Premier Kathleen Wynne has said she is prepared to move fast — even over the weekend — to end strikes in three school boards if she gets advice that the student year is in jeopardy.
Wynne is awaiting a report by an arm’s-length expert panel as to whether high school teacher strikes in Durham, Peel and the Sudbury district are threatening the school year for nearly 70,000 students.
The chair of the Education Relations Commission (ERC) told the Star Thursday he expected a decision “in the near future” but Chris Albertyn did not say precisely when that would be.
“I don’t know whether there will be a ruling out on the weekend (but) we would act as quickly as we can,” Wynne told reporters during a visit Friday to Baycrest Health Services — suggesting an emergency sitting of the Legislature could be held Saturday or Sunday to pass back-to-work legislation.
“The fact is, if you’ll remember, the House was brought back when there was TTC labour unrest,” she said, referring to a rare weekend sitting in April 2008 that forced 9,000 striking members of the Amalgamated Transit Union back on the job.
“We’ll act as quickly as we can once we have the advice.”
Members of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) walked off the job April 20 in Durham — halfway through the second semester — and April 27 in Sudbury and May 4 in Peel. With only weeks left before exams and the end of the year, panic is setting in among students and families that the year could be lost.
As concerns grow over the academic year, Education Minister Liz Sandals tapped the ERC May 15 to decide whether the school year is in jeopardy, and the four-member panel has been gathering information, Albertyn said.
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said Friday her party typically opposes back-to-work legislation, and “I think that the best way to get through these kinds of situations is to actually bargain seriously at the bargaining table. I don’t think the government has been doing that. Or else we would not be in the situation we are in…
“Back-to-work legislation never solves the problem in a positive way,” she said. “The problems will still be outstanding. The only difference is that the young people will be back at school. We are going to look at what the government brings forward, but I cannot speculate.”
Horwath noted the government has a majority so it can do what it wishes.
Meanwhile, the three school boards have complained to the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) that the local strikes violate the new two-tiered bargaining process because they are not really about local issues, but rather over issues such as class size that are bargained at the province-wide “central” table. The boards say the School Boards’ Collective Bargaining Act is intended to permit local strikes over only local issues, and a central (province-wide) strike over only central issues.
However the union maintains the Act draws no such line and also that the three local strikes are over the breakdown of local talks in those boards.
OLRB Chair Bernard Fishbein heard legal arguments on both sides for more than four days and has said he hopes to rule on the legality of the strikes by the middle of next week.
Meanwhile, provincial talks between the OSSTF and the Ontario Public School Boards’ Bargaining Association were to resume this weekend.
With files from Kristin Rushowy
Premier Kathleen Wynne insists she and her aides are not trying to suppress a controversial new behind-the-scenes documentary about her.
As first disclosed by the Star, TVOntario has cancelled plans to broadcast Premier: The Unscripted Kathleen Wynne after the film’s director quit in protest.
Roxana Spicer resigned from the ambitious project after a testy meeting with Wynne advisers three weeks ago where they demanded to view the entire film before agreeing to sign the requisite release forms.
“I wouldn’t have agreed to do it if I didn’t believe people had a right to know how our government works. I hope it can be seen,” Wynne said Friday.
The premier said she wanted to participate in the film — produced by Peter Raymont, who directed a 1978 documentary on former premier Bill Davis entitled, The Art of the Possible — to show Ontarians how government works.
“I was persuaded to do this video because I had watched the video of Bill Davis, which was lovely, but everybody was a man and everybody was smoking. It was a very different time and so I thought it was a good idea to have an update,” she said.
But Wynne stressed “there was a scope of the plan, there was a scope of the project,” which was supposed to focus on the weeks leading up to Finance Minister Charles Sousa’s April 23 budget.
“I haven’t seen any of the footage. I’ve had to leave it to folks to see whether the footage is within the scope of the project,” the premier said.
Sources who have seen the film say it concentrates on the Feb. 5 Sudbury byelection that is now the subject of an Ontario Provincial Police probe into allegations the Liberals tried to bribe Andrew Olivier not to run for the Liberal candidacy.
