December 17, 2012 - No. 14
All Out to Support Elementary Teachers'
education workers and supporters rally at PC Leader Tim Hudak's office,
Beamsville, December 12, 2012.
Left: Toronto students hold Day of Action against Bill 115 at Queen's
Park, December 13, 2012.
• All Out to Support
• Students Join Their Teachers to
Demand: "Kill Bill 115!"
• Ongoing Actions Against Bill 115
• Coming Events
Oppose Attempts to
Usurp School Board Powers and Impose Austerity
• Toronto District School Board Concedes to
Ministry of Education Intervention - Rob Woodhouse
• The Need to Make Sense of These Events to
Provide a Way Forward - Enver Villamizar
All Out to Support Elementary Teachers' Strike Actions!
Ontario Political Forum
calls on everyone to join elementary teachers on the picket lines, even
if just for a minute, to
put the lie to the Liberal/PC
disinformation that the teachers are holding parents and students
hostage. Every concrete expression of support shows that the fight to
Kill Bill 115 is a stand
in defence of the rights of all.
On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of this week strike
been announced for boards that include Toronto, Oshawa, Hamilton,
Windsor, Oakville and Sarnia in Southwestern Ontario as well as North
Bay, Sudbury, Sault Ste. Marie and other places in Northern Ontario.
These cities represent the heart of
Ontario's industrial working
class as well as Ontario's most populous city, Toronto. These
communities represent the steel, auto, petro-chemical, mining, forestry
processing industries in Ontario, not to
mention the financial sector in Toronto. The one-day strikes will no
doubt have an effect.
No doubt there will also be attempts to present the
actions of the teachers as a threat to Ontario's economy, especially
the possibility that in the future they could extend to more than just
a day. Of course the ruling circles
Ontario and Canada are afraid that the working class of Ontario is
rising in defence
of its own interests. The legacy of the Kitchener-Waterloo
by-election, not to mention the historic Ontario Days of Action
against the anti-social offensive in the 1990s are a spectre in the
minds of the Canadian
ruling circles who do not want the working class to flex its collective
recognize its power to intervene directly in political affairs, in its
own interests. This is especially the case given the tenuous position
the ruling circles are in, with a lame duck premier and a prorogued
reveals the crisis of a political system in which the people have no
The more the ruling circles try to paint teachers and
education workers as isolated or self-serving, the more the actions of
the teachers, education workers and
students show that they are taking a stand for the rights of all in
society. This is made especially clear by the slogan that the
Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO) has
adopted for its billboards:
If You Work in Ontario, This is Your Fight! The strike actions of the
elementary and secondary teachers and education workers should be fully
Districts Holding Strike
Actions in the Coming Week
Monday, December 17
Hamilton-Wentworth, Rainy River, James Bay,
Tuesday, December 18
Waterloo Region, Peel, Lambton-Kent, Near North, Greater Essex, Grand
Wednesday, December 19
Bluewater, Algoma, Halton
For future strike actions, check the ETFO website.
Students Join Their Teachers to Demand:
"Kill Bill 115!"
Students from all over Toronto filled Queen's Park on
December 13 in a powerful demonstration for the repeal of Bill 115 and
against its undemocratic essence. Chants of "Kill the Bill! Kill Bill
115!" filled the air at Queen's Park,
along with slogans
supporting teachers and education workers' rights. At least 2,000 high
school and elementary students came from across the Greater Toronto
Area (GTA). The
rally went on for more than two hours.
Students began arriving at 1 pm in school groups, which
in some cases included as many as 150 students. By
2 pm there were
1,000 students. As each new school group poured out of the subway into
Queen's Park a cheer went up. By 2:30 there were 2,000 students.
Student groups from schools further away
were still arriving at 3
had their own style of hand-made "Kill the Bill!" signs and signs
supporting their teachers.
