Opening Statement



Thursday, 20 March 2014

A Visit to Queens Park!

My Teacher + Union Acronym Guide is Here!

Yesterday was cold, wet and gray. It was also the last day of winter. Very fitting. A slight warming snap has resulted in patches of hard black ice among the big puddles at the corner of College St. and University Avenue. The trees, brushes, sidewalks and roadways to Toronto's Queens Park [QP] legislature are gritty with the winter debris. 



I caught a ride downtown with Janet on her way to work to visit the legislature for the first visit since I retired from teaching and my union executive last July. Arriving early I grabbed a coffee at the crowded Tim Horton's on the corner, and checked my email, with an eye on the clock. I headed over to the legislature for Question Period at 10:30, and the Bill 122 Standing Committee at 12 noon, both resuming this week after March Break.

My purpose was pretty straight forward. I like to check things out for myself in person to catch the flavour of the moment. Helps me put what I hear and read in a more accurate perspective. I think so. Not scientific, I know, but I will be back later, to get a better sense over time. Anyway this is what I saw and heard. 

I got an invite so I could sit on the floor in the members gallery, rather than up in the rafters on the nose bleed observation deck, so to speak. It was packed with visitors, mostly from community housing and the banking co-ops. I was squeezed into the opposition side, which as always was an unusual, rather awkward mix of staid Tory supporters and NDP activists. Folks look uneasily at each other out of the corner of the eye not quite sure what to say. 



We were introduced to the house, as is the custom, at the beginning of question period, myself as a retired teacher. I was surprised Premier Wynne still recognized me. There was some polite applause, as for the other guests, mine from the OLP and NDP seats. A single clap, once, from a PC member. Ha. 

Hudak began with a fierce if not rather incredulous denunciation of the Liberals lack of a spring budget, while he touted his "million jobs promise", which he asked the premier to adopt. Much guffaws and laughs ensued from both the OLP and NDP benches with one Dipper [NDP'er] calling it the "Austin Powers Plan" which amused half the members gallery to no end, the others not. A guard walked over to tell us that no clapping is allowed. He would return later to wake up the older women sitting beside me and remind her that no snoozing is permitted either, after she had dozed off for a bit, a rather embarrassing + unnecessary gesture I should think. 

She could well be excused for falling asleep simply due to the lack of any real discussion or debate on the floor. NDP Party leader Andrea Horwath was drilling the Liberals on Go Transit. Necessary no doubt for commuters but low key enough that she, like Tim, was soon off and about traversing the floor, heading in and out of the assembly. Both separately visited the members gallery to introduce and greet everybody to surprisingly polite indifference. The dark bags under Timbo's eyes as they darted fugitively around at us were particularly noticable. Basically it seemed like the floor and the galleries were still shaking off the March break political slumber as the house slowly turned its mind again to the business ahead.

The level of discussion and debate was regrettably base and mundane, more so just catcalling and much insults, a loud cacophony such that I usually had to lean forward to hear. The Speaker frequently stood to quiet everybody down with a stern rather toothless reprimand to pay attention or else, sort of like being in school these days. The MPP's would fall silent for a moment until he sat back down, then carry on business or the lack thereof as usual. A real mad chatter's tea party. It is too bad this is what now passes for the business of government in Ontario: blandishments, toadying, posturing, shallow + rather dubious outrage, the rubber stamping of decisions that have all ready obviously been formulated or are being formulated elsewhere with everybody just following the script. Think of our teacher union AGM's as of late and you will get the picture. 



As the legislature recessed for lunch I made my way down to Room 1 on the main floor, west wing to observe the Standing Committee on Bill 122, the School Board Collective Bargaining Act, 2014. I took my time to check out the paintings, artwork, displays and archaic architecture inside our Ontario legislature building. I was told by a security guard that I couldn't listen in on a news scrum because I didn't have a media badge. Also that I couldn't dawdle and look around unless I was on a tour. I was polite but just carried on my merry way. Let's face it, I'm an ornery old white haired retired school teacher, for all intent purposes of little possible threat to law and order here in the seat of government, among the sea of suits and figures of great import strutting about like they got a pickle up their butt. Absurd!

