quiet this week. I am not providing relevant news links 4 lack of trying. Still let's hope she's storing up all her political gun powder for the budget fight ahead rather than wasting it on all this dumb pre budget political posturing ...
Also see my April Digest 3 below for news links to these + other current stories for now! I'll start a new digest later this week.