Dalton McGuinty asks Ontario teachers to have a heart

Matt Coutts
Daily BrewJanuary 8, 2013

Ontario’s premier is urging school teachers to resume coaching sports and supervising after-school groups, despite warnings from union leaders furious at having a contract forced upon them.

Dalton McGuinty says he expects extracurricular activities will resume because Ontario teachers are committed in "their heart of hearts" to the students.

“I believe that they find it difficult to hold themselves back and not give those students what we all see as part of an enriched, quality, publicly — funded education — after school and before school activities,” McGuinty is quoted saying by the Globe and Mail.

Not much has changed since the government used Bill 115 last week to impose contracts on two holdout teachers’ unions, freezing salaries and blocking the right to strike.

[ Related: Ontario Liberals impose contracts on teachers; unions call it 'disgraceful' ]

McGuinty said the legislation became a lightning rod, and promised to repeal it as a show of good faith to the teachers. The unions say that would be a hollow act. At best.

But an act of good faith is exactly what teachers need right now. They are being asked to end their last legal form of protest against the imposed contracts. They need a tangible sign that the Liberals want to make amends.

In a newsletter, the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario said members should continue their hold-out against voluntary activities.

The Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation has expressed similar sentiment.

That leaves McGuinty's plea — his "heart of hearts" proclamation — in direct conflict with the will of the unions.

The Globe reports that both unions will hold meetings on Wednesday to determine their paths forward — those could include a day of protest or a lobbying campaign.

[ Related: McGuinty asks unions to let teachers resume extracurricular activities ]

McGuinty remains premier until the end of January, when a new leader will be selected at the Liberal leadership convention.

The Toronto Star reports that Don Valley West MPP Kathleen Wynne is the current favourite in the leadership campaign, with former MPP Sandra Pupatello and former Liberal MP Gerard Kennedy her closest two competitors.

Wynne previously told Yahoo! Canada News that one of the key priorities for the next Liberal leader will be rebuilding relationships with the teachers’ unions.

There is some fear that that relationship continues to be antagonized.