It is regrettable that the Ontario legislature has become so uptight and anal. I can recall it getting like this during the Harris Years, but being much more relaxed over the past ten years or so. After all, it is our citizens assembly. I suppose security is paramount, but one has to wonder, who is this show all for? Maybe not just the average constituents anymore? 

I saw Andrea Horwath standing in the second floor upper foyer with one of her aids, so ambled over to greet her. She was polite, much more unassuming than most of the others I took time to talk to. She noted that the NDP are working on some amendments to Bill 122 and realized how important this was to teachers. I wished her luck if there's a spring election though I kind of hope there isn't one, more on this later.

I sat among the media seats in the committee room. Half of the members were present, the rest conspicuous by their absence. I saw a fair number of labour union types and reporters listening in taking copious notes. Some I recognized, others not but one usually pretty much always runs into the same crowd at these sort of affairs, be it at the Ontario Labour Relation Board, QP or so on. 



The Conservative member rambled on about how disappointed he was that so little time was being spent reviewing Bill 122 clause by clause. By golly now, March break is over and they've hardly got started. He was adamant that the Bill had to be amended to make sure extracurriculars were included in the Bill, so that they wouldn't be interrupted again by teacher "collective bargaining". He then stuffed his face with a sandwich while his Tory partner carried on the lament and wanted to know if the OLRB hearings on teacher extracurriculars had been examined. [ETFO at he OLRB? See Related Readings below] When the chair decided to call a vote on the clause he requested a committee break, 40 minutes into the first meeting in a couple of weeks. As the committee dispersed into the corridors I approached the NDP's Peter Tabun to ask if he would be speaking today. He was affable, confirmed that he had a few amendments he wanted to make. Didn't know when. The committee was supposed to have met during March break. He claimed he came each day, but since the Conservative members were absent, the committee couldn't proceed. So much for their outrage. 

Well my colleagues, I figured I'd had enough for one day. Headed upstairs to the offices to get my coat and bag, say good bye, then headed downtown for lunch, some window shopping and to meet Janet after work, my day's business done. 

Take from my report what you will, I think it is safe to say QP is off to a slow, languid start for the spring session with little if any strong hint of anything much in the air as of yet.


Here's some of my thoughts on a possible spring election, the big issue if there are any at present clearly hanging in the musty QP air. If today was any indicator, and I would be rather wary after just one visit, the house seemed very lethargic. It's just going through the motions awaiting the Liberal spring budget. As we know it will then basically be up to the NDP to roll the dice by supporting it or not. I would suppose they will ask for a number of concessions, which Premier Wynne would be well advised to heed. Here's how I see it:

Check my Teacher News + Views blogs from January through March of this year, even further back. The polling has suggested that none of the parties is headed for a clear majority. I don't think I'd like to see anyone win one either. This is my prejudice, but over the years no "winner take all" provincial government be it OLP, NDP or PC has served us well. 

We have suffered from OLP MOU's and Bill 115, the misnamed PC "Common Sense Revoluton", and even the NDP Social Contract and Rae Days.  In a majority government situation there are few checks and balances to restrain the worst excesses of any powers that be. 

Minority coalition governments are NOT uncommon in a parliamentary democracy, and perhaps even better serve to make sure they remain just that; democratic and accountable to all of the body politic. But an election right now? On balance: The OLP badly need a party housecleaning. The NDP might even lose some seats by the latest counts despite Horwath's admirable efforts. Hudak is just a plain evil and mean spirited man. Should he even form a minority government, the most likely scenario right now it would seem, he takes over the QP agenda and we are headed for a very rough ride ahead indeed.



