Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Actually Born to Run

Papineau, Que MP Justin Trudeau is officially running for the leadership position of the Liberal Party of Canada. Although he did not formally announce it himself nor will he do so during the caucus retreat, Warren Kinsella broke the news on his website in August. On September 26, the Liberal Party tactfully leaked the announcement to Radio-Canada where Trudeau would make the bid official a week later in his riding. Remarkably, Trudeau's staff will only comprise of people under the age of 40. Trudeau, who is the Liberal Critic of Youth, Recreation, and Sport, has been rumoured to run for Liberal leader for a while now, ever since Bob Rae broke the news that he wasn't going for the top bid. In many ways, Trudeau is everything the Liberal Party could ask for in a leader: he's young, energetic, and is popular among Canadians. Like his father before him, Trudeau is charismatic and candid.

As many newspapers are wont to point out, Trudeau stands alone in this race and it is his and his alone to win. However, if the Liberals are going to make Trudeau shoulder all of the party's burdens, then they can forget about reclaiming the government on their own. For the sake of the Liberal Party, they simply cannot re-enter another phase of Trudeaumania, especially when it's all style and no substance. They tried to make saviours out of leaders twice already and both times ended up in abysmal failures. If the Liberal Party wants any chance at defeating the Tories come 2015, they need to form a coalition with the NDP (duh). Much to the left's chagrin, it's hard to believe this will happen anytime soon.

Now, for Trudeau as leader, his bid is an interesting one. First, it will be especially hard for the Tories or even the NDP to define Trudeau through their attack ads since Trudeau has done an adequate job of doing that himself. You can look no further to his bout with Conservative Senator Patrick Brazeau as proof. Although for charity, the match probably meant more to Liberals than anything they accomplished in Parliament. For the first time in a long time, people were rooting for a Liberal and they were excited for a Liberal and a Liberal delivered even when expectations were low. It drove momentum oddly enough, and guaranteed Trudeau as a star within Canadian politics. Even though he has done fairly little as an MP in his 4-year career, he still had the political courage and mettle to win and hold his riding in Papineau, a riding that was held by the Bloc Quebecois and was easily susceptible to the Orange Crush in 2011.  And of course, he probably said what we were all thinking to Conservative MP and Environment Minister Peter Kent during Question Period.

Second, Trudeau does have alternance by his side. Thought of as an antiquated and weak unwritten norm, alternance now is anything but with the Liberals completely wiped out of Quebec. In the Federal Level, the incumbent Liberal MPs were unseated by new and inexperienced NDP MPs. In the Provincial Level, the Liberal Party is embroiled in scandal and draconian measures as well as incompetent leadership. Therefore, when April rolls around and the Liberals head to the polls, they're probably going to feel more inclined to select a Francophone -- especially a popular Francophone like Trudeau -- to reestablish the party once again in Quebec.

But, what do we know about Trudeau, really? We know that he thinks calling honour killing 'barbaric' is wrong. And, we know that he thinks Environment Minister is a piece of shit. And, we know that he was once an actor and had facial hair once that was met with the displeasure of many Canadians, oddly enough. What his campaign can do is flesh and unpack his positions on issues that affect the country.

While I'll admit that the press has covered Trudeau abundantly, his entry is still something that Canadians need to reconsider. Will a fresh face mean a fresh, bold attitude for the Liberal Party? Will his youth propel the party to take more leftist ideologies? Where does Trudeau even stand on national security, the economy, and foreign policy? Canadians are already willing to give the Liberals a victory if it means Trudeau is at the helm even though we don't know how he feels about any of those things. Granted, there is still lots of time for us to find out.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

What the Stuff Is: The VP Debate, Why It Was Great and Why It Still Doesn't Matter

The media still can't get over the recent Vice-Presidential debate between Vice President Joe Biden and Republican Vice-Presidential nominee Paul Ryan. I can understand why -- it was pretty fiery and entertaining, especially when compared to the largely boring exchange between President Barack Obama and Republican Presidential Nominee Mitt Romney. As much as I enjoyed it, and as much as I believe that Biden won the debate, my original argument outlined in my last post still remains: debates don't matter. And, VP debates? They prove to be inconsequential to the actual outcome of the debate. Anyone who says otherwise is seriously fooling themselves.

