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Tories accuse Wynne of riding a tractor the wrong way

The Ontario Progressive Conservatives were up in arms Tuesday after Liberal Leader Kathleen Wynne drove into an announcement about agricultural policies atop a tractor.

Visiting Sandra Vos’s beef farm in Paris, Ont., to make her announcement, Ms. Wynne slowly drove the tractor toward waiting media with Ms. Vos riding off the side of the vehicle.

https://vine.co/v/MHHXTnEQhPj

A short time after the announcement, the PC campaign office released a statement saying Ms. Wynne’s behaviour was dangerous and violated farm safety guidelines.

“Kathleen Wynne set a very bad example this morning when she rode into her media avail with someone hanging off the side of a tractor,” the release read, citing statistics from the Health and Safety Guidelines for Ontario Tobacco Producers that farm tractors have killed 250 people on Ontario farms in a recent 15-year period.

“Many of the deaths have involved rollovers to the side or rear, extra passengers falling from the tractor and bystanders being run over,” the release continues, emphasizing the risk to passengers.

War room releases criticizing each party’s media events and announcements are a common tactic on the campaign trail. Usually the content of the announcements are the target for critique, though occasionally the circumstances around an event are called into question as well.

Wearing Liberal-red rubber boots, Ms. Wynne grinned as she hopped down from the tractor before making her announcement of a plan from the party’s proposed budget that would see a 10-year, $40 million a year fund to support farmers and the food processing industry.

The riding is currently held by Liberal MPP and house speaker Dave Levac, but the Grits have long struggled to make gains in rural Ontario where the PC party has multiple strongholds in no small part due to the support of farmers. Born in the Toronto suburb of Richmond Hill, Ms. Wynne took over as agriculture minister while serving as premier and faced criticism from the opposition about her ability to connect with the concerns of rural communities.

Stepping up to the microphone on the farm, Ms. Wynne said she enjoyed driving the tractor.

“It was a pleasure,” she said, adding she’ll take any opportunity she can to drive as a break from riding on her campaign bus. After the announcement, Ms. Wynne maneouvered the tractor back up to the barn.

No one was injured during the press conference.

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Filed under: Ontario Election

Reaction from both sides about tentative B.C. teachers’ contract

FROM BCTF NEWS CONFERENCE:

FROM GOVERNMENT NEWS CONFERENCE:

 


 

British Columbians will be hearing from both sides of the B.C. public education labour dispute today. Government leaders Christy Clark and Peter Fassbender are up at 2 p.m., then Jim Iker of the BCTF will speak at 4:30 p.m. From a government media advisory:

Premier Christy Clark and Education Minister Peter Fassbender will address the tentative agreement with the BCTF from the Premier’s Vancouver Office.

And a memo from the teachers’ side said this:

BCTF President Jim Iker will speak to media today, September 16, at 4:30 p.m. at the BCTF Building, 550 West 6th Avenue, Vancouver. His remarks will be live streamed at https://new.livestream.com/BCTF/Sept162014.

Stay tuned for developments from these media availabilities.

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Tentative deal reached in B.C. teachers’ strike

UPDATE, 1:12 p.m.

Sources close to the negotiations have told The Globe and Mail that teachers will be asked to vote on a six-year deal that includes total wage hikes of 7.25 per cent, which is similar to the offer that the government’s negotiators put on the table in June, and they will not collect the $1,200 signing bonus that was on the table at that time – that offer expired on June 30.

However the government is putting roughly $100-million into a fund that the union can distribute to its members to address the grievances from the 2002 law that stripped the contract of language on class size and composition.

The main victory for the union is that the government is creating a new education fund that will be used exclusively for members of the BCTF to address issues of class size and composition – the number of special needs students in each classroom. The government had offered to put more money into special needs supports, but had initially planned to share that investment with other educators such as educational assistants who are not part of the BCTF.


 

Veteran mediator Vince Ready, who emerged from the Richmond, B.C., hotel early Tuesday morning after another marathon negotiation session, had this to say: “After all these hours I’m very pleased to announced the parties have reached a tentative agreement. I’m not at liberty to release any of the details, nor are the parties. The parties are going to meet later this morning and finalize a few of the outstanding details, but generally speaking there has been a tentative agreement initialed by the parties.”

A ratification vote is expected on Thursday, according to BCTF spokeswoman Nancy Knickerbocker.

So when might schools officially open again?  Vancouver School Board chair Patti Bacchus predicts it will take several days — after the vote — for things to get back to normal: “There is a lot of work and classroom/timetable organization that normally would have started at the end of June and been completed by now,” she said in an email.

“I know principals and VPs have being doing as much of that as they can and I understand the expectation is that we would open within a day or two of an agreement being in place (may require ratification etc). That could be part of the ongoing negotiations as well.

“However it unfolds, it will certainly take several days to get things settled to the point they would normally be at this time of year.”

Here’s our latest news story with developments in the deal to end the strike.

Government-appointed negotiator Peter Cameron takes a walk during a break from negotiations at the Delta Vancouver Airport in Richmond, B.C., on Monday night. (Ben Nelms for The Globe and Mail)

Government-appointed negotiator Peter Cameron takes a walk during a break from negotiations at the Delta Vancouver Airport in Richmond, B.C., on Monday night. (Ben Nelms for The Globe and Mail)

With a report from Justine Hunter in Victoria

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Social media roundup: Tuesday morning photos reflect optimism as tentative deal announced

Pictures shared on social media this morning tell the story: People are excited about a probable end to the teachers strike.

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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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Chart: Number of B.C. public service employees with contracts vs. number without

One reason the B.C. government refuses to go to arbitration with teachers is because it fears other public-sector unions would seek a comparable deal to whatever the BCTF is awarded — something an arbitrator would decide. And there are more than 160,000 public employees without contracts for the current bargaining cycle:

Contract status of B.C. public service employees

By number of employees (Total: 316,103)

SOURCE: B.C. Ministry of Finance (as of July 18, 2014)

From a balanced-budget perspective, there could be a larger burden than these numbers suggest. As Justine Hunter reports today, most of the collective agreements yet to be negotiated are by their nature more expensive: the ones for doctors, nurses and post-secondary educators.

B.C. government rigid as most expensive public-sector contracts yet to be inked

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