By Gerry Barker
Posted October 28, 2015
Volkswagen was the world’s largest car manufacturer until it became embroiled in a monumental scandal over lying about the fuel efficiency of its diesel engines. In the current quarter it announced a loss of $1.8 billion and slipped to second place in sales behind Toyota.
Kathleen Wynne’s Ontario Liberals have been stumbling along for two years with a $10 million operating deficit. Now we learn that her government has been making under the table payments to teacher’s unions who, in turn, have spent some $6.1 million supporting the party in at least three provincial elections.
The premier calls the payments “normal” while Liz Sandals, MPP, Guelph and Minister of Education, is quoted as saying the payments were ”nothing about anything.”
So what’s the difference between Volkswagen and the Wynne Liberals?
Volkswagen fired its CEO, shook up the board of directors and acknowedged its mistake of lying to the public about the diesel mileage of its cars. They are pledged to fix it.
Kathleen Wynne and her sidekick, Liz Sandals, are still in charge and driving the public education system into the grave of John Ross Robertson, a key individual who originally set up Ontario’s public education system.
This government has participated in a deal with three teacher unions in payoffs totaling $7.1 million. In exchange for labour peace the quid pro quo of the teacher union’s exclusive support, the unions contributed money and manpower, to the Ontario Liberal party.
Premier Kathleen Wynne was a party to this in the last three provincial elections, first as Minister of Education and more recently as Premier.
The unmitigated folly of these two former public school trustees, thanks to a leaked secret 42-page document to the Globe and Mail, has created a political firestorm of outrage by the public. Thousands of elementary pupils, their parents and the taxpayers are at the mercy of the Elementary Teacher Federation of Ontarto (ETFO) and the government negotiators.
The strategy that backfired on the Wynne Liberals, authors of this debacle
The ETFO is the largest teacher’s union in Ontario. It is the only public education union that refused to accept the million dollar government bonuses.
Last August, three unions settled a new contract, including a 2.5% increase and were paid as follows: The Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation (OSSTF), $1 million with 66,000 members; the Ontario English Catholic High Teachers Asssociation (OECTA), $1 million with 33,000 members, and the French language teachers (AEFO), $500,000 with 10,000 members.
But the ETFO refused to agree to a similar settlement and refused any so-called, undocumented payment for additional bargaining costs such as the other three major unions had received.
Today, Premier Wynne, announced that receipts were required before any under the counter payments were made. This was a complete slap in the face for Minister Sandals who told the media that her department did not require receipts because they were familiar with the costs of the union negotiating team.
Instead, negotiations broke down. To make its point the ETFO leadership moved to its job action program that started to inconvenience children and parents. Today, October 28, the teachers will leave the classroom at 3:15 and refuse to participate in parent/teacher interviews, will not write report cards, or work on any extracurricular activities.
It would appear that the premier is saying the offer the other three unions accepted, is still on the table. She has threatened to start docking the pay of those elementary teachers who do not carry out their responsibilities and end their job action starting this weekend.
So because the EFTO refuses to agree to the government’s demand to settle on its terms; because the EFTO won’t accept under the table payments or donate money to the Liberals; because the EFTO has some regard for its responsibility to the children and their parents; they are left with no choice.
The Wynne Liberals are determined to bring the ETFO to heel and accept their terms.
For Premier Wynne and Minster Liz Sandals to continue to inconvenience the lives of elementary pupils and parents for their party’s personal gain and to maintain power, is an unconscionable misuse of their fiduciary responsibility and public trust.
It’s time to resign, both of you, and turn out the lights when you leave.