When you have a B.A. in Political Science with a specialization in Canadian politics and you have a passion for said politics and a whole bunch of unprecedented stuff happens at the same time, it’s actually kind of overwhelming.

First there was the whole second Trudeau, second time the Emergency Measures Act was ever used thing back in February. Now, in the middle of the inquiry into the use of the act, the Premier of Ontario has decided to go ahead and use the Notwithstanding Clause of the Constitution.

I learned in my undergrad classes that nobody ever uses the clause – Section 33 was put in place to help coax Quebec into signing on in 1982 – and Premier Ford has now attempted to use it three times in five years.

You see, the members of OSBCU set a deadline. They’ve been in negotiations with the government for months (possibly years, I have to double check that). Their members gave them a strike mandate and they filed for a No Board Report, which is what you do.

Unions get a strike mandate to give them more strength at the bargaining table when the employer, this is a normal part of the process in negotiations. The employer (the government in this case, specifically the Minister of Education) took great offence at this.

On Tuesday, November 1, the government announced back-to-work legislation for a union that was not yet on strike, legislated a contract on them – thereby defying their right to collective bargaining and their right to strike all in one neat package.

And because the government knows they are contravening the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, they threw on the NotwithStanding Clause, essentially saying “nah nah, can too.”

It’s not how the clause was meant to be used, and if we let this government get away with it, it opens the door to a whole lot of abuse by governments who would rather impose their will than try to come to any reasonable solution with people or groups they see as adversaries.

A very, very bad precedent.

For the first time in my life, I called the Premier’s office. If you do the same, be kind to the people answering the phones. The Minister keeps saying that parents are on the government’s side, I just don’t think that’s true and I’d like him to know.

Further reading:

Edward Keenan: We should be livid at how the Doug Ford government is treating school support staff

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