Pat Sorbara, Wynne’s deputy chief of staff, and Sudbury Liberal activist Gerry Lougheed are being investigated after Olivier was allegedly offered a job to step aside for federal NDP defector Glenn Thibeault.
Sorbara, who was interviewed for the documentary, and Lougheed have denied any wrongdoing and no charges have been laid.
Wynne emphasized her aides, who screened eight minutes of the 59-minute film at the meeting that led to Spicer quitting, are not trying to exert editorial control.
“That was absolutely not our intention at all. We knew it was going to be an independent project — as it should be — but there was a scope of the project and I think that that’s where the discussion is right now,” she said.
Her officials were viewing some fly-on-the-wall footage — as per an agreement with producer Raymont — to ensure it did not violate cabinet secrecy or anyone’s privacy.
John Ferri, TVO’s vice-president of current affairs and documentaries, said the provincial public broadcaster axed its plan to air the film next month after Spicer resigned.
“There were essentially two visions for this film — one that met our journalistic standards and one that didn’t,” said Ferri, noting “we continue to support the director’s vision for the film.”
TVO is now demanding White Pine Pictures, Raymont’s production company, repay a $114,075 advance for not delivering a documentary with a director attached and all release forms signed.
Raymont said Thursday he’s hopeful the film can be released.
But his split with Spicer, who declined to discuss her departure, and the lack of signed errors and omissions insurance release forms could tie it up indefinitely.
NDP Leader Andrea Horwarth said it was ironic that Wynne is always “crowing” about openness and transparency in government.
“I put the blame here more on the premier than anything else. It is quite frightening that the most open and transparent premier in the history of the world has decided she doesn’t want this film to see the light of day,” said Horwath.
“That’s worrisome. That’s Stephen Harper-type tactic.”
Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown said “the stifling of the TVO documentary on her government appears to be yet another example of her showing she doesn’t really believe in the transparency she likes to talk about.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: Robert Benzie, the Star’s Queen’s Park bureau chief, was among the journalists interviewed by Roxana Spicer and her crew. Benzie met with Spicer once at Queen’s Park and once in the Star newsroom, but he has not seen any footage from the film. He signed an errors and omissions insurance release form after the first of two interviews.
The Raptors have replaced the Blue Jays as the best paid athletes in Canada, according to research on 17 of the world’s premier sports leagues.
Each Raptor earns an average of $5.03 million (all figures U.S.) annually, compared to $4.71 million per Jays player.
The annual survey calculates the average salaries for 9,731 active professional athletes who play basketball, baseball, hockey, soccer, football, cricket and Australian Rules football.
Of the 17 top international leagues surveyed, the NBA is the highest paying by average salary. Major League Baseball is No. 3, the NHL fifth, the NFL seventh and MLS thirteenth. The CFL comes last on the list.
At the team level, the top-10 list is dominated by European soccer clubs. French champions Paris Saint-Germain have the best-paid players in the world at $9.08 million. Real Madrid ($8.64 million), and Manchester City ($8.60 million) round out the top three.
The best-paid North American sports team is baseball’s Los Angeles Dodgers ($8.02 million).
The Raptors were the 21st highest earners in the world. Last season, they ranked 45th on the list.
We’ve broken the data down by Toronto-based sports team below, including information on home game attendance and social media following.
Players earned an average of $102,709 per win during the Raptors’ best regular season ever.
NBA teams generally rank higher on the list because of their smaller roster size. An average NBA team has 12-15 players.
However, even within the NBA, the Raptors reward their players favourably. They are the sixth-best paid team in basketball.
The Brooklyn Nets — despite losing to the Atlanta Hawks in the first round of the playoffs — were the highest paid team in the NBA at $6.25 million. By contrast, the Hawks only paid their players $3.94 million, the second lowest of teams that made the playoffs.
The Jays are ranked 35th in the world, down from 30th year-on-year.
The Jays are the eighth-best paid in baseball ($4.71 million). The Los Angeles Dodgers are the highest paid at $8.02 million. The lowest-paying MLB team—the Tampa Bay Rays at $2.3 million— currently sits atop of the American League East.
