July 17, 2013 - Vol. 2 No. 44
August 1 By-Elections
Defeat the Liberals and PCs! Make Every
Vote Count! Join the 5 for 3 Campaign!
• Defeat the Liberals and PCs! Make Every Vote
Count! Join the 5 for 3 Campaign!
• Windsor-Tecumseh and London West
• Ottawa South
• Etobicoke-Lakeshore and Scarborough-Guildwood
• The Cynicism and Opportunism of the Liberals
and PCs - Laura Chesnik
• Bill 115 Was Not an Aberration -
• Using Transit Expansion to Justify Cuts to
Social Programs - Rob Woodhouse
• The Other Ford Scandal - David
• Shadow Summit and Rally at
Council of Federation
August 1 By-Elections
Defeat the Liberals and PCs! Make Every Vote Count!
Join the 5 for 3 Campaign!
Working people are using
the five by-elections taking
place across Ontario as an opportunity to make a statement against the
neo-liberal, anti-worker austerity agenda championed by the Liberals
and PCs provincially and the Harper government federally.
The common thread in these actions is that the
by-elections are a chance to keep fighting for the rights of all and
creating public opinion that can eventually turn the tide on the
anti-social offensive and provide the working people a pro-social
Ontario Political Forum
calls on everyone to join these
efforts wherever you are located in order to make every vote possible
count as a stand against the anti-social austerity agenda and for the
rights of working people. Every contribution makes a difference. Ontario Political Forum encourages
people to take up the 5 for 3 campaign started by teachers and
education workers in Windsor-Tecumseh and London West (see below).
is open now at returning offices in the ridings.
Visit Elections Ontario here for
Windsor-Tecumseh and London West
Teachers and education
workers rally against Bill 115 outside former
Finance Minister Dwight Duncan's
constituency office September 14, Windsor
District 9 of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers'
Federation based in Windsor-Essex calls on voters to say No! to both
the Liberals and PCs in the August 1st by-election.
Defeating the Liberals and PCs will put all governments
-- provincial, federal and local -- on notice that working people have
rights. Governments can't get away with violating these rights.
We are launching the 5 for 3 campaign. We are asking you
to call at least 5 people you know who live in the Windsor-Tecumseh, or
London ridings and convince them to get 3 friends, relatives or
neighbours to get out and vote against the Liberals and PCs. You can
vote now at the returning office.
The Liberals and PCs passed Bill 115, the Putting
Students First Act. It was used to impose contracts on teachers
education workers without their consent. It ripped over $1 billion from
public education. The Labour Board then declared our withdrawal from
voluntary extracurricular activities in protest an
The government repealed Bill 115 but left the
illegitimate contracts it imposed. Hiding the weapon used to commit the
crime does not make it go away. Leaving the contracts permitted the
Labour Board to rubber stamp the violation of our collective bargaining
rights and control what we can do with our voluntary
Who will be next? All public sector workers? Let's say
Defeat the Liberals and PCs!
For further information or to get involved and help
build the campaign call 519-991-5516 or visit OSSTF District 9 website
education workers rally outside Liberal Party Annual
Meeting in Ottawa,
In Ottawa-South, Premier McGuinty's former riding,
teachers and education workers of the Ottawa Carleton Elementary
Teachers' Federation are in action to get the NDP candidate elected.
The candidate -- a school board trustee -- had been part of having the
Ottawa-Carleton Public school board pass a motion
on October 23, 2012 calling for the "review or repeal of Bill 115." The
activists explain that they are working to elect this NDP candidate
because she took a stand against Bill 115.
Etobicoke-Lakeshore and Scarborough-Guildwood
Two by-elections are being held in the Greater Toronto
Area: Etobicoke-Lakeshore and Scarborough-Guildwood. Toronto is a major
front in the battle for Ontario as both the Liberals and PCs
provincially seek to claim that they represent Toronto's interest in
their fight over how new pay-the-rich schemes, especially
over public transit, will play out. The media present Toronto as a
"Liberal fortress" with the PCs ripe to "break in." The Harperties too
see Toronto as a lynchpin in their strategy to win the next federal
election. In this respect, using the by-elections to give expression to
the working people of Toronto's opposition
to these parties, their corruption, schemes and anti-worker agenda is
an urgent necessity as part of preparations for stopping Harper in
2015. Harper sees Ontario, and in particular Toronto, and a divided
workers' movement as his path to victory. Ontario Political Forum calls
on the working people of Toronto and
the surrounding area to slam the door to this path shut!