The December 13 action followed walkouts to oppose Bill
115 at many high schools and elementary schools across Ontario the
previous week. The student walkouts began December 10, the same day
teachers and education workers stepped up their struggle against
Bill 115 with
rotating strikes of elementary teachers and other education workers
represented by ETFO and work-to-rule actions by high school teachers
represented by OSSTF. Almost all of these student actions demanded the
repeal of Bill 115 and expressed support for their
Education Minister Laurel Broten issued a statement on
the student actions that tried to turn upside down what the
students went to Queen's Park to so powerfully express. "I can
certainly understand why students are
disheartened," Broten said. "I share
their concerns, and am disappointed that actions by the public teacher
unions have placed students in the middle of this disagreement over
pay." This shameless
statement was made while thousands of voices shouting "Repeal Bill
115!" and "We Stand With Our Teachers!" were rattling her office
windows at the Ontario
is also an insult to the students, suggesting that they don't
understand who is who and what is what
on the question of Bill 115. The overwhelming majority of the students
Park clearly understood why they were there - to stand up for
democratic rights and to take a stand against the government's attempt
trample on people's rights. The very fact that the Ontario Legislature
was chosen as the venue for their protest confirms this.
This understanding was
expressed by many of the students
who spoke at the end of the demonstration. One was a girl in Grade 9
from Scarborough who summed up the sentiment of the students in a short
speech: "This demonstration is about the rights of students and about
the rights of teachers
but it is also about the rights of everyone in the society. If the
government can take away the rights of teachers, it can take away
A group of high school students from the Etobicoke
School of the Arts/Students Against Bill 115, was the main organizer
for the action. As students
assembled in the park, the group handed out leaflets to inform their
peers, including a brief analysis of the content of the legislation and
instructions on how to
present their demands to MPPs during a 3:00 pm mass call-in to tell
them how the dispute with teachers is affecting their
education. Students told Ontario
that they held walkouts, gave in notes to be excused from class or just
class -- all to make sure they could stand up and be counted at the
By defending teachers and education workers who have
had to resort to one-day strikes and the withdrawal of volunteer work
to press their just demands with the government, the students are
adamant that they are also defending their own right to education.
What Participants Had to Say
A group of high school students from Sir John A.
Scarborough told Ontario Political
Forum that they had come
out to support the teachers because "as teachers get affected, we get
affected. Most of our extra-curriculars are cut, especially extra help
which is bad because
students who need help can't get it." Another student said, "We're
also fighting for the teachers because they can't strike themselves. So
if they can't strike,
we'll strike for them. [The government] can't really do anything to the
students if they help strike en masse.
it's mostly for the teachers."
A group of Grade 8 students from Bellmere Public
School in Scarborough took off class to attend the rally and show
support for their teachers. One
explained to Ontario Political Forum that they are
supporting their teachers so that extra-curricular activities,
especially extra help, are restored.
The lack of extra help may impact their grades and affect their future,
they pointed out. "It's not fair the government took away their right
to strike," said another,
adding, "We're here to strike for them."
A group of Grade 11
and 12 students came from
Vaughan Road Academy armed with many placards calling for the repeal
Bill 115 and explaining why they
oppose it. They also expressed their support for the teachers and
demanded that they have their right to collective bargaining restored.
They emphasized the
impact of the loss
of extra-curriculars on their school experience and that they are doing
their part to see them restored by supporting their teachers. "By
undermining the teachers,
the government is undermining our education as well," said one student.
They also informed that students held a walkout at their school the
which was well-attended.
Students from Central Tech, who walked out of class to
join the rally, told Ontario Political Forum that teachers
are being unfairly treated,
and that consequently this is blocking most of the opportunities for
students, which especially affects graduating students.
One of the student organizers from the Etobicoke School
the Arts/Students Against Bill 115 explained to Ontario Political
Forum the importance
of holding such an event to give students a voice in the situation, as
those who are amongst the most affected and to put pressure for a
solution to be reached.
"We need our school resources and the teachers do a lot that goes
under-appreciated," she stated, adding that as an arts school, a lot of
their success in the
program depends on extra-curricular activities.
