Assaults on unions are attacks on democracy itself.
Rosemary Ganley The Peterborough Examiner November 17, 2022
Away with the jesting about e- biking in Vienna, as in my last column.
More important stuff is afoot. The social progress, or at least the stopping of a downward slide for Ontario society has been led by the least of the “sistren,” the union educational assistants. A strong rallying to them by other unions, and an awakened public followed.
We are facing assaults on democracy itself, on unions, on collective bargaining, on striking and the right to withdraw one’s labour.
These are true, important rights which the Ottawa convoy might well examine, and then compare with their own puny, self-serving, anti-social complaints. Someone wrote on Twitter about the convoy, “They are not about working class economic anxiety, but about grievance-based, white, mostly men, feeling constrained by changing norms.”
So shocking was Premier Doug Ford’s attack on CUPE, which includes many poorly-paid but heroic women, it was the subject of a major story in the British newspaper "The Guardian." What on earth is happening in Canada?
I can answer the Ontario part of that. We have elected an incompetent leader with a spotty CV, and with him, a dull crew of compliant party members who now carry out the wishes of monied supporters, who, down deep, wish public institutions ill.
I have a young relative in Brockville who is an educational assistant. In a typical week, she diapers, suctions, deals with seizures, soothes children and builds their confidence. It is because we Canadians believe in equal rights and in inclusion. In fact, Ontario public schools have been the envy of the world.
The offences against labour, and therefore against all of us, through the shocking invocation of the seldom-used Section 33 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the notwithstanding clause established in 1982 and never used by the federal government, or by 8 or 10 provinces over the last ten years, was a sledgehammer tactic that backfired. Bad mistake, that.
To think that we in Peterborough could be represented today by Greg Dempsey, the lawyer-diplomat specializing in human rights who was defeated by Conservative Dave Smith last June. Dempsey said at the big anti-Ford rally on November 6, “I would never vote to take away workers’ rights.”
I walked among hundreds of fellow Peterburians, noticed their youthfulness, was roundly thanked by them, and heard, in this case, the welcome honking of passing vehicles. Then we put my SHAME! sign on the door of Mr. Smith’s office, neither he nor his staff being there. The late, great Christian activist, Jim Anderson of Lakefield taught me to always have a “shame” sign handy. Conservative governments across this country are meriting their use more and more.
The seemingly-benign Doug Ford and his untalented ministers and caucus showed their true intents: weaken public institutions so that people will run to private ones. The benefits from this will go to the already well-to-do who invest in private services. As Mike Harris has done in the for-profit Chartwell Homes for seniors.
Ford is not adequately educated. This has been attested by people who have been around him. His transgressions in recent days include others which we bristle at. He broke his word about keeping the Green Belt free of development. CBC reporter Mike Crawley is looking into why so many developers purchased land recently in the once "hands -off " Green Belt, and to what extent they are frequent Ford donors.
When we elected this government last June - as activist Kathryn Langley points out - with about 17 per cent support, (that’s 40 per cent of the vote from four per cent of electors), so lackadaisical was the turnout observers predicted this sorry outcome.
Just as the Rouleau Inquiry in Ottawa is uncovering glaring weaknesses in our 3 police services, our election laziness reveals the sorry state of civic education in our population. This Premier and his Minister of Education should resign. Then they’d be free to turn up at Rouleau to tell the truth about their intents and decisions during the convoy crisis last winter.
"Gleanings" is Rosemary Ganley's new book. You can purchase directly from the author at email@example.com or from >Amazon<