Teachers and supporters
picket against Bill 115 at office of former Education Minister Laurel
Broten, November 9, 2012.
Etobicoke-Lakeshore presents a compelling opportunity to
hold the Liberals and PCs to account. Until she resigned, the riding
was held by Laurel Broten, the former Education Minister in the
McGuinty government. As minister, Broten introduced Bill 115, the Putting Students First Act.
This legislation, passed
with the support of the Conservatives, stripped teachers and education
workers of their collective bargaining rights. Workers from all sectors
fought a year-long battle against Bill 115 and are not prepared to see
this disgraced Liberal MPP replaced by another Liberal as if nothing
The Liberals are hoping to replace Broten with Peter
Milczyn, the Liberal candidate in Etobicoke-Lakeshore. Milczyn is a
leading anti-worker municipal politician who was instrumental in
helping the administration of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford push through its
agenda of cutting city services, cutting city jobs
and attacking collective bargaining rights of civic workers and Toronto
Transit Commission (TTC) workers.
Etobicoke-Lakeshore is one of several Toronto area
ridings the Harper Conservatives captured in the last federal election,
giving them their majority. The Hudak Conservatives are pushing to make
Etobicoke-Lakeshore a beachhead in Toronto where they currently hold no
seats. Establishing a foothold in Toronto
for the Hudak Conservatives has become a joint project of federal,
provincial and municipal Conservatives for consolidating the
anti-worker, anti-social "hat trick" of the Harperites.
Hudak has recruited Ford's Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday as
the Conservative candidate. Holyday has a long history as an
anti-worker politician while he was Mayor of Etobicoke, before
amalgamation with the City of Toronto. As the Chair of the Ford
administration's Labour Relations Committee, Holyday imposed
concessionary contracts on civic workers and implemented large scale
contracting out of city jobs. Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty,
Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak and Toronto Mayor Rob
Ford have all been out in the riding campaigning for Holyday.
With the aim of keeping working people sidelined in this
by-election, the media of the ruling elite have declared that Milczyn
and Holyday are "star candidates" and "frontrunners." But as working
people know from their experience in the Kitchener-Waterloo by-election
last year, the Liberals and Conservatives
do not represent the popular will. Such declarations mean nothing when
the people organize to get out the vote to defeat the Liberals and
In Etobicoke-Lakeshore a clear statement can be made
against the anti-worker candidates of the Liberals and Conservatives
with the mobilization of the workers and people in the riding to get
anyone and everyone they know to vote against the Liberals and PCs. To
join the mobilizing contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Cynicism and Opportunism of the
Liberals and PCs
The actions to oppose the Liberals and PCs in the
by-elections are of great importance as the Wynne government has done
everything possible to try and eliminate any ability of the organized
workers' movement, and the people as a whole, to deliberate, think
about what is at stake and express a collective popular
will in the by-elections.
Just as the McGuinty
government called the by-elections
in Kitchener-Waterloo days after school began and as it and the PCs
unleashed a massive assault on teachers and education workers and their
unions, so too Wynne is showing there is nothing new about her
government in terms of the way it uses by-elections
to undermine the ability of the people to express themselves.
The government called the by-elections as a surprise
attack on July 3, exactly 4 weeks before the vote, despite knowing for
months that it had to call the by-elections. In some cases candidates
had yet to be selected for the parties. The quick call allowed, or
forced, the parties to impose candidates in a number
of ridings where they had yet to be selected locally, strengthening the
concentration of power in the leader's office and attacking local
decision making, disempowering even members of the Liberal Party
itself, not to mention everyone else in the process.