Several students' signs highlighted that the
government's attacks on public sector workers in the name of paying off
the deficit will not be
limited to teachers. A student whose sign warned, "You Will Be Next!"
told Ontario Political Forum, "We believe the
is taking away the rights of the teachers, they're infringing on the Charter of Rights and
Freedoms, and we believe that they won't stop
here. They're doing it
to cut back [...] and they'll also do it to others in the public
Ongoing Actions Against Bill 115
Protest at PC Leader Tim Hudak's Office
Steelworkers join with
teachers and education
workers outside PC Leader Tim Hudak's office
in Beamsville, December
Elementary Teachers Hold Rotating Strikes
Top to bottom; left to
Liskeard; Timmins, December
10, 2012; St. Catharines, December 11, 2012;
Ottawa, December 12, 2012.
Liberal Leadership Debate
Theatre, Carleton University
-- 125 Colonel By Dr.
Download poster here
Labour Council Rally Against Bill 115
overpass – Main and Lakeshore.
Teresa Piruzza, Liberal – Windsor West
2470 Dougall Ave.
Liberal Leadership Debate
Convention Centre - 550 Beck Cr.
Download poster here
Liberal Leadership Debate
Mill Inn, 21 Old Mill Rd.
Download poster here
Attempts to Usurp School Board Powers and Impose Austerity
Toronto District School Board Concedes
to Ministry of Education Intervention
In a decision at its December 12 trustees' meeting, the
Toronto District School Board (TDSB) conceded to the demand of
Minister Laurel Broten that a
Ministry of Education "special assistance team" intervene in the TDSB
financial affairs. This decision was made under duress as Broten
threatened to place
the TDSB under Ministry supervision if it did not agree to the
In a letter to TDSB trustees Broten threatened,
"If the board does not accept the Special Assistance Team with the
responsibilities we have outlined
we will begin to take the necessary steps to appoint an investigator to
assess whether the board has the capacity to make the necessary
corrective actions on
its own to get its financial affairs back on track or if other measures
The role of the special assistance team will be to match
the TDSB budget to provincial underfunding, with a specific mandate to
implement the cuts
recommended in a review of TDSB finances by the consulting monopoly
Price Waterhouse Cooper (PwC). The PwC accounting mercenaries
recommend $90 million in cuts, including drastic job cuts,
aggressively closing schools and recklessly selling school property to
real estate developers
and private schools to raise capital.
While vote by the TDSB trustees on the motion to accept
the intervention was 13 to 7 in favour, only one trustee of those
who voted in favour actually
spoke in favour of the
intervention. The majority felt that there was no choice and that being
placed under supervision was worse than the special
Those opposing the motion were led by East York Trustee
Sheila Cary-Meagher who made a spirited speech against what she called
the bullying of the school
board by the provincial government. "We have been elected to
protect the interests of the students and parents we represent. We have
a duty to those
who elected us to resist the bullying and interference of this
government," Cary-Meagher said. She denounced the interference of the
assistance team as a
self-serving power grab: "There is nothing in this offer from the
ministry that is there for the board, it is there for the ministry to
Among the trustees voting against the motion were
trustees on the board committee which had examined the PwC review in
detail. As is usually the case
when accounting monopolies are hired to do a hatchet job on social
programs, PwC was found by the trustees to be pulling numbers out of
thin air. "The data
that they've [PwC] used is very questionable, the language they've used
is very questionable," trustee Howard Goodman said. He went on to say
recommendations of PwC would require breaking legal collective
agreements, violating the Education
Act and breaking other laws.
The TDSB's budget already includes
broad cuts that impact students and workers throughout the system.
At an April 4 TDSB meeting, a decision was made to cut 200 full-time
teachers, along with 134 school office positions, one high school
vice-principal and 17
elementary vice-principals, two aquatics instructors, six school based
safety monitors, ten caretaking staff and four special education
staff to match the
provincial underfunding formula. Following the cuts to education
announced in the
2012 provincial austerity budget, TDSB announced plans for more cuts,
elimination of 430 educational assistant (EA) positions. EAs provide
essential supports for the most vulnerable students.
