Back-to-work legislation for York? Don't hold your breath - Macleans.ca
 

Back-to-work legislation for York? Don’t hold your breath

It’s awfully quiet at Queen’s Park


 

This morning I awoke to lots of chatter about the possibility that the Ontario government will recall the provincial legislature in order to pass back-to-work legislation designed to get York students back into their classrooms.

Apparently, CUPE sent out a message last night to its members saying they’ve heard from a “Queen’s Park leak” who says “the Liberals are preparing the legislation” to order them back to work and is preparing to recall the legislature to pass a back-to-work order.

At this time, CUPE has not put forth any public statements that include this information, though it has already publicly called for supporters to mobilize against back-to-work legislation.

CityNews Video: York students lose the most in strike standoff

Read CUPE 3903’s public call to action

Read Facebook discussion on the York University Anti-Strike group

So what’s going on at Queen’s Park? Nada, apparently. The legislature is not scheduled to return until February 17, and my sources at Queen’s Park say they’ve heard nothing about an early recall. Apparently nothing has changed since the legislature left for its winter recess in mid-December. And no recall of the legislature means no back-to-work order anytime soon.

This is politics, and the government must factor in political considerations. It will take a minimum of 24 hours to recall the legislature and will take the better part of a week (if not longer) of sitting in the house to pass back-to-work legislation, which will also face opposition from the NDP.

While the legislature is in session, the government will have to face Question Period and the press gallery every day. The questions posed to them will be simple and uncomfortable. The toughest question: If it was going to act, why did the government wait until now, instead of acting a month ago?

No government wants to put itself in that position.

CUPE’s statement is designed to mobilize its members to counter growing public sentiment in favour of government action. CUPE is correct in stating the government is preparing legislation. It would be irresponsible of the government to not have legislation prepared.

But tabling that legislation? Recalling the house? Doing it all in the next few days or even weeks? Unlikely. Preparation isn’t the same as action, something CUPE likes to point out about its 2010 plan.