Still, the debate has many people abuzzing about Biden's performance and Ryan's demeanor. Yes, Biden was pretty aggressive. He laughed and smiled and interrupted Ryan when he was giving his responses. For Democrats and liberals, it was purely cathartic. That's why liberals were going crazy over his performance: a Democrat finally had the balls to say what all Democrats are thinking about Ryan, Romney, and the Republicans. Biden not only used the facts but showed a stunning sense of exuberance and style and obviously made up for Obama's lacklustre performance.

The most interesting part about the debate's aftermath has to be the Republican's take on Biden's performance. They whined about his behaviour, that it was rude and outlandish and not Presidential -- meanwhile, Ryan can blatantly lie over and over again and that somehow makes him presidential. As Rachel Maddow pointed out, this always happen to the losing side: they begin a campaign to tarnish the opposing candidate in order to gain what they feel is their rightful victory. The Obama campaign did this last time, she said, with Obama supporters starting the phrase "testy Mitt." And now, we see the GOP -- a party whose candidates have snapped at moderators or attracts viewers that boo an openly gay soldier or cheer an uninsured man dying -- complaining about rudeness and disrespect.


The VP debates -- like all debates, really -- may be insignificant to the overall race, but as I've said before, they are perfect displays of the type of race we have on our hands. Biden, Ryan's own fact-checker, pushed the facts: that it is better than how it was four years ago, that relations with Israel is stable, that sanctions on Iran are stronger than they ever were, and that the Republicans would totally cripple the lower-class by privatizing Social Security and MediCare. Ryan, on the other hand, continued the inchoate character that plagued him since his convention speech, one of an unbelievable liar.

As Biden said as he turned and looked straight into the camera, "folks, use your common sense."

Sunday, October 7, 2012

A Debate Abate

I have things to say about the first Presidential Debate held on October 3, 2012.

It was boring, for one, filled with an inordinate amount of political wonkiness that the average American viewer could not comprehend because 1) neither candidates opted to define the fancy terms they were using and 2) the moderator, Jim Lehrer, couldn't get a word in between President Barack Obama and Republican Presidential Nominee Mitt Romney to discuss with viewers what something like the Bowles-Simpson Commission was.

And two, the media has done a really ridiculous job on the debate's coverage. It has always been evident that American media treats the politics as if it's some sort of circus, a fact that's even more stark compared to the passive treatment by journalists of our government on this side of the border. But, this time it just was completely absurd. CNN was running "debate-eve" pre-game shows replete with political pundits and commentators churning out their partisan-based predictions. There was non-stop discussion about the importance and impact of debates on presidential races, a discussion that seems to replicate the illusion of placing two mirrors in front of each other to get endless reflections. It was -- without exaggeration -- a debate about a debate about a debate.

Remember, this is before the debate even started.

When it finally did, we were greeted with a lucklustre affair on both sides, not just one as much as the media likes to point out. Was Obama not as charismatic as he could've been? Yes. Was Obama faced with an abundant amount of opportunities to press Romney about his claims and mistruths? Yes. Totally. But, was Romney presenting the facts? Hardly.

I hate to say that Obama lost the debate so I won't. And, I hate to say that Romney won the debate so I won't either. What I will say is this: in the grander scheme of things, that is, a sprawling election campaign that is over a year old, the debates really don't matter anymore.

I'm not arguing that debates have never mattered since they undoubtedly have. There is the infamous case with Richard Nixon and his sweating upper lip during his debate with John F. Kennedy as an example. Not to mention, George H.W. Bush's response to a citizen about how the recession has been affecting him, personally. These were game-changers -- if I were to use that seemingly innocuous word now.

