Ontario teachers’ unions to spend $3 million to save McGuinty gov’t

When a public sector union in Canada, like the Ontario Catholic Teachers’ Federation, decides to spend $3 million of their members’ dues, to save a boondoggle-prone and inefficient provincial government, like the Dalton McGuinty Liberal government, you can assume that something is fishy. Why?  Because, as all taxpayers know, he who pays the piper calls the tune

During the last week, it has become very clear that Canada is in the midst of a paradigm shift. In fact, I now believe that the federal election of 2011 will go down in history as a shift either, back to the debt and deficits and entitlements of the 1970s or forward to smaller government and both government and taxpayers living within their means.  

And, symptomatic of that paradigm shift is the latest news that the Ontario Catholic Teachers Association are ramping up their battle with the Ontario Progressive Conservative (PC) Party and its leader Tim Hudak in the lead-up to the Ontario election in early October. Remember, this is a group that represents “Catholic” teachers, Christians, who say they believe that they are their brother’s keeper. That being the case, how much good could $3 million do towards breakfast and lunch programs in inner city schools?  

Instead, that $60 levy against each and every member is apparently going to be used to help the McGuinty government get re-elected to a third majority government. And, according to the Toronto Star, that is in addition to whatever is being spent by the Working Families Coalition — which is also funded by the teachers’ unions, as well as other public sector unions.

Why? Because teachers’ collective agreements expire in 2012. Meaning, the teachers’ unions would have to face bargaining with the Tim Hudak PCs and they obviously don’t like that prospect one bit. On the extra levy, Christina Blizzard writes today in the Toronto Sun:

“It’s a protectionist racket — a shakedown to ensure teachers continue to get their lavish pay hikes and benefits. Since Premier Dalton McGuinty came to power in 2003, teachers have seen their pay hiked around 25% — an average of about 3% a year… [So] don’t look to the McGuinty Liberals to freeze teachers’ salaries, as they promised. They’ve failed miserably to hold the line on any public sector salary. Why start now?”

I heard Tim Hudak on the radio this week. He said he comes from a family of teachers and has nothing but respect for the profession. I feel pretty much the same way. I am a teacher. I am a retired teacher, as is my husband. I’m therefore, not going to be a hypocrite.  We both have a teachers’ pension (albeit mine is reduced). Do I appreciate what we have? You bet I do! Do I realize that it was collective bargaining that made our pensions possible? Yes, of course I do. But, I do not recall such partisanship and the complete lack of social conscience and willingness to compromise that I am seeing now.  

Well, Ontarians need to remember then that he who pays the piper calls the tune. In other words, if the McGuinty Liberals get re-elected, we can expect our taxes to go up to pay for public sector union demands — because they will owe them big time. So, three million to save the McGuinty government may not seem like much money in the grand scheme of things, but it is symptomatic of all that is wrong with our society today and its “we are entitled to our entitlements” attitude.   

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Endnote: I am puzzled every time I see the Working Coalition ad on TV, you know the one where the men in suits are sitting at a board table insinuating that good old “Tim” (meaning Hudak), should give capitalist Bay Streeters everything they want and forget everyone else. Well, hello?  Ridiculing capitalists? Look at the type of investments made by the Teachers’ Pension Plan and OMERS. In fact, the plans for teachers and municipal workers are two of the largest investment groups in the province.  It’s common sense. Capitalism creates a climate for investment. Investors create wealth. Wealth creates jobs. People work in jobs. People pay taxes which pay for public services. So, why bite the very hand that feeds them? Oh, silly me, it’s give the public sector unions everything they want and forget everyone else!

26 thoughts on “Ontario teachers’ unions to spend $3 million to save McGuinty gov’t

  1. Glad the comments are on Sandy!

    What really bothers me about this ploy is that the individual teachers don’t seem to have a choice. It seems very undemocratic to me.

