Opening Statement

Tuesday 26 April 2016

On Bill 115: Glitches in the Matrix!

  My Blog Acronym Guide is @ Here! 

During the past week we have been treated to a virtual "April shower" of glitches in the old news "Matrix" of the mainstream media. It's also sometimes readily apparent in our teacher and education worker union missives. Little irregularities occur daily, like silences that are almost deafening. Like rips in the news fabric of media lies, revealing fleeting glimpses of the usually inconvenient and forbidden truths that are left out, that we are not told. Suggesting so much more than what we otherwise know about our once robust union movement, and those who govern us in the province of Ontario.

The Supreme Court of Ontario has ruled in favour of CUPE, ETFO and OSSTF; our provinces teacher and education worker unions, in their Bill 115 Charter Challenge! [PDF] The Ontario Liberal government did in fact violate our Charter Rights to fairly negotiate a Collective Agreement by imposing the "Putting Students First Act" aka "The OECTA Road Map" on negotiations during August 2012. [LINK]

The first, most obvious glitch in the Matrix is glaringly obvious! It's hidden in the media's shamelessly muted response in reporting the verdict. Compare that to all of their ferocious, teacher bashing back in 2012-13! Alas! Now that our teacher and education workers' "outrageous" claims of injustice have been confirmed, the news story follow up is mostly conspicuous by it's absence. It's hardly the top mainstream news story of the day! Far from it!

A possibly even bigger news story still lies ahead! Hopefully, it will be one they cannot ignore! CUPE, ETFO and OSSTF have been directed by the judge to reach a "remedy" to the incurred injustices or one will be decided by the court. It will be very interesting to see how much real fight our union leadership still has in them! 

Rumours are that at the very least our front line teachers and education workers will want their "sick day plans" restored. Some are even insisting that should just be the starting point. However, others doubt that the "leadership" can even muster enough fight and resolve for that! And so we watch with bated breath for another glitch in the Matrix to tip the hat to their true intent as our often secretive leaders prepare their demands under the blaring glaze of public scrutiny!

The biggest glitch in the Matrix has without doubt been at OECTA Provincial. We still await an official response as I post this blog. The OECTA members have been advised that OECTA's legal team is looking into the matter. The silence speaks louder than words!

OECTA's name is definitely mud for our Ontario union movement! How deep the shit goes still remains hidden under the infamous OECTA Code of Silence! Who knows? Do they have any legal liability for any of their questionable actions during 2012-13 due to the court decision? Will they benefit from the "remedy" too! One highly doubts they will ever be able to wipe the dirty sheets clean again!

Not only did the Ontario Liberals use OECTA's July 2012 MOU as the Road Map for the contract agreements they insisted upon in Bill 115! [LINKThe Catholic teacher affiliate was also not party to the CUPE, ETFO and OSSTF Charter Challenge! [LINK] Bill 115 was even invoked during a December 2012 hearing against OECTA dissident members [LINK], including Halton [LINKand Sudbury Elementary [LINK] units and the Metro 7 [LINKin their failed OLRB MOU challenge at the time! [LINK][LINK]

Indeed, disturbing questions continue to swirl around the fate of now, long gone OECTA dissidents such as Halton's controversial President Richard "Bad Boy" Brock [LINK] [LINK]. Later removed from office in his "fight for fair representation" by a controversial, appointed OECTA Disciplinary Committee [LINK], Richard has no doubt been to hell and back a few times. [LINK] Are he and his passionate arguments for union justice to remain clouded over and publicly unaddressed too? Will the complete story of what's happened to OECTA's Richard "Bad Boy" Brock remain hidden in a virtual Catholic union limbo? Under an OECTA veil of lurid intrigue? [LINK]

In the movie version of the "Matrix", the hero Neo is confronted with two choices in approaching the true reality of the world in which he lives. Neo can either take the blue pill or a red one. With the first he will fall asleep and awake none the wiser that the Matrix even exists. He can continue to live in a fantasy world about what is going on all around us until it totally consumes him. With the other, he will go down a rabbit hole into the Matrix to discover the truth. 

Unfortunately, the truth is not easy to digest and live with, nor is it certain that he will ever be free from being used and abused, much like we are, either under the Liberal government, or even quite possibly, in some cases, even under our own union leadership!

Readers who are interested in bravely going down the rabbit hole to better discover the complete truth, whatever it might turn out to be are directed to my Teacher Free Speech News Archives 2011-16. [LINK] Here are the actual news links to what happened at the time for your reference and erudition. To truly understand where we are at, and where we are headed, it's down the rabbit hole we must go!