But now, with the over-saturated media climate we inhabit, debates don't matter anymore. It is mostly the fault of the over-saturated, 24 hour news cycle that constantly presents the viewer with a deluge of information -- some important, some not important -- within each broadcast. It also has to do with the emergence of social-media as a way to get news instantly and to talk about its ramifications on a platform that can reach audiences around the world. And of course, it has to do with the new class of punditocracy telling people what to think when to think.

The debates are also very late in the election cycle, when early voting is already underway and when most voters already know who they want to vote for. Now, are debates a great way in showing the contrast between the two candidates? Of course they are. But, debates aren't the only platform that do this. We've seen these two candidates on the stump, on the trail, and on the screen for over a year. We know them. We know where they agree and we know where they disagree on. All we're waiting for is something momentous to happen that may catapult one candidate to victory.

I have to object to the media's constant speculation as to what dampened Obama's performance. As I've stated before, Obama could've been better. He could've challenged Romney more and he could brought up things like Bain Capital or his "47% remarks." He could've brought up his record as Massachusetts Governor, he could've brought up the record of his running mate Paul Ryan. Yes, he could've done these things. What Obama chose to do instead was present the facts, unreservedly and unabashedly, something that Romney did not do at all.

To wit, here are some of the blatant mistruths in Romney's debate answers:
-First off, he is proposing a $5 trillion dollar tax cut which would include the wealthiest Americans which would then shift the burden onto the middle class. However, he denied this even though you can find it everywhere.
-He decried ObamaCare even though his model in Massachusetts is exactly identical. As Former President Bill Clinton said, "it takes a lot of brass to call someone out on something you did."
-He mentioned that ObamaCare made over $716 billion dollar in cuts when the plan proposed by his running mate would make the exact same cuts. Not to mention, it's always very odd when a Republican is criticizing a Democrat for making cuts to an entitlement program.
-And lastly, and this is important, Obama has done things that have started to put the American economy back on track. America is better off now than they were four years ago. The jobs report released on Friday only bolsters this claim as unemployment is now at its lowest level.

However, everyone still presses on saying the Romney won the debate decisively and that we've entered into a whole different ball game or horse race or another poorly attributed sports metaphor. 

Debates only prove a sad reality: that you don't have to be right to win.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Ban She: Rona Ambrose on M312

I'm going to do two things with this post, one will be brief and the other will be more in-depth.

First, Conservative MP Steven Woodworth's motion calling for a debate on the commencement of life was defeated in House of Commons on Wednesday night 203-91. Woodworth himself didn't think that the motion would get much support and he was right. Prime Minister Stephen Harper himself voted against the motion. And, we all know where the Opposition stands.

Second, the vote that really encountered a whirlwind of vitriol, alarm, and overall frenzy was that of Minister for the Status of Women Rona Ambrose who voted in favour of the motion. NDP MP Libby Davis rightfully called for her resignation. In fact, in the House of Commons the next day, when Ambrose answered a question from the Opposition, she brought up the point that it had been the first time in over the year that she was questioned about her role as Minister of Status of Women. She claims it's because she was doing a good job. The Opposition responded with, "you're useless." And, the NDP is right. Harper has rendered the Minister of Status of Women as a meaningless position, one so small that it can be held alongside another, more "important" position like public works. Reputable women's group has decried this government's actions on women's equality and rights and that's because it is, as I detailed in this post here.

Ambrose is entitled to believe what she wants but she should really consider what her position entails. As Minister of Status of Women, she is more than just the embodiment of a decorum position, occupying space in photo-ops and tweeting about her experiences. She is supposed to be the minister who is in charge of advancing women's rights in Canada. And, as far as I can tell, she hasn't, in fact, been doing a good job. It's only made worse when you have Conservative-sympathizers at the National Post critiquing the Ambrose's critics. 

To isolate that National Post article, it left me absolutely stunned. That article is not a defense of Ambrose's feminism or feminism in general in any way shape or form. It simply is not. Want proof? The columnist said Ambrose is "a better kind of feminist" than the women who rightfully critique her for voting in favour of the committee. That notion is completely and utterly regressive and flat-out dumb. It shows feminism as a type of skill or challenge that some are more capable of doing than others: "these women here are bad at feminism, and these women here are good at feminism." She is absolutely divisive and counter-intuitive when discussing feminism which is supposed to be about the empowerment of all women. The wonderful, wonderful Canadian feminist blog GenderFocus offers a great rebuttal to the backlash of the backlash.

