Local Ontario Teachers mount sophisticated campaign against Ford cuts to education.
Local Ontario teachers unions are staying a step ahead of the Ford Tories and mounting a sophisticated political campaign against Ford’s attacks on public education, particularly his raising of average classes by one in elementary schools and by 6 students per class in secondary schools. Ford’s cuts will mean 10 000 fewer teachers with a now growing number of students. This means fewer elective subjects will be offered, fewer coaches and extra curricular activities available, less help within class, fewer assignments given, fewer assignments graded, less help after school, and a general degradation of the school system.
As outlined in past issues, there are three options available to the unions. 1) go to court and ultimately to the Supremes to get a ruling similar to the recent BCTF deal that governments must negotiate with teachers about class size and composition. The downside here is that it takes a decade and if Ford was still around, he is prepared to use the ‘notwithstanding clause’ to overrule the courts.
2) the unions could use various forms of strikes, work-to-rule options however Ford is probably prepared to order them back to work with the threat of heavy fines and once again use the same notwithstanding clause against any unfavourable court decisions or injunctions. The unions have opted for now to use option 3) a political response.
The present standings in the Ontario legislature are Tory 73 seats, NDP 40 seats and Liberals 7 seats with 1 Green Party seat and 3 independents, (two were booted from the Tory caucus and one quit).
The teachers’ and education workers in 33 ridings have agreed to work together and have have identified 33 of the Tories elected by the smallest vote margins and decided to go after them triage style. The logic follows that heavy campaigning in opposition held seats or ‘safe’ Tory seats, won by large margins is not the most efficient use of resources. Much better to double down on ‘swing seats’ now and possibly over and over until the election. The Tories only need to lose 12 of these 33 seats to be in minority territory.
In each of the 33 ridings every household will receive a card outlining how their own local member is supporting huge cuts to the school system and downgrading their own child's options and overall school experience. The front of the card will identify and assign the blame to the local MPP, the reverse side will explain the issues and prompt the voter to contact their local MPP for “ a frank and firm exchange of views.” The card comes from the teachers within each riding using the exact boundaries of the ridings. Naturally, the hope for the short term is a more reasonable Tory approach to education but if this is not forthcoming, a steady barrage of the same type of approach until the next election when hopefully, the voters will choose a new MPP from a different party. The MPP contact information is given so, we hope their phones will ring off the wall.
Expanding the model to other employees, increases the effect, for example the nurses, when health issues arise, hitting mainly the same 33 riding with the cutbacks in health. With cutbacks to the overall civil service, universities or colleges the same 33 MPPs or subsets of the group could be targetted.
The beauty of this direction is that there is little Ford can do about it so long as free speech is still allowed in Canada. The only real restrictions on third party ads are limited to the election period itself.
A steady pounding of weak Tories in swing ridings is the best possible way to soften the Tories ‘shoot the prisoners’ approach now and/or replace them in the next election.
This campaign by local teachers and education workers, sends a message that the teachers know exactly what to do and how to do it. If the concept is repeated and if it spreads to other groups and unions, look out.
Addendum : As we are about to blast this email a new poll confirms Ford's position on increases to class size and forcing on-line courses is wildly unpopular. A poll by Corbett Communications Shows, with only a 2.4% margin of error, that 62% of Ontarians oppose the cuts with only 23% in favour and 15% with no opinion. The support for Ford's direction is significantly below the accepted 33% Tory core base, showing Tory voters also disapprove of his direction, not just opposition supporters.