In addition, it called the by-elections on the eve of a
long weekend when people are occupied trying to have time with their
families. In Windsor-Tecumseh for example, it is happening right in the
midst of the rotating two-week shutdowns of Chrysler and Ford, the main
concentrations of autoworkers in the area,
with many taking holidays during this time.
The by-elections are also taking place right in the
midst of the bogus "local bargaining" the Wynne government "permitted"
for elementary teachers, meaning that many of their local leaders are
fully embroiled in negotiations with local school boards, trying to
defend their members there.
The cynicism is such that the Liberal government has not
even bothered to put out a campaign platform despite all the claims
about being new and different. Clearly they do not want to be held to
account in any fashion, hoping to use pretty words about "fairness" and
"balance" to dazzle the workers.
The fitting response to this cynical move to keep the
people from being a force in the by-elections is guaranteeing that
every vote becomes a statement against the cynicism and corruption of
the anti-worker Liberals and PCs. Join in!
Bill 115 Was Not an Aberration
One of the arguments being
given as to why the working
people, especially teachers and education workers should support the
Liberals to defeat the PCs, or at least tone down their opposition to
the Liberals, is that Bill 115 and these attacks on all workers' rights
was an aberration for the Liberals and that the
Wynne government represents a "new" Liberal Party with better policies
and a break from the legacy of Bill 115. The Liberals have even tried
to sell this by scheming to have the former president of the Ontario
Secondary School Teachers' Federation run as the candidate in London
West. Aside from the fact that
teachers and education workers oppose such crass opportunism, it must
also be recognized that Bill 115 is an expression of what all
governments that follow the neo-liberal, anti-worker, anti-people
agenda have in store.
The people who brought Bill 115 forward have all been in
power in Ontario since 2003. They didn't suddenly lose their marbles
and want to pick a fight with teachers and education workers for no
reason. If one looks at the legislation brought in under the McGuinty
which Wynne was a major player, all the
arrangements to usurp control over collective bargaining and to impose
privatization and other schemes to pay the rich were being put in place
right from 2003, following the direction set by Harris. It is now that
they are being rolled out more openly.
The use of Bill 115 to undermine workers' rights was
also not peculiar to Ontario, nor the Liberals either. In other
provinces, and nationally, the same type of arrangements are being put
in place and tested out.
For example, in Quebec there was Law 78, passed to
criminalize the students' and their allies' resistance to tuition
increases and the privation of universities and colleges. It sought to
destroy the students' unions and university workers' unions generally
who supported the students to not submit to tuition increases
and privatization. More recently, the Quebec government legislated
striking construction workers back to work when the workers rejected
unnaceptable concessions to their wages and working conditions
from the construction monopolies that employ them. In BC the
government imposed contracts, and
despite being found to have violated the Charter Rights of teachers and
education workers, no redress for the workers has materialized some ten
years later and the government continues to put forward the same agenda
today. In Saskatchewan the government passed a swath of laws destroying
the old arrangements
for labour relations, even eliminating the eight hour day. In Alberta
the government is demanding ten year "agreements" from their teachers
and education workers in the face of teachers' and education workers'
opposition to provincial dictate.
Bill 115 is a reflection of the deepening crisis of the
economic system based on private interests at the expense of the public
interest and the attempts of the most powerful financial interests to
resolve the crisis on the backs of the working people, wrecking all
modern arrangements in the process. Saying No! to this anti-social
agenda can be done by saying No! to the Liberals and PCs in Ontario who
are its champions at this time.
Using Transit Expansion to Justify Cuts
to Social Programs
For several years the Toronto Region Board of Trade
(BoT) has been carrying out a public relations campaign for the massive
expansion of rapid transit in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area.
Part of the campaign has been to create a consensus among the rival
factions of the ruling elite on the necessity for
transit expansion. The other part of the campaign has been to promote
the use of public funds for this project. The BoT is the Toronto
chapter of the Chamber of Commerce. It is a political organization
comprised of 10,000 businesses, including the largest banks and
monopolies and it represents their interests.