By limiting the options of women, Ambrose does not do justice to her position. To call for her resignation, however, would be futile and just standard Parliamentary procedure. But, she needs to be held account for what her vote entailed and what it meant to the current Canadian psyche regarding feminism and reproductive rights. The popular claim pushed by the Conservatives is that Ambrose was spreading advocacy over sex-selection abortion, a practice that occurs around the world and in Canada among immigrants.

As a feminist, I believe sex-selection abortion is wrong (duh). The solution, then, wouldn't necessarily be to put bans on abortion and infusing it with more inaccessibility. That would hurt many women, mostly young, low-income, minority women. The solution would be to foster more empowerment among women all over the world -- starting with Canada. Canada should be a country that would set the example for more countries to follow when it comes to treatment of women. Canada should be the country that helps more women in countries where they normally would be subjugated to abuse and oppression.

But, we're not. We have an ample amount of opportunity to grow and prosper, here. But, we're not the country we should be -- or could be -- when it comes to protecting women's rights. And one of the biggest barriers seems to be the Minister for the Status of Women herself.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Globe and Fail, Part 2: Wentegate

What blogger and University of Ottawa professor Carol Wainio is doing is completely right and valid and should be given the praise it deserves and then some. She not only exposed serial Globe and Mail columnist Margaret Wente of plagiarism but continually shows the blatant laziness and lack of integrity of the national newspaper she writes for. Despite Wente's inconsistencies and "slip-ups," she remains a vital part of the Globe and Mail editorial team. She doesn't get excused nor punished nor questioned by her editors at length. Why? Well, she actually was "punished" by editor John Stackhouse. However, nobody is sure what Wente's punishment entails and if it will actually teach her a lesson. If Wente was a starting journalist making these mistakes -- failing to attribute, stealing quotes, etc. -- she would be finished, as Jonah Lehrer himself discovered this past summer. Hey, even a veteran seasoned journalist with an abundant amount of respect like Fareed Zakaria can get docked for plagiarism. It doesn't matter that he's the Editor-at-Large at Time Magazine, or the author of The Post-American World, or the host of CNN's Global Public Square. He cheated so he gets punished.

Wente wrote a defensive column about Wainio's "allegations" today in the Globe. I must say, what she says boggles my mind and not just because I'm studying journalism. It mostly boggles my mind because, like a lot of people, I read the news. As consequence, it's completely egregious to read a journalist passively dismissing their mistakes as if it happens all the time: "It's just the way it is." Moreover, Wente references the content of her articles, that she gets unfairly targeted sometimes because people disagree with what she says. Yes, Wente is notorious for spouting unfavourable opinions but her content is besides the point. I can disagree with Wente -- and I often do -- but if she conducts her journalism with the highest standards, meaning upholding accuracy, then I can't say she's doing anything wrong, per se. According to Wente, anybody who calls her out on her plagiarism must hate her already because of her opinions. According to Wente, Wainio must've read too many of her infuriating columns and launched this personal vendetta against her. In her "apology," Wente comes off as hostile, defensive, and haughty instead of modest and remorseful.

Yes, mistakes are made in the papers. However, the onus is on the journalist and the editor to ensure it never happens again. It not only engenders a sense of distrust in the paper and in journalism as a whole, but it completely tarnishes the reputation of a writer and the paper he or she works for. This is obvious. This is fact. I don't see why The Globe and Mail is exempt from this rule.

If the Globe and Mail's decision to keep Wente on board is purely based on financial gain, then as far as I'm concerned the Globe is just as bad as the National Post.

