The politician and the poser.

We met with one of the Ontario liberal leadership candidates the other day. He is Michael Coteau, MPP for Don Valley East. His pitch to the liberals present was impressive. He has style, he is progressive, he is articulate and he is relaxed. Listening to his talk I saw an interesting counterpoint to the efforts of education minister Stephen Lecce.

The biggest difference was that Coteau had spent two terms in office as a school trustee in Toronto before becoming a member of the legislature. He could discuss the current strife between the conservatives and the school boards without notes, without a teleprompter and with obvious candour. In fact, he had some good advice for Mr. Lecce.

Lecce’s problem is that he lacks the depth in his portfolio. He was thrown into it to try to rescue the conservative government’s heavy-handed approach to change—which, in their terms, is known as ‘Our way or the highway.’

He had no way of knowing the history of the class-size wars between government and the teachers’ unions. He obviously was not aware of the resistance from educators over the last forty years to academic courses being taught on computers. And firing supposedly excess teachers across the province in preparation for these changes, got more than the teachers’ backs up.

As Michael Coteau said to the liberals, the premier and the minister had obviously not done their homework.

In balance to the Coteau presentation (which was in Orillia), education minister Lecce was in Barrie for a photo opportunity with Barrie-Springwater—Oro-Medonte MPP Doug Downey (from Severn, Ontario) and the other local conservative member of the legislature.  The subject of the day was bullying. Now this is a subject with which Lecce should be familiar, as he is a graduate of St. Michael’s College School, a private school for boys in Toronto that is famous for high annual fees and its bullying experience.

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