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McGuinty vows to ends teachers’ ‘illegal strike’


TORONTO — Ontario’s beleaguered premier is promising to stop an “illegal strike” by thousands of public elementary teachers who plan to walk out Friday to protest their controversial new contracts.

The teachers are no longer in a legal strike position now that the cash-strapped province has imposed new two-year collective agreements, Premier Dalton McGuinty said late Wednesday.

“To withdraw your services from our schools and your students is illegal,” he said in a hastily-called news conference. “If you feel your dissatisfaction has not been heard, I assure you it has.”

“But let’s agree to have this matter settled in court and not in our schools,” McGuinty added. “Let’s leave our students out of it.”

The government will apply for a cease-and-desist order from the Ontario Labour Relations Board in an effort to avert a strike that would close primary schools across the province, he said.

But the outgoing premier wouldn’t say whether he’d go after teachers who walk off the job in court.

“I have every reason to believe that Ontario teachers are law-abiding, that they want to do the right thing, that they will continue to deliver their services,” McGuinty said.

The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario insists it’s not a strike, but a one-day political protest that’s protected under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

“This has nothing to do with revenge or anger,” said ETFO president Sam Hammond. “This has to do with principled positions in terms of democracy in this province and in this country.”

The Liberals argue that it’s an illegal strike under Bill 115, the controversial anti-strike law.

that gave them the power to impose the two-year collective agreements on teachers.



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