It's pathetic that in Canada, we can't even have a national newspaper that we can trust 100% of the time, that is all encompassing of all viewpoints while at the same time having top-notch reporters covering each beat with enthusiasm, clarity, and accuracy. As I've stated before in the past, the only reliable and tolerable newspaper we have in Canada is The Toronto Star. Speaking of newspapers, I heard on The Current today that the mainstream media has not been taking a more active role in covering this story which is true. Only now has Wentegate stretched out of social media and into the media institutions within public life. If journalists really are the fourth estate, then they need to afflict the comfortable here, even if that includes their own colleagues. Media institutions -- like the Globe and Mail -- are still companies with a business motive and should therefore be scrutinized routinely so that people understand the truth. For a newspaper, understanding the truth about where you get your news is of vital importance.

But, newspapers are no longer becoming the only source of information. In fact, they're one of the last sources ordinary people consult when it comes to gathering data and opinions. According to Poynter Institute, more than half of Americans use the internet for news while readership in media has dropped significantly. The Wente case elegantly and effectively shows the problems of print media and why journalism should be striving to use more digital platforms for sharing the news. With digital media, it's much easier to hold writers accountable since online readership is larger therefore more people with different areas of expertise would be readily available to point out inconsistencies. By having a simple Google search at the fingertips, anyone can just copy and paste a questionable statement into the search engine and see if results pop up showing similar if not identical stories. In addition, it's much easier for the host website to make adjustments to the original story, not to mention less embarrassing since they don't have to run a Correction Notice in thousands upon thousands of newspapers.

The Globe and Mail used to be a centrist and sensible newspaper and, occasionally, they still have bursts of insight. Where else but the Globe and Mail could ordinary Canadians read about ending Canada's Mexican myopia? Where else could they have read the Globe's interview with Enrique Pena Nieto, the President-elect of Mexico? They could've gone online, or they could've read it in their favourite newspaper on the commute. The Globe and Mail has already started to rectify one particular issue: the Public Editor, which was recently created, now has to report to the publisher not the Editor-in-Chief, a change that will streamline this whole process and will avoid any further complications.

But, this is not enough.

The Globe and Mail needs to either 1) Work out a better arrangement with Wente if they're so keen on keeping her on. An arrangement could consist of lightening Wente's load so that she doesn't have to write 3 columns a week, if that's the underlining problem to her carelessless. Instead, she could do more investigative and feature work. Or 2) Fire Wente.

If she's fired, then the Globe wouldn't have to worry about this ever again. If she's fired, then Wente couldn't do more damage to her career since it would be effectively finished. If she's fired, then maybe The Globe and Mail would smarten up next time.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Real Mitt Romney Has Stood Up

Mother Jones really does offer smart, fearless journalism. Earlier this week, the liberal magazine unearthed a video of Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney at a fundraiser dinner in May saying the following comments:
There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that's an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what…These are people who pay no income tax.
[M]y job is is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.
But, it doesn't stop there. Romney goes on wishing that he had Mexican parents in order to secure the Latino vote. He talks about being born with a silver spoon in his mouth, something he claims could only be done in America. He calls Obama "corrupt" and "a disappointment." He brags about his consultants who have ties with Israel President Benjamin Netanyahu. He believes that Palestine is not equipped to bring peace to the table with their conflict with Israel. He claims that Iran will invoke a nuclear threat by unleashing a "dirty bomb," something that actually could be conceived without a strong nuclear program since it can be made from radioactive waste. He implies that President Barack Obama apologizes worldwide for the values America upholds as part of his foreign policy. He criticizes Obama for dividing the nation and proclaiming class warfare, when he himself just did by bringing up his 47% statistic.

These are pretty damaging things for a political campaign, almost beyond repair. But, of course, for that to happen, the media needs to cover this story with enough fervor in order for the American public to grasp the magnitude of what exactly Romney is saying since he is, after all, writing off close to half of the US population.

This is going to be known as the week Romney lost the 2012 Presidential Election.

He's calling half of the American population free-loading moochers who want the government to do everything for them. Yes, these free-loading 47 percenters who don't pay income tax because their income is just too low or because they're elderly. These people who vote for Obama because they feel "entitled" to things like health, food, and housing. These people are wrong, Romney says, and he doesn't care about them. Why should he care about these poor people who don't take responsibility for their lives? This is only exacerbated by the fact that Romney said this among close, wealthy friends at a  fundraiser dinner. The popular sentiment here is that Romney comes off as "a sneering plutocrat," clinking his wine glass as he hobnobs with the 1%.

