People need to be made award of the crisis which is rapidly approaching in education due to the actions of the Mike Harris government.
The minister of education and training, John Snobelen, is notorious for his remark that he intended to create a crisis in education in this province. Well, that crisis is weeks—or perhaps only days—away.
The proposed legislation in Bill 136, and the companion legislation to it, has served only to unite teachers and other public-sector workers in this province in their opposition to the government’s actions. Not only are teachers and other public-sector workers under attack but the government threatens the very existence of the education system and other essential services in Ontario as they presently exist.
Teachers and other public-sector workers have repeatedly offered to co-operate with the government in the reform of the education system and other public services—but not in their destruction. The Harris government seems determined to have a showdown with the teachers and workers of this province. They apparently have chosen confrontation and conflict over conciliation and dialogue.
Teachers and public-sector workers have made it very clear to the Mike Harris government that if they proceed with their intended legislation, teachers and workers will have no other option but to strike. Let’s be clear about this. The government has refused to negotiate in good faith, and seems determined on a course of action which it knows full well will cause untold damage to public education and to community services.
Teachers and other public-sector workers are not asking for anything. They seek to gain nothing. They don’t want to walk out. They would rather stay on the job and in the classroom. Mike Harris is provoking teachers and other public-sector workers into drastic action that they have sought for years to avoid.
It appears the only thing which can avoid a lengthy work stoppage is a public backlash against the Harris government. I urge parents, students, and general public to call or write their local MPP. I urge them, as well, to contact the premier directly and ask him not to force the teachers out of the schools and workers off the job.
The premier’s office telephone number is 1-416-325-1941. His after-hours answering service number is 1-416-325-7961. His fax number is 1-416-325-3745.
Rudolf K.F. Zeitlhofer