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‘Hurricane Hazel’ endorses Kathleen Wynne

Liberal Leader Kathleen Wynne swung through Mississauga today, and won an endorsement from mayor Hazel McCallion. According to The Canadian Press, the mayor said she was supportive of the provincial Liberals because of their “respectful” relations with municipalities.

Ms. McCallion, 93, is one of Canada’s longest-serving mayors — she’s been in office continuously since 1978. (It’s hard to track who would get the longevity crown, though a mayor of a tiny Newfoundland community celebrated 50 years in office last year.)

Ms. McCallion is expected to publish her memoirs this fall.

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Filed under: Ontario Election

Teacher talks continue between BCTF, BCPSEA

Media staked out at the Delta hotel in Richmond, B.C., where teacher talks continue.

Media staked out at the Delta hotel in Richmond, B.C., where teacher talks continue.

12:45 p.m. Hello from the Delta Vancouver Airport hotel in Richmond, B.C., where talks between the B.C. Teachers’ Federation and the B.C. Public School Employers’ Association are ongoing. Little news to share so far; fleeting sightings of BCTF President Jim Iker, BCPSEA’s chief negotiator Peter Cameron and mediator Vince Ready are being tracked and tweeted by media with the feverish curiosity of Loch Ness watchers. Mr. Iker has reportedly said the parties are going over proposals today, and there are whispers of a make-or-break announcement coming sometime this afternoon. Stay tuned.

1:30 p.m. Mr. Ready and Mr. Cameron spotted walking back and forth between two rooms. There are about a dozen members of the media here, and a mic stand is set up. Everyone seems to feel something significant will come out of today’s talks, but still no concrete updates.

2:55 p.m. Mr. Ready and Mr. Cameron walk by. The former smiles and waves; the latter does not. Mr. Cameron seems tired. Media wait with bated breath.

3:30 p.m. A flurry of almost-activity. A blazer-less Vince Ready wanders outside the front of the hotel, sending broadcast media in a frenzy. He is on the phone. When he hangs up, he walks over (on his way back into the hotel) and media ask him if we can expect an update today. “It’s too early to tell. I’m not going to say anything,” he replies. Someone asks who he was on the phone with. He says his grandmother. Chuckles abound.

Vancouver school trustees Ken Denike and Sophia Woo are here. I asked why and Ms. Woo said she is eager to see what happens. Mr. Denike seems convinced “today’s the day.”

7:00 p.m. About one-third of media have cleared out and many of the others have traded off with coworkers. Some plan on sticking around until midnight, 1 a.m. One radio reporter tells me she’s here until 2 a.m., and if they’re still talking, she has to call in a replacement to take over. That’s some serious commitment.

There have been no updates since the last one — not even a Vince Ready sighting. Am told they’re eating now, and a government staffer is being replaced with another, which suggests a long night ahead. One BCed insider said he was pretty sure there would be a decision today, but of course, nothing’s for sure.

The #bced waiting game.

The #bced waiting game.

 

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Worth reading: Pondering the best way to execute change in the education system

A B.C. blogger who has been a District Parent Advisory Council president, among other education-related roles, published a post Sunday on the difficulties of making change in the education system. Heidi Hass Gable‘s thesis in the post is that transformational change, if done using a “start fresh” approach, could jeopardize the future of a cohort of students, and that no child’s future is expendable in this way. She finds herself concerned with the aims of both sides in the teachers’ labour dispute:

Simply moving to smaller class sizes or hiring more specialist teachers won’t suddenly make our school system truly inclusive – it won’t necessarily meet the needs of our most complex and vulnerable learners. That’s the part of the BCTF’s approach that worries me the most – it lacks strategy and, I fear, threatens to entrench our system further into dysfunctional paradigms. More of what we used to have isn’t necessarily what we need now.

We need to see both an investment in education AND we need thoughtful, focused strategies for using that money to meet the needs of all students! How would we do that?

We need a clear focus and commitment (or we need to demand this) from government on a transition that doesn’t “throw away” kids who need more help in the meantime. We need leadership in setting our “direction” as inclusive (first and foremost) AND personalized/relevant – and the planning/funding to match.

Read the rest of her argument via the link below.

I was thinking…

I’ve been pondering change in education quite a lot – for many years. I’ve been a parent of three wonderful (and non-neurotypical) kids in the public system for twelve years now. I was DPAC president for almost six years. I’ve been on Ministry and District advisory committees.