I've inquired a fair bit, and although nobody will publicly say so, the OLP and the NDP would form a coalition government to deny him this possibility. I liked the OLP NDP coalition government in the late 1980's. It had a sense of checks and balances, and brought out the best in both parties. The NDP now needs to consolidate its gains and demonstrate its potential to govern. Wynne could well use an opportunity to shake up the party, lose the right leaning deadbeats and any others with a sense of entitlement, to firmly take the reins in her own rite. Would Hudak survive another defeat? I think not. Still, a coalition government denying the PC's a minority win could provide a lot of fodder for the mean machine and not turn out to be a very popular move indeed.

Of course, in the roll of the election dice any outcome is possible, even an upset. Quite frankly I don't see any of the parties well prepared for an unexpected majority win except for Hudak's PC loyalists, and we know what that means. Better the three parties work with what they now have at Queens Park, nay work to make it work, until the current term of government runs its course. Then lets see what they can do. Anything else right now would be a reckless political gamble during such a period of political, and economic uncertainty. Better to hold off on a spring election. If by next year we still face a minority coalition government, then so be it. We shouldn't expect a majority government scenario to be in our best interests as teachers, or as just plain citizenry anyway. 

I'll probably return to QP before long to take another reading as the political climate, and indeed the weather heats up in the spring daze ahead. Hope this is of some help.

RELATED READS:

A Teacher's Study Guide to Bill 122 is @ This link!

ETFO's OLRB Extracurricular hearing is @ Here and Here and Here and Here and There!



COMMENTS

36 comments:

Anonymous said...

I hope it is appropriate to comment here ....

Word comes today that OECTA is releasing a confidential forensic audit to the entire membership of the HEU today or early next week. Those who are members of OECTA may see the document which was prepared by a professional accounting firm.

I do not believe that David is a member of OECTA and therefore cannot be privy to the information contained therein. However, I would encourage commentary from members of the HEU via Mr. Chiarelli's blog. Perhaps a new area could be created for such discussion.

Please keep in mind that, according to the HEU membership, the audit is quite specific in outlining inappropriate financial practices within the Unit.

Clearly, Mr. Brock has not been charged with a crime or found guilty of any wrongdoing, but that may come!

Sincerely,

Candy O

David Chiarelli said...

Information shared with tens of thousands of people will not remain confidential for long. This blogsite has always republished info that can be found in the public domain. Thanks!

David Chiarelli said...

Anonymous info does not suffice. Of course one is also assuming this is a a forensic audit from OECTA which I understand it is not.

Anonymous said...

The Tories are running a filibuster on Bill 122. They want teachers declared an essential service and all voluntary activities made mandatory. They clearly intend to play Russian Roulette with the educational system yet again!

Ms. Chievous said...

I find it disgusting that people like Candy O and other sycophantic OECTA union hacks (especially those dependant on OECTA provincial lawyers-aka us and our $$$$- to repeatedly bail their incompetent, unprofessional, and in some cases, criminal A$$es out),are investing so much time and energy in besmirching and outright libeling Richard Brock. They do so to gain brownie points with Provincial to ensure that they continue to be counted among the chosen few that OECTA actually "protects". The big joke among competent, professional teachers is that those who need OECTA the most protect it the most.

That said, while those among us, who most of our colleagues are embarassed to be lumped in with, are in a frenzied state to bad mouth Brock in a desperate attempt to sway any non independant thinkers they can, OECTA provincial is scurrying around like rats on a sinking ship, trying to scrounge up any morsel of proof to support their unacceptable and clearly unfounded dismissal of Brock. Hence Candy O's comment, "Clearly, Mr. Brock has not been charged with a crime or found guilty of any wrongdoing, but that may come!" So might the the Mother Ship. And if it does, I pray to God that Candy O and her cohorts climb aboard and leave earth to those of us grounded firmly in reality.

Thank God for blogs like this where the truth can be spoken and the facts can be presented and considered by the silent majority of teachers, who are as intelligent as they are educated, without the undue influence of OECTA's typical manipulative and threatening MO of covertly constructing realty.