Your attention is directed to OECTA MOU Agreement in July 2012 [LINK], the AEFO MOU [LINK] and the passing of Bill 115 in August [LINK], the Bill 115 Charter Challenge in October [LINK], the OECTA OLRB MOU challenge beginning in December [LINK] and the OLP Leadership Convention in January 2013 [LINK]. Teacher work actions continued throughout the winter into Spring 2013 when CUPE, ETFO and OSSTF ratified their agreements [CUPE][OSSTF] [ETFO]. There are also ALOT more archive links for you to study and consider carefully around these "marker" dates, as we watch for the Bill 115 debacle unravel further in the days and weeks ahead!

Should you choose otherwise, thinking ignorance is bliss, don't complain in the daze ahead as you become but more fuel for the voracious unquenchable appetite of the Neo Lib Union Agenda in the province of Ontario! [LINK]

The latest Bill 115 news links are included in my Teacher Free Speech April News and Views blog @ HERE!

My Blogsite Manifesto: On Teacher Free Speech + Grass Root Renewal @ HERE!

OECTA: Manufacturing Consent: My POV on what's gone wrong is @ HERE!

Why You Need a Union; a good one that serves you is explained @ HERE!

Guest Blogs are also most welcome! More details are @ THERE!

Your Comments are welcome below! 

Hope to see you at the deep, dark bottom of the Matrix rabbit hole of Bill 115! Let the truth and justice prevail! 

In solidarity!

David Chiarelli

PS: The final tip of the hat goes to Richard who called it back on Oct 24, 2012 @ IFP.CA
“We feel that the whole MOU and MOU process is unconstitutional within OECTA in terms of our own handbook and bylaws. And in terms of Bill-115, it too is unconstitutional in terms of its grab on local agreements,” said Richard Brock, president of OECTA’s Halton Elementary Unit.
He said there were three rounds of negotiations provincially, the first two being at the provincial discussion tables (PDT), each of which was ratified by the local membership. However, he the local membership and presidents were not consulted and never voted on the MOU before the agreement was signed.
“They totally snatched away items out of our local agreements that we’ve bargained long and hard for,” he said. Brock has been the local president for 25 years.
“A number of items that were clearly removed from our local agreement were items that I personally and my members in general have fought very hard to get into our agreement and have nothing to do even with the government’s initial PDT proposal back in February.” 


Tuesday 19 April 2016

PM Trudeau -Leadership in Action?

Pictures, edit + slideshow to follow!

What was Toronto's big news story last night? As far as the mainstream media is concerned? It was downtown at the Air Canada Centre. The Toronto Raptors defeated the Indiana Pacers 98 to 87. While a far, bigger, more significant political and social justice story went largely unreported further north in our city! 

At 6:30 pm a huge flash mob gathered out front of the Attawapiskat INAC occupation at 25 St. Clare Ave just east of Yonge. Hundreds of Torontonians joined in solidarity with Attawapiskat and First Nation youth, spilling out onto the street as traffic in all directions ground to a halt. Local progressives of all ages, backgrounds and race joined together forming a huge circle of solidarity as drummers beat out a mad tattoo in the middle of the street. 

The demands? You'll find more info and links about the Attawapiskat INAC occupation on my last blog below. Monday night's "flash mob" protest was more specific. It was the first large Justin Trudeau protest in Toronto, signalling that yes Mr. Prime Minister -the honeymoon is over!

Concerned, caring Canadians know that actions speak louder than money and words! As do Attawapiskat youth! They simply want Justin, who is also our self declared Minister of Youth, to personally come to Attawapiskat to meet with them. They want to directly discuss the disturbing rash of First Nation youth suicidal attempts first hand with our new "leader"! And they need to do it now! 

Have you followed Mr. Trudeau's schedule for the past few days? He's attended the funeral of a former Liberal cabinet minister, met with firefighters, and spoke about prostrate cancer. Sent his minister, officials and health care workers to Attawapiskat! instead!

All that's important in different ways, to varying degrees. But are they as pressing and important as the immediate leadership needs of our indigenous youth, in the middle of a mass suicide crisis?!? Whom so badly need to see some real, caring leadership with that personal touch for which Justin has so greatly touched Canadians and become so well known? Now, during their hour of desperate need! As the crisis continues unabated!

Please show us that your charisma is not all form and no content Mr. Trudeau! Go to Attawapiskat now! Speak directly with our First Nation youth -they are calling out for you! Consider it a test of real, personal leadership! For a country that's been lacking any leadership for far too long! Especially for our First Nation youth, who through no fault of their own, so desperately need you now!

