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Ford, Lecce don’t have to choose between democratic rights and keeping students in class

Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce answers questions from the media in the Ontario Legislature on Monday.

I’m a bit too aware of excuses being made for the violation of democratic rights in Ontario.

I used to be born on the tail finish of Brazil’s 21-year dictatorship, whose collapse marked my childhood, and my early tutorial work, and first e-book, centered on democratization processes. These experiences have taught me that when politicians say they don’t have a selection, that’s often an indication of worse issues to return.

Democracy is, in some ways, about selections.

Individuals select their representatives in authorities via free and honest elections. Additionally they select take part — or to not take part — in civil society and political life.

You are reading: Ford, Lecce don’t have to choose between democratic rights and keeping students in class

Elected officers make coverage selections day-after-day. In doing so, they contemplate the pursuits of their voting base, methods for stay in energy, and the social gathering’s ideology. As an elected authorities, that is their prerogative.

However politicians should stand by the alternatives they make. Saying “we don’t have a selection” is disingenuous — there are all the time choices. It is usually harmful as a result of that argument has justified horrendous authorities actions all through historical past.

Minister of Training Stephen Lecce has gone there.

Training staff are asking for an 11.7 per cent wage improve. CUPE, the union that represents them, contends common wages ($39,000) are too low, have fallen 10 per cent behind inflation up to now years and imply a lot of their staff expertise deprivation.

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The rise would price an estimated $240 million a yr, or 0.1 per cent of the federal government’s complete projected income for 2022-23.

Premier Doug Ford and the Ontario authorities rejected their demand. Earlier this week, the Lecce affirmed in a public assertion that, “we can have no different selection however to introduce laws tomorrow, which is able to make sure that college students stay in school.”

How about all the opposite completely different selections that every one earlier governments made use of on this very same scenario?

How in regards to the $7.5 billion in annual income cuts the federal government authorized between 2018 and 2022? The current elimination of the license plate sticker charges, for instance, will price $1.1 billion a yr, or greater than 4 occasions what CUPE is asking.

The Ontario authorities could determine that training staff don’t deserve what they’re asking for. However it can’t say it doesn’t have a selection in the way it responds to these calls for.

One other assertion by the minister that in all probability caught the attention of individuals with expertise or data of non-democratic regimes was, “our authorities will do no matter it takes to maintain college students in school.”

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Actually, no matter it takes?

What if to do that you needed to infringe on folks’s political rights? Or restrict folks’s freedom of affiliation? Or disregard folks’s proper to be freed from discrimination? By invoking the however clause to revoke training staff’ proper to strike, the federal government is saying Sure to the primary query.

It’s a slippery slope, as historical past teaches us solely too nicely.

The Ontario authorities selected to implement tax cuts. It selected not to fulfill the calls for of training staff. And it’s now selecting to hinder staff’ rights to determine their very own course of political motion.

The issue is, in democracies, one individual’s selections cease at one other individual’s rights. And that completely applies to governments. It should.

My son is turning into considering my background. He is aware of that I grew up in a special place known as Brazil, however doesn’t fairly know what which means. This Friday, I’m taking him out of the classroom to a picket line for a lesson on historical past and democracy.

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