The Big Red Machine slowly begins to unravel. Highlighted by the payouts for the recent negotiations between the government, school boards, and unions, the Schoolyard Scandal slowly begins to widen. The payouts to teacher federations by the Ontario Liberal government is close to $66 million over the past 10 years. Below is a chart that outlines the contributions by year to the four teacher federations, and the Ontario Teacher Federation which is the umbrella group for all the teacher federations. The staggering numbers point to new questions about the contributions to the federations and the quid pro quo of the federations for the Ontario Liberals during the 2007, 2011, and 2014 General Elections.
There are a number of things to point out. First, 2007 was an election year. In that year, seemingly for the first time, the Ontario Liberals contributed some $28 million to the federations. In 2006 and 2008, only the French teacher federation received funding, but everyone else was in for a hefty sum for the first time in 2007. It seems completely out of place. Second, 2007 saw massive investment by organized labour into the Working Families Coalition. The impression that government money could have been used to funnel money into third-party anti-PC (the Liberals main political opponent) political interests forms the basis for allegations of corruption. And third, what ought to be said is that Kathleen was education minister in 2007. She must have authorized convenient, one time spending to political supporters in an election year.
Interesting to see that after Kathleen Wynne leaves the education portfolio in 2010, the money for unions dries up. In 2012, Wynne wins the leadership with the support of the teacher federations. She said she wanted to bring her education partners back into the fold. In 2013-2014, she makes good on that promise, just in time for the 2014 General Election. And now, we see this as something permanent.
And so, the secret sauce of the Kathleen Wynne administration begins to unfold. Her partners have been key to her every political success and they have been rewarded handsomely. Ontario Tories, other Liberal leadership candidates, and the people of Ontario be damned!
So, I imagine there will be some legitimizing of these numbers and what the money paid for. Let me say this: Why does it all the sudden start in 2007? Why does it only seem to be with teachers, and not other unions with which the government negotiates like CUPE or OPSEU? Why does it seem to happen where ever Kathleen Wynne has her fingerprints? And regardless of whatever the reasons might be, the point remains clear that more money for the labour movement means more people, more power, more influence. It skews massively to the Liberals.
The Ontario NDP may now have their answer as to why they can’t win back labour groups who should be their natural allies. They can and do take policy positions that are labour friendly, but they don’t have control of the purse strings. There should be new focus for them on this understanding between teacher federations and Kathleen Wynne. These groups scratch Wynne’s back and she will scratch their backs in return. Nothing can be done to stop this without sound legislation backing it.
And, to teachers, it must have been puzzling to see the indoctrination machine working full tilt. Having your union leaders tell you to vote for your Liberal candidate even when the Liberals slapped you in the face with Bill-115 – that has to hurt! Now you know that there are $66 million reasons why you weren’t told to vote NDP.
The Globe and Mail and other outlets have highlighted the important problems when some of this money finds its way back to the Ontario Liberal Party fundraising arm. This is the kind of stuff that brought down the Chretien-Martin Liberals in the Sponsorship Scandal. This is brewing into the biggest Schoolyard Scandal ever!