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Tossing Pebbles in the Stream

This blog is my place to sit and toss pebbles into the stream. The stream of Life relentlessly passing before us. We can affect it little. For the most part I just watch it passing and follow the flow. Occasionally, I need to comment on its passing, tossing a pebble at it to enjoy the ripple affect upon Life's surface.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Politics and Protest

Note:  I don't often write about Canadian politics. I am more inclined to comment on American politics. It is not because the later is more interesting but the fact the Americans who read my blog know little about Canadian politics requiring me to write a lot of background information.  On the other hand, I can  easily assume most Canadians know a lot about American politics. I have tried in this blog entry to give enough background information  to make it understandable to Americans.  This is understandable when you realize that Canada is a mouse sleeping next to an elephant. . (Trudeau) the mouse has to listen carefully for what the elephant is doing while the elephant may not even know the mouse is there.

This past weekend my son, Parker, has traveled  to Toronto to participate in a demonstration with  his union, Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation (OSSTF).  They are trying to keep up pressure on the Liberal Party, which is the governing party in the Ontario legislature.  The teacher's unions have traditionally been supporters of the Liberal Party. The Liberal Party, and particularly it's leader, the Premier, Dalton McGuinty,  has like to think itself as a pro education party.  Recently, the government has turned on the teachers. 
Last Fall, with a provincial  budget to balance the government demanded concessions from the teachers along with other public sector workers.  Rather than following the process of negotiating with the teachers, a right long established in Ontario, the government passed a law, Bill 115, that forced a contract on the teachers which not only forced wage and benefit concessions on the teachers but also it denied them the right to strike. The teachers have been demonstration against this ever since with whatever actions are still legally available to them. They have been working to rule and are not volunteering to supervise student's after school programs and demonstrations after school hours.  They would like the government to reconsider this legislation and return to having the teacher negotiate a contract. The issue has moved beyond the money to fundamental labour rights.

They are in Toronto this weekend because the Liberal Party is having a convention to elect a new leader of the Party, which means that  Ontario will have a new Premier to lead the government.  

The Liberal Party, which has formed the government in Ontario for many years has found itself in a lot of trouble with several scandals, unhappiness over some programs, and an increasing deficit, in part due to the tough economic times as well as some mismanagement by the government.  Dalton McGuinty , the Premier for the last 9 years, suddenly decided to run rather than work through the governments problems and the dissatisfaction with the Liberal Party.  He announced his intent to resign, prorogued the parliament, which effectively  suspended parliamentary criticism of the problems  of his government,  and set the wheels in motions to find a new leaders.

The teachers and other labour groups are demonstrating outside the convention to let  the future Premier know that they expect some real change if the Liberal Party ever want to have the support of them in the future.

The Liberal Party now has a new leader, Kathleen Wynne, who will shortly be sworn in as Premier Ontario. She will be forming a new Cabinet and reconvening the legislature to begin to govern with a minority government and to restore faith in the Liberal Party.  The teachers expect to negotiate some changes with her although she has indicated she is not going to revisit Bill 115's results. (In fact the bill was withdrawn after the government got what they wanted out of the teachers.)  She will have to do something for the teachers are a large powerful union with lots of money which used to help fund the Liberal Party.  I personally hope the teachers' union decides to support the New Democratic Party in the next election to help if form the government.



Part of the protesting crowd outside the old Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto. It is largely a teacher's union protest with support from public service workers, auto workers and Canadian Labour Congress.


My son Parker and grandson Travis at the teacher's demonstration in Toronto.  Parker is his school union representative.  They seem to be having too much fun for a serious  protest.!


One of the interesting side issues in the selection of a new head of the Liberal Party is that the two strongest candidates were women.  Kathleen Wynne, by a close margin, came out the winner.  She will be the first female Premier of Ontario.  She is also the first lesbian to be the head of any government across Canada. Her sexual orientation was never an issue in this election.  She is an interesting person with a strong background in politics and education. She is from the left wing of the Liberal Party,

Canada now has half of it's 10 provinces with Premiers who are women: British Columbia, (Christy Clarke), Alberta (Alison Redford), Ontario (Kathleen Wynne), Quebec (Pauline Marois) and Newfoundland and Labrador (Kathy Dunderdale) .  As well the territory on Nunavut has a woman Premier (Eva Aariak).

{ Nunavut does not  have a parliamentary government,  It does not have political parties. It operated on consensus (in 5 official languages). The elected members nominates one of their own and he/she is appointed by the Commissioner of Nunavut.}

Is seem women are coming into their own in politics. These women Premiers are an interesting competent lot from different background and parties.  I am sure the dynamics of the annual Premiers's meeting must be changing.

Today there are protest across Canada by the Idol No More movement by First Nations people who have been inspired by some federal legislation that infringes on their treaty rights exploiting resources and weakening environmental protection. For far too long demands and needs of First Nations communities have been ignored by the federal government. Joining them is a coalition of "Common Cause"  aroused progressives to have come to understand the Conservative Harper government is taking our country down a road  the majority of Canadian don't want to go toward a future which will find our country much diminished in many ways.
These days Canadian politics are alive and vital with people participation.

7 Comments:

At 8:26 PM, Blogger Anvilcloud said...

I wonder if Wynne can win an election. Highly doubtful, I would think. Just no Hudak, puhleeze.

 
At 9:17 PM, Blogger John and Carol said...

Many of us in this country believe public employee unions have too much power and are a big part of the problem with government funding. Maybe that is true in Canada, as well.

 
At 3:45 AM, OpenID daffy said...

I have to bypass the politics and move swiftly onto the those smiles! I am sure they were serious in all the right places. Lovely smiles they are too!
On a side-note... I am blogging like crazy! Where are you :) :) :)

 
At 11:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 4:56 PM, Blogger possum said...

Teacher's Unions are illegal in VA, so we have never been on strike here. But, there are more ways than one to make your point.
Education in the USA took a huge step back under the Idiot President, Bush II. He bragged that even a C- student could become president (if they had a president as father, lots of money, and a VP that actually ran things.)
I have no doubt Canada is way ahead of the USA in education as well as everything else. I just wish it were not so danged cold!

 
At 8:41 AM, Blogger KGMom said...

Two observations--first, I have some cousins in Canada who have written (on Facebook) about the labour issues for teachers, so I have a passing awareness of what has been going on.
Second, union membership is at an all time low in the U.S. Unions go all the way back in history to the guilds--I disagree completely that public unions have too much power. Who else will stand up for the individual worker's rights?

 
At 7:12 PM, Blogger Ginnie said...

You would think that being neighbors would bring our two countries closer but our politics are so different. All I know is that I love my Canadian blogger friends and hope you get the people in to office that you want and that will help you most.

 

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