Newly minted head coach Mike Babcock will earn close to $3 million more each year than his players, who receive $3.03 million on average
For each victory last season, Leafs players received an average of $100,883 — only $2,000 less than their Raptor counterparts, who won the NBA’s Atlantic Division.
Leafs players rank 74th in the world, up from 110th, but No. 5 in the NHL and highest of any Canadian NHL team.
The New York Rangers are the highest paid in the NHL at $3.33 million. The lowest are the Calgary Flames ($2.04 million).
High salaries for the team’s three designated players – Michael Bradley, Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore – mean that Toronto is the highest-paying team in the MLS. On average, players earn $891,304, approximately 35 per cent more than second-ranked Los Angeles Galaxy.
It hasn’t paid off on the pitch, as TFC languishes in the Eastern Conference.
The Argos are far down the list at No. 324 overall, dropping from No. 284 the year before.
They are ranked sixth in the CFL ($100,643).
Toronto team attendances
The Blue Jays draw the biggest average crowds of the Toronto sports teams with an average of 29, 327 fans per game, although that is only good for No. 17 in MLB. The highest is the L.A. Dodgers (46,696).
The Raptors have the fifth highest home attendance in the NBA, averaging 19,752 fans. Only the Chicago Bulls (21,344), Cleveland Cavaliers (20,562), Dallas Mavericks (20,188) and New York Knicks (19,812) have higher attendances. The Philadelphia 76ers have the lowest average attendance (13,941).
In the NHL, the Leafs (19,063) are No. 7, behind the Chicago Blackhawks (21,769), Montreal Canadiens (21,287), Detroit Red Wings (20,027), Philadelphia Flyers (19,271), Washington Capitals (19,099) and Calgary Flames (19,097).
TFC are No. 4 (22,086) in the MLS, behind the Seattle Sounders (43,734), Orlando City (39,328) and New York City (27,768).
In the CFL, only the Hamilton Tiger-Cats (15,371) have a lower average attendance than the Argos (17,791).
Social media following
The Raptors have the highest social media following of Toronto’s teams, based on their higher number of Facebook “likes” (1.61 million).
In the NBA, the L.A. Lakers has the highest number of both Facebook and Twitter fans, accounting for 17% of the entire league’s social media following. The Raptors have the 19th highest number of Facebook “likes” and 15th highest number of Twitter followers.
The Leafs have the highest Twitter following in the NHL, but fall to seventh in the number of Facebook likes, where the Chicago Blackhawks have the most.
The Yankees are highest on both Facebook and Twitter in the MLB, accounting for 15% of the entire league’s social media following. The Blue Jays have the 16th highest number of Facebook likes and the fifth highest Twitter following.
TFC has the 11th highest number of Facebook likes and the fourth-highest Twitter following in the MLS. Los Angeles Galaxy are top on both social networks with 16% of the league’s total social media following.
The Argos have an overall share of 6% of the CFL’s social media following.
Toronto’s police, libraries and public health, funded by city taxpayers to the tune of $1.6 billion this year, should not be able to avoid the auditor-general’s microscope, city councillors said Friday.
Members of the audit committee want the Ontario government to amend the City of Toronto Act to put the agencies under the auditor-general’s purview, just like the TTC and other city-funded bodies, and in the meantime for those agencies to voluntarily submit to audits.
The vote came after Beverly Romeo-Beehler told them that, since becoming auditor-general in December, she asked the chairs of the boards overseeing police libraries and Toronto Public Health to let her office look at their operations to identify “risk” areas that might need auditing.
She would then have to wait for an invitation to investigate, unlike with city departments and other agencies where she is free to launch spending probes.
She has “not heard back” from the police board while the other two are “considering” the request, Romeo-Beehler said.
“Shining a light is always good so people can make the changes they need to make,” she said. “I can say that historically, based on evidence, we’ve added value and I expect that would be the case,” with police, libraries and health.
Councillor Josh Matlow (open Josh Matlow's policard) said it drives him “absolutely mad” that council approves spending for those agencies — $1.157 billion for police alone — but they have not asked Romeo-Beehler to ensure that spending is prudent.
