The basic principle (or is that principal)
It is a well worn (out) sports analogy that the best defence is a good offence. Simply keep the puck or ball out of your own end and the other team can't do much damage. Nowhere is that more apparent than in the world of politics. In order to keep the critics from pounding away at your weakness, find an opponent or a cause to defeat and the public will always be sympathetic.
For governments, in this day and age, finding targets is not an easy thing but when all else fails you can always take aim at a big union that the public loves to hate. In years past there was the big postal union. Just a few years back it's Grand Poo-bah, Jean Claude Parrot, was the most hated man in Canada. He took his union out on strike and ground the country to a halt. Imagine, no mail. It may be hard to fathom in the era of email, texts and on-line everything but, back then, that was a very big deal. The government of the day did a bang up job of painting the postal workers as greedy and self serving. The federal PR campaign was masterful and the Canadian public sided with their political overlords in massive fashion.
Flash forward to 2012 (back to the future you might say) and our current provincial government is mired in economic quicksand...hanging tenuously to a minority and looking around for a viable scapegoat. They didn't have to look far. Teachers.
Teachers are always a great target. They are paid well, go home everyday at 3, have summers off and retire to humungous mansions in Florida at age 55. Who couldn't hate teachers? Besides, if those enormous pensions and benefits weren't enough...they owned a majority stake in the Toronto Maple Leafs! Curse them!!!
So the Liberals decided that they would draw a line in the sand with the union that everyone loved to hate and no one would pay any attention to their other financial shortcomings.
The Libs even have precedence on their side. In the late 90s the Mike Harris Tories were looking for ways to cut spending that was out of control and the education minister at the time, John Snobelen, famously talked of creating “a useful crisis” to reign in those pesky educators.
To be honest the teachers union can be its own worst enemy. The banking of sick days, for instance, is a perk that won't fly these days. Millions of Canadians don't get paid at all when they are sick let alone be able to bank the days and get a payout for sick days not taken. However, to impose a new contract on any labour union in this country without the benefit of negotiations is something we should all be concerned about.
I would wager that most rank and file teachers don't fall in lock step behind their union leaders and some of the more militant members. Most teachers are aware that they are well paid and have many benefits that others in Ontario can only dream of. What most teachers want in this case is the legal right to negotiate. To air their concerns without the threat of an imposed government contract.
Full disclosure here. I wouldn't want to be a teacher today. I've talked with teachers who are physically threatened, verbally abused by both students and parents and denied the ability to enforce any sort of discipline whatsoever. Teachers who are told to pass students who don't deserve to pass and are left high and dry by their administrators who are more concerned with politics than education.
And while we paint targets on their backs during this latest “useful crisis” lets not forget that it is a teacher that we expect to instruct, mold and inspire our most valuable of possessions.
Just because their pension plan made a laughing stock out of the Leafs is no reason to believe they are all bad. They just want a chance to negotiate...and regardless of what's in this legislation they shouldn't have that right taken away .