Romney, not Obama, is the one being divisive by calling off and dismissing half of the American people.

In contrast, Obama has been the president of unity, in a way. His 2004 keynote address at the Democratic National Convention brilliantly stated that there is no black America, or white America, or Latino America, or Asian America, but the United States of America. He was the president of Yes We Can. Change We Can Believe In. In his presidency, Obama sought to bring both parties together in order to solve America's deepest problems, but to no avail. In fact, you have Republican House Leader Mitch McConnell saying that the number one concern for his party would be not to create jobs, not to repair the crippling economy, but to make sure Obama is finished. That notion, apart from being completely odious, is divisive and unpatriotic. In this sense, it is the Republicans who are dividing America by making a clear distinction between the President, who is out to destroy America -- literally destroy it since Romney/Ryan have focused on bringing America back, whatever that means -- and them, the saviours.

The popular Republican talking point is that Obama wants to start on war on those that are successful: class warfare. I think it was Deval Patrick who stated at this year's DNC that asking the wealthy to pay more in taxes isn't tax warfare, it's patriotism. It's the Democrats, it's Obama, who are actually saying We Built That -- together for everyone -- not the Republicans. If any party is engaging in class warfare, it's the GOP. Romney is demonizing those who receive entitlement programs, his running mate wants to end MediCare as we know it, and both of them are interested in shifting the tax burden onto the middle-class while the top 1% literally pay nothing. If this isn't war on the lower-class, then I don't know what is.

After these comments surfaced, the choice between the two candidates couldn't be more clear or more stark. On one hand, you have one candidate who wants to help everyone in America get a fair shot at success, whether that is starting and owning a small business or earning an education. You have a candidate who brought health-care to millions of Americans, 6.6 million young people alone. You have a candidate who made America a safehaven for 2.1 million undocumented young immigrants who wish to study in the United States. You have a candidate who made it easier for women to gain equal pay for equal work.

And then, you have a candidate who doesn't believe that Americans should be entitled to food.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Teachers and Unions and Unions and Teachers

So, the Liberals defy the nay-sayers and go against the union who provided the bulk of their support for over a decade all in the hopes of keeping the Ontario economy afloat. Earlier last week, the Liberals passed Bill 115, legislation that would make it illegal for Ontario teachers to strike and collectively bargain. This, of course, is completely incredulous and resembles Conservative tactic in the Mike Harris days -- although, I concede that Harris was much, much worse. What Dalton McGuinty is doing is playing roughshod politics with a faction group he does not want to spar with. The Ontario teachers union has developed into a pretty powerful organization who has the crutch of citing the interests of the student whenever they're faced with some opposition. But, sometimes they do the exact opposite. Right now, the teachers abruptly halted any voluntary after-school activities they head as retaliation. Students, then, are the pawns in the middle of their feud. Interestingly enough, the students are the ones protesting and taking up the activist cause as exemplified by students at Sir Robert Borden in Ottawa. Now, as of Saturday, the teachers' unions have started to voice their concerns through public demonstrations.

As pro-union, I am firmly against the Liberals' move to nullify the teachers' ability to strike. This is, after all, their constitutional right. However, thanks to the Liberals, teachers' wages have increased exponentially due to his consistent support and Ontario teachers are revered across the nation for their livable and equitable benefits. Case in point, when BC teachers went on strike, they often cited Ontario teachers for the model they would like to have implemented in their own province. But, by openly criticizing the Liberals, the teachers' union are left with a precarious situation in which they could see the majority of their members heading straight for an alternative. An alternative in this case be the next party in line: the Tim Hudak Conservatives. This was something that happened before in Ontario, when NDP Leader Bob Rae was Premier and imposed a series of "Rae Days," or unpaid vacation days. This blogger does an excellent job of contextualizing the issue by comparing the austerity measures during Harris with austerity under McGuinty. The two do not compare, concludes the blogger, and that by turning their back on the Liberals, the teachers face an even greater risk: a Conservative government.

