TORONTO, Ontario, April 6, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The controversial Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association is building a $3 million war chest on the backs of all its member to defeat the province’s Progressive Conservative Party in the upcoming fall election.
The 45,000-strong union, whose leadership has become infamous for advancing causes opposed to Catholic teaching, voted at its annual general meeting in Toronto last month to force every member to pay an extra $60 towards its political campaign. The fee takes effect July 1st.
Teachers have refused to comment publicly on the powerful union’s activities out of fear of retaliation. But one teacher told LifeSiteNews, under condition of anonymity, that he’s disappointed they’re taking $60 “for a campaign that I don’t really agree with in the first place.”
“I’ve got to vote in conscience always. If I voted Liberal, it wouldn’t be in conscience,” he said. “It comes down to what’s the greater good here.”
The campaign aims to “protect the gains” made in education since Dalton McGuinty’s Liberals took office eight years ago, OECTA union president James Ryan wrote in a March 23rd letter to union members. He said delegates left the AGM “acutely aware of how the election of a Conservative government under Tim Hudak would threaten the common good, particularly education.”
The union has long used portions of the mandatory dues, which already can amount to nearly $1,000 per year, to fund a range of activities violating Catholic teaching. In December, LifeSiteNews revealed that OECTA provided funding to Egale, a leading homosexual lobby group, to promote gay-straight alliances in Catholic schools – in opposition to the Ontario bishops.
Lisa McLeod, Progressive Conservative MPP for Nepean-Carleton, told LifeSiteNews that union members shouldn’t be forced to fund partisan politics. “There are members of the caucus that I sit in whose spouse or sibling will be forced to contribute to attack ads against their own family member as a result of this, because there is no opt out,” she said.
She called Ryan’s letter “downright offensive,” taking issue in particular with Ryan’s assertion that a Hudak government would “threaten the common good.” She also said it perpetuated lies about the party’s platform by suggesting they favour merit pay for teachers, charter schools, and vouchers.
Vouchers and charter schools, in particular, are initiatives aimed at promoting parental choice in education as an alternative to current teachers’ union dominated public education monopolies. There is also a growing trend in North America to question the automatic pay scales based on seniority and degrees that public system teachers receive, rather than on regularly assessed personal skills or merit.
According to the Canadian Centre for Policy Studies, a conservative think-tank, OECTA’s partisan fee shows the need for reform of Ontario’s labour laws. “Regardless of what political party stands to gain, forcing workers to support partisan political activity of any kind is a fundamental violation of their individual rights and profoundly undemocratic,” said president Joseph Ben-Ami.
“Giving unions the power to force workers to join, or to pay dues even if they aren’t forced to join, is a recipe for abuse and corruption,” he added. “The law needs to recognize and respond to this.”
Over the last decade the Catholic union promoted bizarre sex conferences featuring talks on drag queens and sex toys; used their own conferences to feature leading dissident Catholics and abortion supporters; seriously mulled the official promotion of homosexual ‘marriage’; and even sought to intervene in a court proceeding against a Catholic school which was being sued by a male student for refusing to permit him to bring his gay ‘boyfriend’ to the school prom.
The anonymous teacher told LifeSiteNews that he’s “flabbergasted” by the way OECTA acts as “their own voice.” “It doesn’t matter what the Church does. I don’t think they ever bother to consult or worry about that,” he explained.
LifeSiteNews did not hear back from OECTA by press time.