Governments these days aren't into labour relations. And so, Dalton McGuinty has torn a page out of Stephen Harper's playbook, ordering Ontario teachers back to work before they took strike action. As Tom Walkom writes this morning, this is about politics. There are two by-elections taking place in Ontario, and McGunity hopes his stand against teachers will restore his majority.
But, more importantly, McGuinty's Liberals have bought into the myth that austerity causes growth:
They are focusing on the province’s deficit, now $15 billion, rather than the economic circumstances that created this shortfall.
Those circumstances have to do with a faltering economy that through job loss and weakened consumer demand is starving government of revenues.
A far-sighted government would focus on restarting the economy and raising those revenues. A near-sighted government, like this one, focuses on reducing spending alone — with no thought as to how such cuts might further hobble the overall economy.
It's the same thinking which has brought Britain into recession a second time and the same thinking which Stephen Harper says will be Canada's salvation.
When I was in the classroom, I lived through six strikes -- four in Quebec and two in Ontario. I hated every one of them. They unleashed ugly feelings. They caused financial distress. We became the targets of public anger. But what I hated most was knowing that I was a political football.
That said, the strikes gave me a living wage. They gave me a pension. Most importantly, they gave me a future. Today's political godfathers want to abolish all three of these things. My children wonder if they have a shot at any of them.
Walkom is right: "This fight isn't just about teachers."