Straight Talk
EDITORIAL - Hudak schools his opponents

Ontario Conservative Leader Tim Hudak speaks to the media at the Ray Friel Recreation Complex in Ottawa, ON Tuesday Jan 22, 2013.



Someone has to take on Ontario's teacher unions in the next provincial election and you can bet it won't be the Liberals or the NDP.

In fact, the only party making sense on the education file is the Progressive Conservatives under Tim Hudak.

The Liberals are desperate to make up with the teacher unions, given their recent lovers' quarrel over Bill 115, which imposed contracts, froze salaries and reduced some benefits.

That means job one for the next Liberal leader, to be chosen this weekend, will be to suck up to the teacher unions heading into the next election.

Inevitably, the new Liberal premier is going to get into a bidding war with the NDP's Andrea Horwath to win their backing.

That's because both parties are desperate to secure the multi-million dollar advertising war chests and huge rosters of volunteers the teacher unions bring to every election campaign.

Don't expect them to take on the unions.

By contrast, Hudak is advocating sensible ideas such as rewriting the Education Act to make marking report cards and conducting parent interviews a mandatory part of a teacher's job.

Indeed, it's absurd that these fundamental duties of a teacher are today defined as mere frills, which can be withdrawn at will as part of a labour protest.

Hudak also wants to reward teachers who provide extra-curricular activities to their students by allowing school boards and principals to provide them with non-monetary compensation, such as less supervision time and relief from other duties.

Finally, Hudak would make it illegal for teacher unions to fine their members if they fail to toe the union line in labour disputes.

In their fight with the Liberal government over Bill 115, for example, the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario threatened to fine teachers who didn't obey its instructions up to $500 a day.

ETFO also threatened to "name and shame" any teacher who disobeyed its marching orders, which can destroy the career of a teacher whose only sin is refusing to use his or her students as pawns in a labour dispute.

Enough is enough. Someone has to take on these teacher unions and Hudak deserves credit for being the only political leader in Ontario with the courage to do it.

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