During this public relations campaign, the BoT has
issued a number of studies on the need for transit expansion and how it
should be financed. The thrust of all of these studies is that building
transit infrastructure will create a huge amount of wealth in the
Toronto region. At the same time however, they illogically
present transit capitalization and operation of transit not as a social
investment but as a huge cost, as a kind of overhead cost for modern
The BoT studies say this "overhead cost" should be borne
by the public without businesses having to put anything in, using the
usual neo-liberal justification that if businesses in the region have
to pay, this would make them uncompetitive. Some of these studies call
for the government to create the "fiscal space"
for carrying this cost by more rigorously slashing spending on social
programs and services.
One of these studies was Infrastructure: Unleashing
To Grow, which was released as part of the BoT
intervention in the 2011 Ontario election. A demand the study puts to
provincial politicians is to reduce spending on social programs and
public services so that funds
are available for transit expansion: "For the Province to be able to
relieve its current fiscal deficit and invest in the transportation
needs of the Toronto region, it is essential to find efficiencies in
program delivery." "Finding efficiencies in program delivery" has since
become well known as code for cuts to social programs,
public services and to the workers who deliver them.
The document cites health care "costs" and public sector
workers' wages, benefits and job security as the main places where the
government will have to make reductions after the election in order to
make room for transit funding: "Improving the Province's long-term
fiscal health will require changes to the way
many programs are funded and/or delivered."
The BoT particularly targets health care spending. The
study says the government has to "bend down the health care cost curve"
and that the way to "achieve cost efficiencies in health care spending
is to place an emphasis on redirecting future health care dollars
towards less expensive community-based care found
in Community Care Access Centers, primary care provision, and
home-based care." Since the study was published, the Liberal government
has followed this cost-cutting advice by dumping patients out of
hospitals into communities and disguising this as health care reform.
Governments around the world are cutting wages, benefits
and job security for public sector workers, the study says, and Ontario
should do the same: "A good place to start would be leveraging natural
attrition rates to reduce the overall size of the provincial workforce,
where appropriate. The long-term sustainability
of labour costs and benefits, including pensions and early retirement
packages, needs to be examined if the Toronto region is to move forward
Eighteen months have passed since the BoT infrastructure
study was released. In that period the Liberals were re-elected and
have heeded the call of the privileged minority they represent. The
Liberal government has delivered two austerity budgets containing
severe measures for degrading health care and education
and a broad attack on public sector workers and public services.
The "fiscal space" has been created and the transit
infrastructure projects demanded by the BoT are underway. Subway, buses
and Light Rail Transit (LRT) vehicles are being built and shovels are
in the ground for the subway, the Eglinton LRT and many other projects.
The government has created the capacity
to borrow $50 billion for the transit project being planned. As well,
to assure the moneylenders that they will be repaid, schemes for
increasing personal taxes are being rolled out to create what is being
called "a dedicated revenue stream for transit." These transit taxes
can be used to service new direct provincial
debts or to provide guaranteed profits on any private-public transit
partnerships that are set up.
Austerity Is a Fraud
The proposition put forward by the BoT that social
program spending has to be cut in order to make transit expansion
possible is a grand fraud that hides what the rich minority are up to
with their infrastructure plan. Saying transit expansion and social
programs are in conflict
turns the truth about their relationship inside out. The deception
hinges on hiding the way transit produces wealth in the economy and
presenting transit investment as an "overhead cost" or drain on the
The BoT admits that transit creates wealth, but it hides
the fact that it is working people in every aspect of transit who
create this wealth in the economy through their labour. Workers in
transit at every stage of production all the way down the line have the
latest equipment, work in highly socialized enterprises
and produce immense wealth. After the claims for wages by workers
involved in transit, and even after provisions for capital project
costs, there is still a huge surplus government can claim. This claim
by the government can be used to help fund social programs.
The problem is that, without putting anything in,
businesses make hidden claims on the wealth created by transit. Transit
expansion increases the value of their private assets and increases the
amount they can take from the economy as profit. The real conflict is
not between transit spending and social program
spending but between the very social character of the wealth transit
workers put into the economy and the very private way business takes
this wealth out of the economy through their hidden claims.