“Lord, what fools these mortals be!”
― William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night's Dream

Anonymous said...

Reprisals against units like Halton are illegal under the OLRA. Harrassment of the unit would likely be considered a reprisal!

Anonymous said...

Everyone thinks that Candy or Cindy O is Jarvis. That is why it is ok to make nasty comments to him. Remember he (Cindy) said that 800 people voting in an AGM was "anarchy" earlier.....

David Chiarelli said...

Hmmm. No I don't think its MJ. There has been a lot of other speculation too. BTAIM, I am not posting any nasty Comments of a personal nature against anyone. I've had to withhold two in so many days. We without doubt get into some interesting heated topics, that's challenging + good but please, let's be respectful. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I don't know who Candy O or Cindy O is but why is it that when someone has a contrary opinion they are treated as though they are treacherous?

Anonymous said...

Reprisals against units not allowed under the Ontario Labour Relations Act? Section of Act please and email it to Provincial.

Anonymous said...

Why are we disgreeing? The facts are the facts. Most teachers were okay with lost wages, lost sick days, lost gratuity and no pay raise. OECTA voted yes- yes teachers you did vote yes. OSSTF voted yes because their jock straps got itchy (can't wait to get back to extras). ETFO caved (we'll get our 2 % back and we have the Charter Challenge and oh yea- Good Will) 91% accepted the garbage. There's nothing to fight about. At least we have a job right! Shame on all teachers and unions. We had a chance to change the course for teachers. We capitulated as we always do. Grow some walnuts please. Stand up to the bully. Firefighters and police have and they are passing us.

Anonymous said...

Why are firefighters and police willing to fight back and stand up?????

Anonymous said...

Mr. Chiarelli mentioned that he did not want to have any nasty personal comments on this blog and I agree. With this in mind, I will forgive Ms.Chievous' remarks directed at myself and others, in her above comment.

Rather, I would prefer to see the positive aspects of our union. But realize, that to prosper, we must begin at the grass roots level. If we do not have honesty, integrity, accountability, transparency, and trust in our local units, how do we move forward?

For those who would complain, yes teachers do have some history of capitulating; perhaps it's in our genes or maybe it's because we are such a large and visible target. But we also have enjoyed times of good fortune and the enhancement of our collective agreements. It behooves Ms. Chievous and her ilk to admit that their vitriol is misguided and misdirected; she benefits from OECTA in many ways, as we all do, and if her anger is a result of the MOU, it needs to be directed specifically. I agree with David here. Lets be respectful and mature. The facts can speak for themselves.

Speaking of which, I wonder if Mr. Chiarelli has been privy to the recently released forensic audit of the HEU. I am told that it is now available to OECTA members and makes a very interesting read. Would Mr. Chiarelli consider posting that document for the sake of openness and clarity, one wonders?

And by the way, Dear Ms. Chievous, this Bard's for you!

"No legacy is so rich as Honesty"

William Shakespeare, All's Well That Ends Well

Ms. Chievous said...

Walnuts? Baby steps........I'd be encouraged if teachers grew some hazelnuts!

Ms. Chievous said...

800 people voting on anything is Anarchy-just ask Castro and Putin!

David Chiarelli said...

Hello Readers!

If you look carefully you will note that what you have been receiving at HEU is not an actual Forensic Audit. It is incomplete and it's unclear who is behind it's release and why. I will consider publishing the completed official audit when it's finished and the source is properly identified.

Please note that this is also a separate issue from the Discipline Panel Committee and the unit MOU concerns after July 5th 2012. Nowhere was it mentioned. It's unclear why it is being thrown into the mix at this point in time. I would suggest that you try to find out who authorized its release in the meantime, and if the accounting firm is aware that what you have is being circulated in your unit on its company letterhead to your members and for what purpose.

You've certainly got your hands full and the anger is quite palpable.

Regret I can't be of more assistance at this point in time.

