Anti-Bill 115 protest greets Ontario Grit leadership hopefuls

Teachers and other groups make cars wait to get into the parking lot as they protest outside of the Ajax Convention Centre in Ajax, ON where candidates debates for the leadership of the Ontario Liberal Party were held on Sunday Jan. 6, 2013.



AJAX, ON -- Teachers sent Ontario's Liberals a message Sunday: Pick a leader who opposes Bill 115.

More than 200 secondary and elementary school teachers, as well as parents and supporters, chanted and waved picket signs for more than two hours Sunday outside the Ajax Convention Centre, where the Liberal leaders debate was taking place.

"We've been mistreated under Bill 115," Grade 12 teacher Dave Pickering said at the protest.

"The candidates should know local negotiations historically have worked well for us. The last thing we want to do is be out here -- but they've put us in a position where they've taken away our rights."

Education Minister Laurel Broten said last week that she would repeal the controversial legislation she used to impose contracts on thousands of striking teachers and education workers.

"Laurel is a liar," Dave Barrowclough, president of District 13 of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation, said to the sounds of cheers.

"Repealing is kind of like throwing the gun away after the murder. The people inside that building better think about the future of the province."

Despite the pledge to repeal Bill 115, the atmosphere at schools will be tense, according to the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO).

"How can something be repealed when we're going to be living with the results of that bill for the next two years?" said Sikku Meldrum, the second vice-president of the ETFO's Durham local.

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