Bill 124 Heats Up Ontario Education Conflict

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As temperatures plunge, the conflict between Ontario teachers and the Doug Ford Conservative government is heating up.

With exaggerated budget deficit figures in tow, the Tories decided to pick a fight with educators by increasing the size of classes and requiring students to take online credit courses, the overall result of which would be the loss of thousands of teachers’ jobs.  Like so many of the savage cuts made by Ford to health, transportation, environmental protection, legal aid and other vital public services, his education measures violate his pre-election vow that there’d be no job losses, only “efficiencies.”

To top it off, the Tories passed Bill 124, a salary cap of 1 per cent imposed on the entire public sector.  The four teachers’ unions (OSSTF, ETFO, OECTA and AEFO) are taking the government to court.  The Tories are likely to lose, based on recent rulings which struck down laws (e.g. the 2012 provincial Liberals’ Bill 115) that abrogated collective bargaining rights.  Unfortunately, it will take years to get a definitive high court ruling, and possibly decades to reverse the harm that may be done in the interim.

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Coup by NDP Brass aims to Block Assessment of Singh

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by Gary Porter

The Federal Council of the New Democratic Party of Canada decided in December to postpone the Federal Convention, possibly to the end of 2021, or beyond. In effect, it is cancelling the convention. Federal Council has no constitutional authority to scrap the biennial meeting of the highest body of the party. The Constitution of the New Democratic Party of Canada, Feb 2018, states:

“Article V, Conventions

General description: There are two kinds of conventions: Biennial Convention and Special Conventions.

  1. Timing and location of conventions
  2. a) Biennial conventions shall take place at least once every other year at a time and place determined by council.”

There are no exceptions in the constitution. Under the section on the duties of Council, there are no powers to delay the biennial convention specifically, and no residual general powers given to council, period. The action by Council constitutes an apparent unconstitutional and anti-democratic coup against the party membership initiated by the Jagmeet Singh-Ann McGrath leadership. Why?

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“Justice for All”:  XR Toronto’s New Demand

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by Daniel Tarade

On December 15, the Toronto chapter of the nonviolent civil disobedience group Extinction Rebellion held its first general assembly and adopted a new demand — Justice for All — that places indigenous people and other marginalized groups at the center of its climate activism.  XR Toronto elaborates that it “demands self-determination for Indigenous communities both in Canada and around the world. The response to the climate crisis must center the rights and needs of indigenous peoples, people of colour, the economically disadvantaged, people with disabilities, migrants, and people of all genders and sexualities. Solutions must be actively de-colonial and firmly safeguard the dignity of all.”

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Laurier Teaching Assistants Unionize!

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by Emily Steers

Three years ago, a group of graduate teaching assistants began a campaign to unionize the TAs at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario, about 100 km west of Toronto. Laurier was one of the only Ontario universities where TAs lacked a union. This was reflected in the disparity in our pay, training, and the consistency of work between departments. For two years the TAs worked diligently to spread the word and boost the union drive, and chose the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) as the union to join.

 

Since September, the drive picked up in earnest. Campaign organizers visited classrooms, set up information tables, created an active social media presence, and distributed union cards. Once we met the requisite 40 per cent of workers who signed cards, we filed for certification, asking the Ontario Labour Relations Board to conduct a vote. It took place online, November 5-6. There was a massive turnout. The employer contested the legitimacy of the vote, padding the employee list and filing a section 8.1 objection (disputing that we met the 40 per cent threshold). The union challenged over 50 names on the employers’ list.

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Trudeau Minority Gov’t (Still) Serves the Rich

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by Barry Weisleder

Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appears to be counting on his waning skills of distraction, plus the disarray in Conservative ranks, to keep his minority government in power for at least two years.  That much is evident in the Throne Speech, the Fiscal Update, the new NAFTA, and the prominent role of Deputy PM Chrystia Freeland – as feckless Tory Leader Andrew Scheer heads for the exits.

While the deposed Scheer faces an internal audit over the use of party funds to pay his children’s private school tuition, an array of Tories is lining up to run for his job. Thus, the Conservative Party is in no hurry to force a general election. 

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