Doug Ford is setting himself up for failure. He's looking at province wide teachers' strikes because he has failed to learn the lessons of recent history. Martin Regg Cohn writes:
Like Harris before him — and without learning the lessons of McGuinty after that — our current premier has set the stage for confrontation.
With a difference. In their defence, the Liberals in 2012, like the PCs and NDP in the 1990s, were facing undeniable constraints — a recession, a runaway budget, and an economic crisis.
Today’s Tories, not so much. To be sure, there is a debt overhang, but the deficit figures are dramatically overstated — literally and figuratively speaking:
Ford's wildly overstated deficit makes his claim that the province faces a fiscal emergency a fiction. However, the Tories just passed legislation limiting pay increases in the public sector to 1%. That tactic has been tried before:
Joining hands with the opposition Tories, [Dalton] McGuinty’s minority government pre-emptively legislated restrictions on [teachers] collective bargaining rights. The Liberals won the day only to lose years later when the courts reinforced Charter rights for free collective bargaining unimpeded by political meddling.
Governments of all stripes have difficulty with collective bargaining -- because it requires creative solutions, not blanket proclamations. The Ford government likes to trumpet blanket proclamations. But creative solutions are its Achilles Heel.
Image: Silver Strand Rope Works