If the Ontario government won’t lock down the province, the unions will

In light of the CUPE strike, who’s really in charge in Ontario? A democratically-elected government or the unions?

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The province of Ontario was riddled with a sociopolitical dumpster fire in recent days after Canada’s largest union threatened to shut the province down if its demands were not met. 

Across Canada, public and private sector unions were colluding to shut down the province in defiance of what is being referred to as unconstitutional infringements of workers' rights by the Doug Ford Progressive conservative government.

The same unions that have been silent, at the very least, or at worst in favour of indiscriminate COVID-19 vaccine mandatessaw the mass discrimination of workers based on personal and confidential medical choices.

Bodily autonomy and the right to informed choice are apparently constitutionally protected, but wage raises to compensate for inflation due to the lockdowns that the same workers complied with are kosher. 

This all started when Canada’s largest union, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), proposed an 11.7% raise for all their members, every year for the next four years, in response to contract negotiations that began on August 31.

When negotiations continued to fall apart at the end of October, and strike action was announced, Premier of Ontario Doug Ford introduced heavy handed legislation under Bill 28, titled the “Keeping Students in Class Act,” which condemned the strike as illegal and aimed to impose hefty fines on union members – up to $4,000/day. 

The Union then changed their semantics and called the strike a political protest instead. Of course, all under the guise of being “for the children.” 

The same children who have been out of school more in the last two years than they’ve been in, thanks to this same governments’ COVID-19 response. 

Children in Ontario were victims of the harshest, longest, and most unscientific school closures in all of North America.

In response to the legislation tabled by the Ford Government, CUPE called their union members “To arms.” 

Protesters took to the streets in Toronto on Saturday, November 5. They shut down a major intersection at Young and Dundas square, causing traffic chaos, and the General Vice President for CUPE’s Ontario Executive Board, Fred Hahn, addressed the crowd with radical language about fighting and winning in a fight against a democratically elected government which leaves one wondering, especially after the invocation of martial law against the trucker protest, would this be the face of a brewing insurrection? 

Fred Hahn says he cares about workers' rights but CUPE Ontario explicitly counter-protested the trucker convoy that took to Ottawa to protest the infringements of the Government on their right to bodily autonomy and informed choice. 

They called them white supremacists, bigots; members held signs like “pro-vaccines, anti-fascists” while bigotedly supporting vaccine mandates and aligned with the smearing, censoring and otherwise silencing of anyone who so much as questioned the scientific rationale or ethics of this response. Almost like a …. fascist? 

Nonetheless, the union flexed its muscles and received $1 million in funding from the British Columbia Teachers Federation to continue their potentially illegal strike … or protest. 

They received an additional $100,000 from UNIFOR to offset the potential fines.

Citing escalation, if the Government doesn’t back down, could the combined $1.1 million in funding be loosely defined as financial interference to support efforts to resist a democratically elected government’s apparently overreaching infringements?

Surprisingly, none of the participants had their bank accounts seized, were fined or imprisoned. 

The Ford government has instead promised to revoke Bill 28 so long as CUPE continues negotiations and ends the strike. 

Oddly, this was the same offer put on the table last week which CUPE refused. 

The disruptive closure of schools could have been avoided if CUPE had agreed to what they agreed to this week, last week. 

For now, Ontario’s school children are back in class. At least temporarily, and hopefully uninterrupted. That is, until teacher contracts are up in February 2023. 

But suffice to say – who runs this province? Democratically elected officials, or powerful public and private sector unions with seemingly endless funding? 

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  • By Tamara Ugolini

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