Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Friday January 31, 2020
Doug Ford and Stephen Lecce’s sad state of affairs
It was largely inevitable that there would be a conflict between Doug Ford’s Ontario government and the province’s teachers. It happened under former Tory Premier Mike Harris, and it’s happened with various right-wing administrations in other provinces. Put simply, teachers are not popular with conservatives, and their unions have been used as scapegoats by conservative governments for decades.
Teachers are considered liberal, and condemned for having long vacations and leaving work at 4 p.m.. The truth, of course, is profoundly different. Because they receive payment for the summer, teachers are paid less for the rest of the year; and their working days certainly do not begin when students arrive at school or end when they leave. Even so, the optics are perfect for the political right, and nobody plays optics and sound bites with such relish as Doug Ford.
Public education is terribly under-funded, the Ford government appears to be far from committed to its long-term health, and this dispute is more about the future of schools than the salaries of teachers. As such, it’s particularly irksome that the government rejects the unions’ demand for more money to be invested into public education, but is willing to pay up to $48 million a day to compensate parents! That is money that could be invested directly into the education system.
The government wants to increase class sizes, wants children to take more online courses, and wants to introduce aspects of the private sector into that online teaching. And it is now willing to spend millions of dollars not to help parents but to try to defeat unions. That’s a deeply sad state of affairs.
The last place teachers wants to be in the middle of an Ontario winter, or any other time for that matter, is demonstrating outside of schools. It’s unlikely that this latest Doug Ford gimmick will be successful, but it goes to the heart of the problem, and no bribe can change that inescapable conclusion. Hey, Premier, leave those parents alone. (Michael Coren, Maclean’s)