Motion on Closing and
TDSB meeting were
acting with a gun held to their heads by the Education Minister.
Minister Broten has already frozen
provincial funds for TDSB capital projects on the basis that she
confidence" in TDSB's financial management. Capital
funding is urgently required by TDSB to complete the implementation of
kindergarten and to carry out a large backlog of capital maintenance
Broten told the TDSB, trustees were
informed, that even if they conceded to the intervention of provincial
assistants the Ministry would not end the freeze on TDSB's capital
is demanding immediate action to close schools and sell board assets
order to lift the freeze.
these threats and blackmail, so as to access desperately
capital funding, the trustees passed a second motion calling for the
real estate arm, the Toronto Lands Corporation, to work up a list of
properties that could be auctioned off to meet Minister Broten’s
Trustees had been resisting reckless school closings and property sales
of public opposition and the incoherence of this as a
After the meeting, Broten
gloatingly announced she was pleased with the TDSB decisions. She also
cynically claimed that her
dictate and blackmail represented a legitimate "agreement" between her
and the board. "Taxpayers expect us to work together," Broten said.
Broten and the government claim victory, but their
victory is a hollow one. The war the Liberal government is waging
against teachers, education workers
and the school boards to push through its austerity agenda is
increasing the isolation of the Liberal Party and increasing its crisis
It is true that Education Minister Broten has once again
government has the power to dictate austerity measures that serve the
rich minority. But she has also
demonstrated the urgent necessity for the people to find the
means to deprive such self-serving politicians of this power.
School Shooting in Connecticut
The Need to Make Sense of These Events
to Find a Way Forward
Right away we are told that the issue is for U.S.
President Barack Obama
to focus on gun control legislation. Back and forth it goes, as the
attempt is made to embroil everyone in a discussion on whether this is
or is not the issue.
How do we make sense of these events in a manner which
provides a way forward?
Our thoughts go out to the families of the victims,
students, teachers and education workers. News reports indicate that
teachers, education workers and administrators at the school carried
out heroic acts as they tried to protect the children and one another
the shooter. It couldn't
be otherwise as this has always been the case wherever these shootings
take place: people carry out tremendous acts of courage, in some cases
themselves for others. It is no coincidence that the teachers and
education workers in the school sprang into action to try to stop the
rampage. This is the instinct
of those who care for the youth.
The murder of children is a most depraved act and must
be condemned no matter where or under what circumstances it takes
place. No doubt only an
individual with serious mental illness would carry out such an
act. However, what drives a person to do such a thing, especially such
young person, not much more than a child himself? What kind of a
society gives rise to such actions,
which are happening more and more often, not only in schools and
communities but directly
in the political arena?
A country that uses assassination as a mechanism to
eliminate those it declares enemies abroad, is on a regular basis now
facing the same thing at home.
This phenomenon is also taking place elsewhere internationally,
including in Canada.
Boasting about targeted assassinations to eliminate
declared enemies and terrorizing entire peoples with the resulting
damage" and claiming this is a legitimate mechanism to sort out
differences is a depraved way of sorting
out problems. This however has become the norm in international
relations for the
U.S. and other NATO powers.
Canada is not immune, contrary to what some may wish to
assassination attempt against Quebec Premier Pauline Marois is an
example, as are statements by Tom Flanagan, Conservative pundit and
Alberta professor, who openly declared on CBC television that Wikileaks
Assange should be
If the U.S. state and its allies stop their
politics of assassination internationally and renounce the use of force
and the threat of the use of force to sort out
problems between nations and peoples, this will set the stage for the
same at home. If the U.S. state stops using its armed forces to
terrorize peoples of
other countries in order to achieve geo-political aims and instead
treats other nations and peoples as equals, it will contribute to
the same domestically.
How can it be that the actions of the U.S.
government are not linked to the actions of its people? The U.S. calls
on its citizens to rally behind the flag
and the nation. Why would its citizens not also take up the methods
used by their government to deal with problems they encounter in their
lives? Mentally ill people
are turned into monsters by a society that creates monsters to
commit state sanctioned and organized
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