In Solidarity with First Nation Youth!

David C


Thursday 14 April 2016

Toronto: Attawapiskat Occupy INAC!

Some links etc. to follow ...

Some of you might be following my live tweets from the protest at #davidchiarelli. This is a just a quickie blog as I am in the thick of things......

Organizers say there are 17 protesters occupying the INAC [Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada] 8th floor office at the 25 St. Clair office, including a young baby. They plan to be there for the long haul, though food, water, and washroom facilities are limited for now. Police security is pretty tight. I got escorted out. 

The protesters occupy the office reception room. The rest of the office space is locked down or closed off by police. There is no water. There are two buckets for a toilet. Lights go off at night, but there is still power. Supplies seem to be sporadic. Food and water deliveries were being stacked outside but could not be brought in as of this evening. At least one of the protesters has been there since 11 am yesterday morning. The police containment strategy strikes me as quite similar to that used against BLM TO Tent City on College St,. earlier his month.

Protesters were gathering outside all day. Lots of drumming and feet stomping was going on, to keep warm, as the crowd grew. The 6:30 rally was bereft of union flags. That's too bad because they could possibly have provided a "think twice" deterrent as the harassment continues. However, the speakers minced no words, and there weren't any pompous airs. It was a very refreshing, grass root, political protest. 

In it's simplest terms, the Attawaspiskat's immediate demands are simple, and two fold. They want PM Justin Trudeau to come to Attawaspiskat asap for some meaningful talks, not a PR op. They need community resources now to deal with the youth suicide epidemic. The speakers were not naive. As one noted, they have all ready heard "enough words", a sentiment that earned considerable cheers of support from those gathered where I was standing. I was on the front steps, as the speakers stood with their flag in front of the building doors. 

Just a few doors away, pero/ but ....

I note with interest that the OECTA offices are a few doors away. However I didn't see any flags, coffee, no signs of solidarity. The same however, seemed true of the other teacher union affiliates, ETFO and OSSTF who's provincial offices are in downtown Toronto too.

Teachers know about the TRC [Truth and Reconciliation Committee] and residential schools. The mass genocide of our indigenous population and theft of their land as we "settled" Canada. The mass suicide epidemic of the Attawapiskat youth, who have given up all hope. 

This is happening here, in Canada folks! If it happened anywhere else in the world we'd be outraged, ready to send in the CF-18's to blow everybody up! One hope's the protest will not fall on deaf, teacher, social justice, activist's ears! Attawapiskat is a huge news story of international interest. The whole world is watching. Let's not be hypocrites! We pride ourselves on being a caring people in a a very developed country, whom believe in justice and human rights! Yet, this is happening in our own backyard!?!?

The rally was tonight at 6:00 pm. A group is camped outside overnight in anticipation of a possible police raid. A protester occupying the office told me that they are upstairs in the INAC office for the long haul. Further events have not been scheduled yet.


[Here's a few, with more to follow!]

Twitter accounts @ Attawapiskat and @ INACgroundzero

Facebook page Ground Zero INAC Toronto

Attawapiskat declares a state of emergency after 101 suicide attempts @ IndianCountry

Statement by Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day @ Chiefs

On the Attawapiskat INAC occupation and their demands, including photos of conditions within the office @ National Post

An interesting backgrounder on the crisis @ Globe

On what the young folk in Attawapiskat have to say @ Buzzfeed

BLM TO in solidarity with Attawapiskat @ CBC

Attawapiskat: isolation and despair @ Globe

Bob Rae writes about indigenous youth and the cycle of despair @ Globe

Attawapiskat Youth: what does the community need? @ Huff 


Tuesday 12 April 2016

MOE Sandals: Sick Daze!

 My Acronym Guide is @ Here!

Ontario teachers were sent reeling again last week! Ontario Minister of Education [MOE] Liz Sandals seems to be engaged in a little teacher bashing once again in our mainstream media. She publicly accused the teachers of misusing sick days. It was an especially low blow. It comes as many teacher units across the province are still struggling under the MOE's "new and improved" CB Act to reach fair and meaningful local contract agreements with their often intransigent boards. News story @ Intelligencer

So insulting and demeaning were the MOES comments to our province's teachers that ETFO and OSSTF have formally requested an apology from her. As noted, in my Teacher Free Speech April News + Views [BLOG], OECTA, the Catholic teacher union, was not named among the complainants. More @ Globe

But wait! The plot thickens! We've since learnt that MOE Sandal's inflammatory, anti-teacher remarks were based upon a "secret report" from the mysterious "School Boards Co-operative Inc" [SBCI] which she still hasn't seen fit to release. Moreover, it seems Liz hadn't even read the "secret report" before she used it!