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    • Jo — It’s not surprising that unions concentrate on their mandate. However, what is surprising is that they don’t see what they are doing as self-serving and, as you say, undemocratic.

      Re the comments. Not sure why the check mark was off. Don’t you just love the “fat cat!”

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  2. What OECTA is doing is perfectly legal. This issue has been to the Supreme Court and the unions won. The Supremes have laid out the ONLY formula to end it. You must end all corporte and union donations at the same time. You can ban both or you can keep both but you cannot have unilateral disarmament by one side. It was Harper and the National Citizens’ Coalition that fought the hardest for the rights of 3rd Party advertising” in elections. You can bet that the other 2 large federations, OSSTF and ETFO are also determined to spend just as much but will probably take it out of the $70 million dollar strike funds instread of a special levy.

    Of course there are a few conservative teachers but corporations do not ask their shareholders if everyone approves before they donate to political parties.

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  3. That cat is awesome. Should put 3 of them together and doctor them up to look like the current 3 stooges of the coalition wannabes.

    o/t Sandy, did you read the Star article re Mulroney not liking Harper?

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    • Yes, Candace, I read that re Mulroney versus Harper. But I am very suspicious as well that the Star twisted things out of context. Frankly, I am surprised Mulroney allowed himself to be interviewed. Next up of course will be Joe Clark voting for his Liberal candidate.

      We are in the midst of a paradigm shift we haven’t experienced since Trudeau ran against Bob Stanfield, the best PM we never had. All because Stanfield was not a photogenic ladies man and fumbled a football in front of the cameras.

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  4. It is high time that public service unions were either abolished and/or banned from political advertising altogether.

    I have no problem with teachers (or other public servants) entering the political fray though individual efforts/donations but I abhor the use of what is essentially pooled public money being used to support one cause or another; mostly those in their favour. If nothing else, they will, and should, have to stand up as individuals, not hide behind collectives, for their beliefs.

    This incestuous relationship between government and public service unions must stop. The rest of us peons don’t stand a chance when up against unions with government funded (i.e relatively unlimited) clout.

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    • Jan — You will see what taxpayers are up against when you read Doug’s comment. He is a union man, so not surprising. It’s all about their “legal rights” or “entitlements.” The ethical issues don’t ever get discussed of course.

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  5. Does anybody understand why?

    Real Conservative, I’m a Catholic too and I am very disappointed in the way the Church seems to be moving left in general.

    But the union is obviously looking after what it perceives to be the best interests of the teachers (and it’s own survival). However I really have a problem with the whole thing. It seems rather immoral.

    Sandy this issue needs to come back to the forefront when the Ontario election revs up in the late summer. I think Ontarians’ sense of fair play will be offended by the actions of this union. And will there be others that follow suit?

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  6. The Catholic Teachers’ Union is associated with the Church,they’re using their name, Catholic schools are all about,teaching and living the faith. If anything the church should be condemning their action. It’s immoral and obscene to be spending that money to influence and steer votes to a bad government that has put us in the economic dumpster.

    I believe many of the churches of the different Christian denominations have veered Left and are losing their flocks as a result. Not a good thing.

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  7. I have attended many OECTA meetings. The emphasize the socialist aspects of Christianity with their members such as the Sermon on the Mount, the preferrential option Jesus had for the poor and other aspects of Liberation Theology. They see catholicism and social-democracy as the same thing.

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    • Doug — You are insulting Catholics if you are defending spending $3 million on partisan advertising with liberation theology. Even for you that is beyond disgusting. Spend the $3 million on breakfast and lunch programs, then you are talking about social-democracy. Getting involved in keeping one political party in power (so they can negotiate a better collective agreement, more salary and benefits) is NOT related in any way to Jesus and the sermon on the mount. What an incredible stretch of reality.

