03.14.2011 06:36 AM

Are teachers still a political force?

Personally, I’d say they never stopped being a powerful political force.

So this is good news:

TORONTO – Ontario’s public high school teacher’s union seems ready to back Premier McGuinty’s flagging Liberal government.

Union leaders are warning of a return to tough times if the Tories win October’s provincial election.

They point to the the bitter labour disputes and budget cuts seen under former Premier Mike Harris.

The vice-president of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation says education will be under attack if Tory Leader Tim Hudak becomes premier.


  1. gretschfan says:

    Teachers don’t really ask for a lot and yet they give so much. Most stay in a job that has very limited upward mobility, and they take on the role of social worker, counsellor, cheerleader, referee, coach, surrogate parent, sherpa, therapist, accountant, fundraiser, tour guide, organizer, and more…all unpaid. All because they simply give a damn. All they really ask in return is that education not take it on the chin every time budgets need to be cut. Given this, it’s no surprise that they’re going to back the Liberals. Everyone sees what’s going down in Wisconsin and elsewhere in the states and they know that kind of smallmindedness shares the same roots tapped by Hudak et al.

  2. Greg says:

    It wasn’t just the benefits/pay/budget issues that make teachers almost permanent enemies of the Ontario Conservatives. It was Harris, Snobelen and the other jokers who used teachers as scapegoats to gather votes among the 905ers and rural Ontario. Snobelen got his crisis, and the system has never recovered, frankly.

    I know a teacher’s salary looks good if you live in North Bay, but not so much in Ottawa and Toronto.

    Teachers used to be pretty evenly split among Conservatives, Liberals and NDP. Harris ensured that I will never vote anything but Liberal again, even though my sympathies are slightly to the left of them. I bet there are lots of teachers and former teachers, Old Tories or NDP who feel the same. I reluctantly vote for Mr. McGuinty because the alternatives are horrifying. He’s actually pretty close to Bill Davis, who i never voted for, but always respected.

    • JenS says:

      The fact that they made enemies of both teachers AND boards, which they essentially stripped of both power and pay, speaks volumes, I’d say. And yet, my local board now has a few very vocal Conservatives on it, one of whom is actually seeking the local nom, which scares the bejesus out of me.

      For teachers to remain a powerful force, they will have to ensure proper messaging, to ensure parents know teachers’ Liberal support is based in issues affecting children, not just labour-related issues. It needs to be about ensuring people know things like that the Libs would continue all-day kindergarten, but the Hudak Tories might scrap it. It needs to be about proper funding of schools vs the Tories known penchant for stripping funding. It can’t be about prep time or the amount of unpaid work teachers do. That won’t fly with parents, who tend to be critical of teachers on such issues, and tend to look at things like the hours we know about and the view teachers get extended summer vacations. (And please know I’m not taking potshots a teachers in saying so – I’m just stating the pervasive view that seems to exist.)

      • I will agree that teachers will need to frame their arguments to oppose Hudak based on the best interests of their students, not on their own working conditions or salaries.

  3. Public secondary and elementary school teachers work under different conditions. While the secondary school union may support McGuinty, I think the most the elementary school union will do is oppose Hudak, but not give expressed support to McGuinty. Remember, public school teachers got a smaller raise than their secondary counterparts. Don’t expect the public school union to be a cheerleader for McGuinty.

    • JenS says:

      I’m not sure I agree. The campaign regarding the funding inequity (which I think is far less of an inequity than they portray, given the additional expense of numerous high school programs) aside, I think elementary teacher union membership recalls the Harris years well enough to know going back there is untenable. I think you’ll see them join the campaign, though perhaps somewhat less vehemently, once they figure out what a real threat Hudak getting in is to education.

      • I will just clarify that the elementary teachers’ union will likely oppose Hudak. However, that won’t mean a ringing endorsement for McGuinty.

        • JenS says:

          Talked to a kindergarten teacher today who hopes Hudak wins because she thinks all-day kindy is a sham. Go figure. Takes all kinds, i guess. (Actually, had my kids been eligible for the all-day version, I would have declined, but a) as a parent with kids who will use the school system for the next decade, I’d sooner chew tinfoil than vote for Hudak, and b) I digress.)

          I don’t think it will simply be a matter of opposing Hudak. I think when push comes to shove, they will recognize which side their bread is buttered on, and will support the Libs, despite the full-court press I’m sure the NDP is putting on to woo ETFO and the Catholic elementary teachers right now.

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