A recent Globe + Mail news article, reporting what little is known, obtained OECTA President Ann Hawkin's letter. It has been publicly circulating on the internet and is reprinted for your erudition below. It explains that MOE Sandals has apologized to the Catholic teachers for her sick day statements and elaborates on the sticky question's of the SBCI's "secret report". The text is below. The news report's Globe
As you are no doubt aware, last week Education Minister Liz Sandals commented on a Globe and Mail article, which cited a report by School Boards’ Co-operative Inc. (SBCI), about a perceived increase in teacher absenteeism. Like many of you, I found the Minister’s comments to be inappropriate. Ontario teachers are dedicated professionals, and the Minister’s insinuation that teachers are abusing sick leave provisions is unfounded. The comments demonstrated a lack of respect; certainly, the Minister is aware of the tireless efforts of OECTA members, who consistently work to ensure they provide the highest quality education to Ontario students.
 In response, I spoke with the Minister to raise the serious concerns shared by all OECTA members. The Minister acknowledged that her comments were insensitive, and she expressed to me her sincere regret. The Minister also assured me that she does not believe teachers are abusing the sick leave policy in any way.
 The Minister agreed that the SBCI report, and the way it has been reported, is misleading. The Minister also expressed frustration that SBCI has refused to provide the Minister’s office with any data or methodological information that would allow the Ministry to assess the report’s claims. Without SBCI releasing the data and explaining its methodology, there is no way to verify that absences due to sick leave have increased. Regardless, it is both speculative and inflammatory to say that any possible increase is due to changes to sick leave provisions.
I remain concerned that companies such as SBCI, which market attendance management programs and have a vested interest in making teacher absences an issue, have been allowed to frame the public debate. This is especially problematic while collective bargaining is ongoing. I am also disappointed that the Minister and public were so quick to accept the idea that Ontario teachers would abuse sick leave provisions.
While I am thankful that the Minister has acknowledged her mistake, I will continue to promote the integrity of Catholic teachers, and press for more rigorous oversight of the activities of companies such as SBCI.
Ann Hawkins/ President


So .... What did you think of OSSTF's "Charter"?

One winces at the MOE's ongoing teacher union divide and conquer strategy! Who's in the OLP's good books now? Suppose an apology to the province's public school teachers at ETFO + OSSTF will follow .....?

MOE back door apologies between government and our leadership elites, who then share it as they see fit with the teacher membership, to me, is like back room deals. For an open, transparent, member focused union movement -it's very suspect and it sucks!

Government directed teacher bashing, based upon "secret reports", is highly inappropriate, unprofessional, hostile and counter to good governance. The MOE is long overdue for a Cabinet Minister shuffle. Education Minister Liz Sandals should publicly apologize DIRECTLY to ALL of the province's TEACHERS and step down immediately. But what's more likely? To save face, watch Premier Wynne tactfully shuffle Liz's deck chair on the OLP Titanic elsewhere in the much anticipated larger cabinet overhaul ahead!


On Teacher Free Speech + Grass Root Renewal @ Here!

On OSSTF's Charter of Public Education in Ontario @ Here!

On OECTA: Manufacturing Consent @ Here!

On Why You Need A Good Teacher Union @ There!


Friday 8 April 2016

OTPP AGM: Engaged Investors Etc!

Here's some notes on last night's OTPP [Ontario Teacher Pension Plan] AGM 2016 at the Carlu on Yonge St. here in Toronto. There was a good turn out of active and retired members. Generally speaking with a preponderance of our older [er ... mature?!] ones. The board presented their annual report, held a Q+A, then a mix and mingle. Afterwards, many of us socialized with our colleagues downtown. I had the pleasure of meeting up with OECTA TSU.

Our teacher pension fund is doing very well, for which the members were quite appreciative. I've already reported on the glowing facts and figures in my April Teacher Free Speech News Y Views [LINK] OTPP

I sensed many of us were cautious in wanting to question what would seem to be a winning formula, by a winning team. True enough -poverty sucks! We are doing quite well, thank-you! 

However, that isn't to say that we shouldn't ask more questions and talk about the issues among ourselves though. It's ours! We all want the best possible Ontario Teacher Pension Plan, a goal that is surely shared by the fine leadership we seemed to see on display last night. 

