ETFO's planning for the 2011 provincial election began last year. Our goals were to elect an “education-friendly” government and raise the profile of education issues. The record of the Harris/Eves government (1995 – 2003) and the party’s policies on public sector salaries and union rights motivated ETFO to work against the return of a Tory government. Our goals were challenged by the polls, indicating the Progressive Conservatives were in the lead, and by the opposition parties’ focus on the need for tax cuts.
MAKING EDUCATION AN ISSUE
ETFO’s election platform, Building Better Schools, was released in October 2010 to get early attention for our priority issues and to establish a profile for education. Locals used the platform materials at all-candidates’ meetings and community events. All parties ultimately committed to significant ongoing investment in public education and to fully implementing full-day kindergarten. The NDP platform included a nod to ETFO’s priorities by promising 500 more specialist teachers. ETFO’s thought-provoking ad campaign hit the airwaves at the end of August and ensured that education issues were not ignored.
Central party campaigns and individual candidates need significant funds to run their election efforts. Working within the limits of the Election Finances Act, ETFO and its locals contributed to the Liberals and the NDP.
PROVIDING CAMPAIGN WORKERS
We collaborated with our locals to release members to work in 48 targeted Liberal and NDP campaigns. Locals also promoted candidates by sponsoring print ads, organizing meet-the-candidate events, and attending rallies and other campaign events. Of the 48 ETFO-supported candidates, 31 won.
INFORMING AND ENGAGING MEMBERS
ETFO surveyed the four main parties in July and posted the results and a link to the party platforms on our website. At the beginning of the school year, a special election newsletter gave members an overview of the survey and a message from President Sam Hammond about the importance of voting and volunteering. In a video posted on the ETFO website, etfo.ca, Hammond again urged members to vote. ETFO local presidents reinforced these messages in newsletters, electronic communications, and school visits.
ETFO members who ran for office
Myrna Clark (NDP – Barrie)
Frank de Jong (Grn – Davenport) Anthony Leek (Lib – Kenora-Rainy River) Matt Richter (Grn – Parry Sound Muskoka)
Maret Sadem-Thompson (NDP – Whitby-Oshawa)
Pauline Thornham (Grn – Bramalea-Gore-Malton)