Anti-Tory High School Teachers

Posted: June 8, 2011 in Current Events, Election, politics

The Toronto Sun reports that Toronto High School teachers are being offered release time in order to attend political campaign training sessions and to support anti-Tory political candidates in the upcoming provincial election.

The idea is extremely unfair to Conservative supporting teachers and will likely turn into a ridiculous PR fiasco.  What were they thinking?

I love and agree with their statement that a Conservative win in Ontario will, combined with the election of Rob Ford and Stephen Harper, push us towards a “Tea Party of the north”.  That may be very true, and it may be a good idea for the Teachers Federation to be proactive in the upcoming election.  I would support such action absolutely.

However the way they’ve chosen to do this is ill planned.  It is true that the tax payer is not paying for the supply teachers that would replace the regular teacher’s in the classroom, but most tax payers will definitely think that students will be adversely effected by this action.  It will be just one more thorn in the teacher/public relationship.  Furthermore, since the money for the supply teachers can only come from the Federation budget, which comes from teacher’s dues, they are forcing all teachers to support an idea which promotes a specific political view which may not be shared by all.  If I were a Tory supporter (which I think you know, I’m not), I would be extremely upset by this.

This is a way for unions to circumvent the rules preventing them from making direct campaign contributions.  Paying for someone to work in a campaign is, indirectly, but very clearly a form of campaign contribution.  Do corporations give their executives paid time off to engage in political activities.  I guess they do.  It’s call lobbying.  And there may be other indirect ways that Conservative support is garnered from big business.

While the core idea might have been well intentioned, the action was tactless.  But before condemning the Teacher’s Federation for being partisan, let’s examine the ways that big business does exactly the same thing for the Conservative Party.  Because it is done by a company rather than by a union, it tends to go unnoticed, but I’m sure that the practice exists.

I’m all for the Teacher’s Federation being politically proactive.  In fact it is long overdue.  This particular way of doing it, though, was a mistake.


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