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    • Oh, and one more thing Doug, the only “poor” the $3 million is going to help are all those “poor” advertising agencies that will make the copy and ads — that don’t deal with the McGuinty record and how badly the Liberal government has governed Ontario, now a “have-not” province. No, instead, they will trash the Hudak PCs based on a former government from the late 90s who said no to those same unions.

      Truth is, all that type of campaign is only going to do is remind Ontarians how well it was managed by Mike Harris. You see, he is only a monster in the eyes of those who couldn’t hold his government to ransom. In the end, remember, the teachers’ strike of 1997 ended because ETFO gave in, not the government.

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  8. There is another side? Do people in favour of destroying the environment get equal time?

    Sorry, the school system has long since taken certain positions, pollution is wrong, women are equal, democracy is good, you know crazy stuff like that.

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  9. It was the Supreme Court in the Merv LaVigne decision and other decisions that have decided that unions can spend their money on any political causes that they choose and it is their business and their business alone.

    There is a way to get rid of union involvement with donations to political parties but corporate donations must be abolished at the same time as has been done in Quebec, Manitoba and at the federal level. The Supremes will not allow the restrictions on unions alone.

    The Supreme Court has also found that union contracts cannot be broken by legislatures any longer the way Bob Rae did in Ontario. There can never be “Rae Days” again.

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  10. I suspect there’ll be some pushback from the public who’ve never asked the teacher unions to leap into the political world. The consensus seems to be that this is more about the unions intruding into the realm of politics to benefit themselves than offering much evidence that this is about “kids”. McGuinty has spent billions of taxpayer dollars sucking up to the teacher unions and the public are very able to see the connection.

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  11. Doug — public sector unions get their money indirectly from the public purse unlike, say the CAW. As a union man, I would have expected you to say just what you did. Legal and moral are two different things.

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  12. Shareholders in a corporation have the option of selling their shares and parting ways if they disapprove of corporate policies. How does a teacher who disapproves of their union’s behaviour or actions do the same thing? The answer is they can’t unless they quit their job. Apart from that difference Doug is right on the money 😉

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  13. Your post says teachers’ unions donate $3 million. Wasn’t that only OECTA? The other 3 teachers unions will probably donate in the same % per member AEFO has a funny priority of electing Franophone MPPs but OSSTF and ETFO will donate haevily directly. They also give about $100 000 per year to the Libs and the NDP + I expect they will donate again to Working Families Coalition. Teachers (collectively) hate the Ontario PC with a deep passion.

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    • Doug — I worked for the Harris PCs when that hate started. It was completely caused by the lies the various unions fed their members.

      I remember getting the union notices because my husband was still a member and I could hardly believe the garbage they were spewing. The biggest shock, however, was when my fellow teachers went like lambs to the slaughter, never calling them on the lies.

      That the Harris gov’t would cut 10,000 jobs. Not only a huge exaggeration but an outright lie. The Tories actually hired 10,000 more teachers.

      That the Harris gov’t was going to privatize all public education. Pure bunk. They were looking at offering one of two charters.

      And on and on it went.

      That is my biggest disappointment with my fellow professionals — they preach to kids about the dangers of believing everything they hear and the importance of resisting peer pressure — but believe everything their union officials tell them and stick together in fear of being shunned or fired.

      Most unfortunate. Hopefully, this time many of them know the truth and will vote PC because they will be in the privacy of the ballot box.

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  14. It really was discouraging to see “professionals”, or at least their leadership, engage in what turned out to be outright fabrication. I suspect a student getting caught in such integrity-challenged behaviour would be faced with some serious sanctions.

    The Harris era battles didn’t add much shine to the profession. As to the “working families” thing I suspect enough details have emerged over the folks behind that scdam to render it ineffectual; they don’t speak on behalf of workers or families or much of anything. Mostly they’re groups who’ve done very well on the backs of taxpayers and are hoping to keep the gravy train on the tracks.

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  15. Pingback: Sandy: McGuinty gov’t cuts a secret deal with public sector union | Jack's Newswatch

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