Besides justifying the freeloading of its sponsors, the
BoT's phony proposition that transit expansion and social programs are
in conflict also serves the ruling elite in other ways. They use it in
an attempt to divide the fighting unity of the Canadian working class.
Workers involved in all aspects of transit -- manufacturing
equipment, constructing infrastructure and transit operations -- are
all told "every dollar cut from social programs and public services is
another dollar to spend on transit." Debunking the frauds of the ruling
elite about how wealth is created strengthens workers' unity in action
against austerity measures and confidence
in pushing for a pro-social direction for the economy.
The Other Ford Scandal
At the same time Ontario's Liberal government and
Harper's federal government are struggling with scandals of their own,
the latter's close associate, Mayor Rob Ford of Toronto, has been the
subject of a media frenzy concerning alleged illicit and possibly
criminal activities in his private life. A photo has surfaced
of the Mayor fraternizing with individuals, one of whom was
subsequently murdered and others who have recently been arrested in
police raids said to involve illegal drugs and gangs. More
sensationally yet, some monopoly media reporters claim to have seen a
video being offered for sale of Mayor Ford appearing
to be smoking crack cocaine with individuals involved in the narcotics
trade, and in a less than coherent state making uncouth and
quasi-racist comments about youth in the northwest Toronto
neighbourhood the Ford family has used as a base.
Such revelations are indeed scandalous, but the timing
and substance of the accusations, particularly considering central
features of the Ford regime the monopoly media does not present as
scandalous, raise big questions about what certain ruling circles and
their mouthpieces are up to. Mayor Ford and his brother
councillor, in the tradition of their deceased father, a Mike Harris
MPP, have been champions and promoters of the neo-liberal, anti-social
austerity agenda of the first order. They have close ties to the most
virulent personalities in power driving this agenda, like Stephen
Harper and Tim Hudak. The municipal regime
the Fords constituted at the end of 2010 has been implementing that
agenda to the best of its ability. If it has not yet achieved all its
aims of privatizing everything that has remained public, of destroying
all municipal public services and social programmes, of driving down to
subsistence the wellbeing of workers,
starting with city employees, and destroying their ability to resist,
this has been due above all to the people's resistance rather than any
compunction on the part of Ford and his closest partners in power.
Is it not a scandal for
those in power to attack, on
behalf of the very rich, those who produce the wealth upon which
society depends for its existence and the well-being of its members? Is
it not a scandal to deprive the people of their most basic rights to a
livelihood and wellbeing on the basis that private property
right and the unrestricted workings of the market are all that is
sacrosanct? Those in power who via their media have unleashed this
other scandal of Mayor Ford's private life, not only ignore the scandal
of neo-liberal austerity, they are its proponents -- either explicitly
having supported its Ford/Hudak/Harper version,
or else the form more identified with the provincial Liberal government
Is it an accident the Ford scandal chosen by the
monopoly media for exposure, that of the mayor's private life, in no
way challenges the austerity agenda of which he has functioned as a
spearhead? Does this not suggest that Mayor Ford, who has performed
such service for the rich and private monopoly interests
by attacking workers' and people's rights, is no longer so useful and
is being cast aside to clear the way for the achievement of these same
interests' current projects? Ford made opposition to tax increases the
justification for his agenda. But now Ontario's political and financial
ruling circles are planning massive
expenditures, particularly for transportation infrastructure. To make
certain that the people bear the burden, while rich private interests
profit, greatly increased taxation of residents is in the works. Since
Mayor Ford, in line with his rhetoric as defender of the taxpayers, has
not been cooperative, he may now appear
as an obstacle to some powerful interests that previously supported or
accepted his leadership. Such considerations would explain why
accusations about the mayor's private life that have been known for
some time, have at this time emerged as a grand media fomented scandal.
This would also reiterate much that
is already known about the modus operandi of the ruling
Health Care Is a Right!
Summit and Rally at Council of the
Canadian and Ontario Health Coalitions
departing from across the province -- contact Ontario Health Coalition
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