All in all a fairly interesting Q+A ensued. Still, here's a few interesting talking points that stuck out for me. I regret I didn't get all your names, nor will I mention all the many, different, questions asked. Please feel free to add anything I've missed in the Comments section below my blog.

We met the OTPP board and many if not most of the top executives. I had to wince. There isn't much diversity, except that white women are now included in the mix. We of course want the best possible people working for us, regardless of their race, sex, creed etc. etc. etc. But I had to wonder what our board is doing to help provide a level playing field for developing more diversity at the corporate board level? 

The following link, from teacher member Sean O'Conner [Link] is interesting. On May 27, 2015 OTPP "voted against" a Shareholder Proposal Regarding Board Gender Diversity at the Exxon Mobil Corp. Had I known in advance, I might well have got up to ask why, and seek more specific info on the OTPP's policy on diversity within corporate boardrooms in general. Maybe next year!

Member Brian Young [] questioned the board on divestment of fossil fuels. Ethical investments are a big, growing concern for many progressive investors today. Basically, the members were told that OTPP does not believe divestment works but is actively involved in a "policy of engagement" to bring about change instead.

An example was provided of the big "Dong" company and the OTPP "policy of engagement", which quite frankly made me snicker, so let's just leave it at that! We could read into engaging others with the big Dong any number of ways, some not so good.[1] However, the board presented an "Engaged Investors" handout [PDF], that besides "Assessing Climate Change Risk", perhaps best explains the OTPP's "policy of engagement" as follows;
1. we integrate environmental, social, governance [ESG] factors into our processes;
2. we are responsible asset owners and engage regularly with companies and policymakers;
3.we expand our knowledge, deepen our understanding and evolve our practices;
4.we seek clear and relevant information from companies;
5. we collaborate with like-minded peers on responsible investing matters.
We believe engagement and dialogue with companies and policy-makers are essential to these principles. Exchanging information with companies and building constructive relationships with governments enables better analysis of long term investment risks and opportunities.
Divestment ends the relationship outright and eliminates our ability to influence stakeholders.
"Engaged Investors" then goes on to explain what the OTPP has done in 2015, and tell us what's in store for 2016 in "Engaging in Climate Change". I'm glad to see that our OTPP board has responded thoughtfully to our members pressing concerns over the issue of ethical investment. It has repeatedly been brought up over last few AGM's. As teacher professionals we, of course, want to see fair, equitable and just standards and practices increasingly and responsibly "incorporated" into the corporations where we invest our pension funds to build a better future, for all.

As such, Engaged Investors is an OTPP policy that we as members, with a healthy dose of modern skepticism, should monitor closely, to be sure the board's actions back up the fine words here. I also have to wonder: Realistically speaking, lobbying alone does not always work. With the worst offenders might not divestment still also be a valuable tool to show, when necessary, that our board is not just blowing hot air? With our concerns over fossil rights? Human and Labour Rights Violations? Etc?

On another point, member Frank Bruno arose to question when the OTPP will restore full indexation. According to the OTPP, the concessions we made a few years back when the fund dipped into the red has helped push us back into the blue, but we are not out of the rough economic waters yet, so to speak. I dare say, that a very dangerous hole was punched into inflation protection for future generations of teacher retirees. Our younger members in particular will need to monitor this very closely and push for full protection again, for your own good. 

It also strikes me as perhaps rather odd that despite all the gnawing fears and gnashing of teeth, our pension fund is miraculously doing just fine now thank you. But I leave that for others to connect the dots; whether it's all perfectly logical or not, in light of the concessions we had to make!

A visitor asked if other pension plans might plug into our OTPP winning formula. It was a humorous, moment of levity that raises a very good point. Why don't more professionals and workers have defined pension plans that work for them too, rather than their employer, the government or perhaps some off shore tax shelter investor? The direction forward on pensions for our Canadian union movement seems quite clear to me!

Finally, afterwards at the bar, I had an opportunity to briefly chat with our new OTPP Executive VP Bjarne Graven Larsen. Welcome him on board. Bjarne comes to us from Norway. I asked him whether the OTPP has considered investing in the burgeoning Canadian medical and leisure Marijuana Industry as it takes off. He said he wasn't unaware that the Canadian government had promised to legalize it before he arrived. In the short time he's been here, he can't recall the issue ever being discussed around the board table to date. Well, if we do eventually end up making kajillions off it, you will all know who thank, eh? ;-)

In solidarity!

David C


[1]. Nor will I include a funny picture to illustrate! Harumph! This is a respectable blog site! Kinda sorta ...


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!