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Who cares most about Liberal scandals?

So far in this campaign, Andrea Horwath has been more aggressive than Tim Hudak in trying to make the Liberals wear the scandals (like gas plants) that occurred under their watch.

The data from our Listening Post survey with Innovative Research Group, though, suggests that attacks on the Liberals’ ethics have gotten a great deal more traction with self-identified Progressive Conservatives than New Democrats.

Perhaps most telling on this front, and some help in explaining why despite its tough rhetoric the NDP has been calling for the Liberals to be put in the “penalty box” rather than given up on altogether, were responses when those who align with each party were asked whether they agree or disagree that “After the past few years, I am so angry at the Ontario Liberals, I will never vote for them again.”

SOURCE: Innovative Research Group

Responses to several other questions point to underlying impressions that help explain this discrepancy between Tories and New Democrats (and unaligned voters, to some extent). Here, for instance, is how people who align with each party responded to the question: “When it comes to waste or mismanagement of government spending, do you think the provincial Liberal government is better or worse than other provincial governments we have had in Ontario?”

SOURCE: Innovative Research Group

A question about whether the Liberals have been better or worse than past governments when it comes to “favours to friends and insiders” brought a similar response:

SOURCE: Innovative Research Group

As a side-note, even most self-identified Liberals don’t seem to think their party of choice has been more ethical than past governments; just that it’s no worse. But it’s quite remarkable how many self-identified New Democrats seem not to think the Liberals have been unusually bad on that front, either.

Now, before going too far in assuming only Mr. Hudak can successfully play the ethics card, it’s worth noting that the pattern is a bit different when it comes to questions about which party would be most ethical in government. Here’s how PCs, New Democrats and unaligned voters responded when asked which party would “do the best job of cleaning up
favours to friends and insiders if they form government”:

SOURCE: Innovative Research Group

Also worth noting is how pessimistic unaligned voters are about any of the parties’ ability to run a clean government. Here’s how they responded to that same question about who would clean up favours to friends and insiders:

SOURCE: Innovative Research Group

So going by these numbers, if Ms. Horwath is able to make more of her likely supporters care more about Liberal scandals, and/or if she’s able to convince more voters who don’t really associate with any party that she’s truly capable of cleaning up corruption, this issue could be a winner for her. But so far, the biggest impact of all the scandal talk seems to be that it energizes Mr. Hudak’s supporters.

(As parties get more sophisticated in targeting messages to individual voters, we want to get as many people as possible involved in helping us keep track of those messages and how they’re delivering them. If you’d be willing to help us tell the story of this campaign by keeping a campaign diary to let us know who contacted you and uploading campaign material, or maybe giving your reaction to ads, issues and events, you can sign up for the Listening Post Network here.)

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Filed under: Ontario Election

Live remarks scheduled from both sides about tentative B.C. teachers’ contract




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.

bargainingbc liberalsbctfchristy clarkjim ikerpeter fassbender

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.

photossocial media

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.


educationparentsworth reading

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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