 

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What to expect Monday from the B.C. teachers’ strike: More bargaining and a startling video

Talks to continue

The weekend bargaining session that saw representatives from the B.C. Teachers’ Federation and the B.C. Public School Employers’ Association in talks behind closed doors at an area hotel will continue Monday. It’s the longest the two sides have met since the start of September in their efforts to resolve the strike that has postponed the start of the school year for more than half a million students.

As the parties left the table early Monday morning, where mediator Vince Ready was also present, they maintained a media blackout on their talks, saying only that they planned to resume negotiations later in the day.

More rallies

According to the website Rally for Change, there are three events being organized for Monday:

  • 10 a.m., Victoria: An independent rally “to support human rights” will take place at Lansdowne Middle School
  • 10:30 a.m., Maple Ridge: Protesters will gather for an independent rally at the MLA office of Maple Ridge-Mission rep Marc Dalton (33058 First Ave.).
  • Noon, province-wide: Children and seniors in particular are being asked to join the picket lines across the province and bring a lunch. Organizers of this rally “support proper funding of public institutions, facilities and programs.”

At 6:30 p.m., another group is calling for protesters to show up with pots and pans to make noise for public education on the Cambie Street Bridge in Vancouver. This will be followed by a candlelight vigil. The organizers want participants to use the hashtag #potsandpans for social media updates, and more details can be found here.

An unexpected lift from Mother Nature

Perhaps this isn’t the kind of thing that can be expected to happen again, but this video from the picket lines posted Sunday shows a rather strange sight amid the hot late-summer weather. We knew things were being whipped up into a frenzy, but not like this.

http://youtu.be/aByFu9qelck

With a report from The Canadian Press

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What to expect Saturday and Sunday from the B.C. teachers’ strike

A sliver of optimism is visible this weekend as the two sides in the B.C. teachers’ strike remained silent Friday while lead negotiators met behind closed doors. Nevertheless, emotions continue to run high for parents, students and teachers, and there are several signs of that as the strike is almost certain to stretch into a 10th day of cancelled 2014-15 classes on Monday.

10 a.m. Sunday, Vancouver

A so-called “super rally” calling for arbitration is being organized at the Vancouver Art Gallery downtown for Sunday morning, plainly backing teachers. From the organizers:

This is going to be big. Organized by parents, backed by students. Arbitration is supported by public officials across the province, including the Vancouver City Mayor. We want to hear your voice in support of public education.

Attendees are being asked to wear red, and the rally will begin at the gallery’s north plaza. More details here.

5 p.m. Sunday, Surrey

A peaceful protest in support of public education will take place at Holland Park on Old Yale Rd., according to organizers.

Reported elsewhere

Raffi Cavoukian, the beloved children’s entertainer who has made no secret of his support for teachers and anger at the provincial government, wrote a blog post for the Huffington Post Friday detailing his position.

It pains me to conclude that my provincial government lacks heart, and it has its priorities backwards. It views public education as a costly burden, not an investment in kids, our future, and a requirement for enlightened culture.

Christy Clark Is Balancing the Budget at the Expense of Kids and Teachers

I’ve been reflecting on why the months-long dispute between the B.C. government and teachers has shaken me so. Why should I be this bothered about a labour dispute? Why am I so mad at Premier Christy Clark and Education Minister Peter Fassbender — aren’t there two sides to any story?


 

In a letter sent to The Globe and Mail this week, one teacher pulls no punches in his disdain for both sides but especially the union, and ends up supporting a legislated settlement:

Dear Editor:

For three months the teachers’ strike has seriously hurt students and parents, and sullied the image of the province. So a solution is long past due.

The BCTF is fighting an ideological, polarized battle against the government and has no intention of stopping its action, despite its futility, despite its cost to member teachers, despite its cost to students, despite its cost to public education (which it purports to defend).

Individual teachers cannot bring this strike action to an end. Article 1 of the BCTF Code of Ethics states: “The teacher acts in a manner not prejudicial to job actions or other collective strategies of her or his professional union.”

Parents are divided and busy making arrangements for their children, so their pressure, while appreciable, is not enough to end the strike.

So there is only one party left — the government. They have essential services law. The Minister of Labour can say the dispute threatens the health, safety, and welfare of people in the province, and especially students.

The ball is in the government’s court. Further inaction by Minister of Education Peter Fassbender is inexcusable and should cost him his job.

Jim McMurtry, public school teacher, Surrey

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