David C

David Chiarelli said...

Ms C: Even some peanuts might be a good start!

Ms. Chievous said...

David,

Peanuts will work-Anything over the typical apathy and scorned children MO is an improvement!

Thank you for cutting through all of the rhetoric and speaking the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

"The trust of the innocent is the liar's most useful tool."
STEPHEN KING, Needful Things

Anonymous said...

Some sign of life and interest in their own union (that they are paying dues for) would be definite plus.

Anonymous said...

Ontario Labour Relations Act
87. (2) No trade union, council of trade unions or person acting on behalf of a trade union or council of trade unions shall,

(a) discriminate against a person in regard to employment or a term or condition of employment; or

(b) intimidate or coerce or impose a pecuniary or other penalty on a person,

because of a belief that the person may testify in a proceeding under this Act or because the person has made or is about to make a disclosure that may be required in a proceeding under this Act or because the person has made an application or filed a complaint under this Act or has participated in or is about to participate in a proceeding under this Act. R.S.O. 1990, c. L.2, s. 82; 1995, c. 1, Sched., s. 87, in force November 10, 1995 (R.A.).

Anonymous said...

I think that these sections of the OLRA apply to what is going on with President Richard Brock and Halton unit.

Section 46 and 47 OLRA
Interference with the local trade union

149. (1) A parent trade union or a council of trade unions shall not, without just cause, assume supervision or control of or otherwise interfere with a local trade union directly or indirectly in such a way that the autonomy of the local trade union is affected.

Same, officials and members

(2) A parent trade union or a council of trade unions shall not, without just cause, remove from office, change the duties of an elected or appointed official of a local trade union or impose a penalty on such an official or on a member of a local trade union.

David Chiarelli said...

Also see my Feb 1 2014 blog on the case of the union president who was reinstated by an Ontario superior Court because proper procedures weren't followed

David Chiarelli said...

Also the March 4 letter to OECTA from the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. Too bad AGM only decided to refer the issues to a committee for a report next year. It has become a tragic case of extreme portions.

David Chiarelli said...

Also the December 13 2013 guest blog with a very long list of questions for provincial about the Brock case which has never been answered.

Ms. Chievous said...

Dear Anonymous,

Please explain how I have "benefitted" from OECTA. Like many teachers who are highly educated with a vast skill set, I had and continue to have many options when it comes to how I earn a living. I choose to teach because I love what I do. It sure ain't for the money. OECTA plays no role in that. In fact, I would argue that being represented by a Union rather than a professional organization has hurt the perception of my profession immensely.

We should be aligning ourselves with other university educated professionals like Doctors and Chartered Accountants, not Trade Unions. And if not, then at least have the decency to allow me to join a real Union with powerful labour leaders like Buzz Hargrove who actually know how to negotiate.

'Glorify a lie, legalize a lie, arm and equip a lie, consecrate a lie with solemn forms and awful penalties, and after all it is nothing but a lie. It rots a land and corrupts a people like any other lie, and by and by the white light of God's truth shines clear through it, and shows it to be a lie."
E. H. CHAPIN, Living Words

Anonymous said...

The reason that the firefighters and police did well is that they have leaders that are clearly committed to protecting their rights and interests. We apparently have no leaders with this intent!

Anonymous said...

Ignoring sides, local vs. provincial, what has become clear in Halton and other units is that there needs to be a term limit of two terms for how long someone can be Unit President.

Two terms would be four years.

Directors are hired this way now for four years. York and other units have term limits on their unit presidents. This is healthy and needs to be part of unit bylaws everywhere.

Halton members need to demand that their current unit president and current unit executive members put a two term, four year limit, into their unit bylaws. NOW is the time to ensure this bylaw change happens before the unit elections.

Kate Tagseth said...

"It is too bad this is what now passes for the business of government in Ontario: blandishments, toadying, posturing, shallow + rather dubious outrage, the rubber stamping of decisions that have all ready obviously been formulated or are being formulated elsewhere with everybody just following the script. Think of our teacher union AGM's as of late and you will get the picture."