He singled out police paid duty. Last year, the Star noted that, three years after city council passed motions designed to reign in spending on the program that sees off-duty officers earn a minimum $65 an hour guarding construction sites and sports and community events, the amount of paid duty earned by officers had soared to $26.1 million.
Councillor Frances Nunziata (open Frances Nunziata's policard), an audit board member who used to be on the police services board, suggested it’s the police service itself, not its civilian oversight body, that has resisted paid duty reforms.
“Maybe every year when (police, libraries and health) ask council to approve their budget we should resist, just like they’re resisting us,” Nunziata said. “It just makes me angry that they’re not responding.”
Councillor Stephen Holyday (open Stephen Holyday's policard) voted to ask full council to lobby Queen’s Park for the change, but noted those agencies have internal auditors so the city has to avoid “checking the checker that checks the checker.”
Police services board chair Alok Mukherjee said in an interview he was “taken aback” by Romeo-Beehler’s comments because he has told her he is interested in a review to suggest possible audit targets.
But he needs to find time to sit down with new Police Chief Mark Saunders to “work out the details,” Mukherjee said, noting he wants to overhaul paid duty.
Asked about putting police permanently under auditor general purview, he said such a change would have to be decided by his full board.
Jennifer Veenboer of Toronto Public Health noted that, because many of her board’s services are partly or full provincially funded, the agency is subject to auditing by Ontario’s auditor general.
“We have not had an opportunity to review the decisions made earlier today,” by the audit committee,” she said in an email. “However, we will review (it) in conjunction with” Romeo-Beehler request.
The library board will, at its June 21 meeting, consider Romeo-Beehler’s request to be allowed to look for audit targets, a spokeswoman said.
EDMONTON — Incoming Alberta premier Rachel Notley has suspended a rookie member of her caucus over a controversial photo.
Notley says in a release that Deborah Drever will sit as an Independent after the new NDP government is sworn in on Sunday.
A photo of Tory Premier Jim Prentice and one of his cabinet ministers, Ric McIver, was circulating Friday on Twitter. It features doodled speech bubbles that appear to suggest the two men are gay. A comment from the account “drevfever” says: “Gay boyz.”
It’s unclear when the Instagram image was posted, but the doodles appear to have been added to a photo that appeared with an article published during the Tory leadership race last year.
NDP spokeswoman Cheryl Oates said the party had no idea the photo was out there until Friday. She said it was on a closed Instagram account.
“We became aware of it this morning when we saw it on social media,” Oates said. “We had no idea about this photo.”
Oates said the party confirmed with Drever that she posted the photo and made the comment.
Notley said she may review Drever’s status in caucus within a year.
“I apologize to all Albertans for the homophobic statements contained in this image, which are completely contrary to the views of our party and our future government,” Notley said in the release.
“I hope Ms. Drever will take to heart our conversation earlier this week about her responsibility to speak out clearly on issues of violence against women and homophobia.
“If she does so as part of her duties to her constituents, I’ll review this matter in the coming year and consider whether she has a future in our caucus.”
Several controversial photos with Drever, 26, have surfaced since she won the Calgary Bow seat in the May 5 election. The pictures have sparked petitions demanding that she quit or be removed.
One shows her pretending to be assaulted with a bottle for a garage band cover photo. Another one on Facebook is of Drever at age 19 and in dark glasses as she hams it up beside a marijuana T-shirt. Still another shows a disembodied hand, not Drever’s, giving the middle finger to the Canadian flag.
Drever told The Canadian Press on Thursday that the garage band photo taken three years ago was an inexplicable error of youth, but one she was determined to turn the page on.
Earlier this week, Notley said she had spoken to Drever, had accepted her apology and told her to come up with a plan to educate people about violence against women.
Northern Ireland's Michael Hoey was disqualified from the US PGA Championship after the second round for failing to "recreate his lie" after removing a ball from sand.
American Scott Verplank withdrew from the US PGA Championship with a hip problem half-way through his second round at the Ocean Course.
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