But, instead of actually reflecting on the travesty that was the Harris Common Sense Revolution, teachers are already decrying Bill 115 and McGuinty as "worse than Mike Harris." Hopefully, this one source doesn't speak on behalf of the teachers' union because this notion could not be more wrong.

Instead of puffing their chests and lashing out, the teachers should wake up from their political amnesia and grit and bear it for a while, lest they open the doors for a swift interception by Hudak. Teachers in Ontario get paid -- on average -- $86, 865, the second highest among teachers' unions in Canada, according to their 2011 Collective Agreement. Ontario teachers make almost $10,000 more than teachers in Saskatchewan and almost $20,000 more than their counterparts in P.E.I. Whether teachers deserve that money is whole other question. They've put in the hours in completing their education and obviously the effort to creating a lesson plan for their students. Although, it's true that there are some bad teachers out there who don't make the material engaging or interesting but aren't penalized because they're protected by the union. That's a problem, but a fair solution shouldn't be to demonize the entire union which conservatives are wont to do, but to adapt better evaluative procedures to weed out the ineffective teachers.

Anyways, teachers have consistently been making more and more money ever since McGuinty came into power in 2000, something that Anna Maria Tremonti pointed out to a representative of the teachers union as a cause of Ontario's deficit. The Liberals also implemented better benefits for the teachers to enjoy, most notably their pension plan which gives them a comfortable retirement after their teaching career. As the self-proclaimed "Education Premier," McGuinty has concentrated his efforts on securing higher performance rates for elementary and high-school students, which he has successfully accomplished, generally speaking. The point I'm trying to make is that the teachers comfortable lifestyle, better than most people in Ontario since we're suffering from a 7.8% unemployment rate.

Most people in Ontario can't empathize with the teachers' unions mostly due to their cozy relationship with the Liberals in all these years. They have a good pay, secured benefits, and a comfortable -- albeit not that generous -- pension. Irregardless, the pension is better than most working-class people in Ontario. When discussing the robbery of the right to strike, well, it seems like most people in Ontario face that same problem. Nurses can't strike and they're arguably faced with stressful working conditions. Ontario used to rely on manufacturing for their economy, but now, the majority of employment seems to be in retail or temporary work and most of those people can't strike. Moreover, it certainly doesn't help matters when you have an Ontario MP calling for the start of 'voluntary' unions. 

As I've said before, in no way do I support the Liberals' disempowerment of the teachers' constitutional right to collective bargain. If the teachers are being mismanaged and handled unfairly while putting in the hours to educate and coach, then striking is the only reasonable action if negotiation breaks down. But, the fact is, the teachers aren't in that position in this province. As I've said, they make a good wage with equally good benefits with good vacation time. Of course, the job is never easy. But, what job is these days? Teachers have to deal with mountains of marking, individual needs of the students, and any voluntary positions they hold to make the year enjoyable. However, most teachers don't have to live paycheque to paycheque. Most teachers don't have to feel that they have to make a choice between rent or food. But I stress: this does not mean that their right to bargain should be suspended, even for a short period of time.

The Liberals -- at least the McGuinty liberals -- have duped themselves in betraying their key support group this time around. If they don't see public approval angling their way, they only have themselves to blame. The past by-election in Kitchener-Waterloo is emblematic enough of how weary people are of giving the Liberals a majority, especially when they're not even trying too hard. The winner, the NDP's Catherine Fife, single-handedly got to know her constituents and ran a great campaign. Since McGuinty permanently severed ties with the teachers, this means that the teachers can look to the NDP to be their party since the NDP are the party of unions. This means that -- potentially -- the NDP could land a victory and score a mandate in Ontario once again. And as for the Ontario PCs? Well, their only support is confined with the rural areas of Ontario.

McGuinty may have lost the teachers indefinitely but it's up to the teachers to realize who are and who aren't their allies.