My thoughts exactly. It seems that the Hudak plan of R2WFL is upon us without the option of cancelling payment of union dues. Sad state of affairs when so many are of the view that our union, that we pay for, has capitulated for its own reasons, and at our extensive expense, and there has been so little outrage. Seems the "fighters" have retired or have been effectively muzzled, and there is really not much left. The OECTA I used to know has quietly died and no one even showed up at the funeral. . .

While we were strenuously told at the AGM the terrors of the Hudak R2WFL agenda, it seems our own union has failed to recognize the effects of the OECTA MOU are exactly that: We are all working for less; local agreements had more cuts; and the two unpaid days came after. It's death by a thousand cuts and no one seems angry enough to notice. . . The OECTA MOU is a living example of what life under the Hudak R2WFL would be. . . Perhaps the ability to opt out of a union or to choose your union might get the attention of the PE such that they would listen to the membership. A four year term might be just what the doctor ordered. . . The next round of bargaining will be telling. . .

I suggest everyone read their previous collective agreements and compare them to the current; only then might it instill enough concern when people will see what has been lost. . . beyond the sick leave, gratuity, and benefits, there has been a change at local levels as well. . .

In response to one post, the limit on terms might pose a problem in some units due to the apathy of the membership. People aren't lining up to take on the executive positions. Often what you get is the disgruntled "axe to grind" types, or worse, the principals in waiting type who have no intention of staying with the union. Those in the latter category don't need limits; they're gone before they start. However limiting terms could hamstring a unit into getting executives with no history in the unit. That would be a loss.

Finally, Thanks for the post, David. I hope Andrea is paying attention to the needs of workers. The next election is definitely hers to lose.

Ms. Chievous said...

Why limit the number of terms? Members already have they power via their vote. If they are unhappy, vote out the old and vote in the new. That's how democracy works.

That said, any unit would be hard pressed to find a President like Brock who has dedicated more than a quarter century protecting his teachers-24 hours a day-7 days a week. That dedication and committment are the reasons that he has not been voted out. It's ironic that none of that seems to matter to Provincial........

Anonymous said...

It's a wonder anyone runs for their unit executive anymore. Non-stop meetings and hassle for zero pay at least in our unit. Can a union that did not allow its members to vote on the MOU and its biggest contract strips ever truly survive?

Anonymous said...

Dear David,

How does a unit member introduce a bylaw to get terms changed for length of president??

Sincerely, Fed UPPER

David Chiarelli said...

You would need to put a motion in at your unit AGM. These are usually in the spring. You also need to get members out to discuss and vote. Hope this helps.

Anonymous said...

Dear Ms.

Why does Mr. Brock not come on this blog and defend himself? We would love to hear from him! BTW look at your history ...A long tenure does not a superb president make. Let's see .... Mao, Stalin, Saddam Hussein, Pol Pot, Hitler, Idi Amin, Ivan the Terrible, Papa Doc Duvalier, Gaddafi, Genghis Khan, Nero, Ivan IV, Franco .... shall we continue?

Yes, the point is well made. WE NEED LIMITS ON POWER AND LIMITS ON TERMS.

And Ms., put your email up and I will gladly provide you with a copy of the audit! Do you want the annotated version or the plain?

Yours in solidarity,
Michael Jennings

Anonymous said...

Dear David,

No matter how much you support him, Brock will NEVER be back. We will make damn sure of that!

Member of Halton OECTA

David Chiarelli said...

Please see my Comments above.

Ms. Chievous said...

Michael,

Comments like yours, further support the legal argument that OECTA's actions against Mr. Brock are malicious in nature, motivated by a baseless character assassination rather than rooted in justice.

I do agree with your point that we need limits on power......let's start with OECTA's GS.

"Nobody speaks the truth when there's something they must have." Elizabeth Bowen

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