Teachers union threatens Nipissing over Harris degree - Macleans.ca

Teachers union threatens Nipissing over Harris degree

Honourary degree for former premier causes outrage


The Ontario Teachers Federation can hardly be said to be known for its subtlety. In a recent letter sent to Nipissing University’s board of governors, OTF president Reno Melatti warned against plans to name a library after, and confer an honourary degree on, former Ontario premier Mike Harris. “The executive of the Ontario Teachers Federation would like you to know that both we and our members object, in the strongest possible terms to any intent Nipissing may have to pursue such a misguided action,” the letter read.

Melatti raised a number of grievances from Harris’ time in office. “We find it incongruous that a university that prides itself on being a school for future teachers and for aboriginal students would deem it appropriate to confer any honour on an individual who decimated the funding of K-12 and post-secondary education in Ontario,” the letter read. “Given the insidious treatment of the profession by former premier Mike Harris, and his total lack of respect for its members, we cannot predict how teachers may demonstrate their displeasure should the university choose to name a library after, or confer an honorary degree on, Mr. Harris.”

The union boss went so far as to suggest that OTF members may refuse the placement of Nipissing student teachers in their classrooms. “There’s a strong concern from various members that they may reconsider their assistance in providing for (Nipissing) student teachers,” Mellatti told the Ottawa Citizen. In a meeting scheduled for later this month the union executive will consider whether or not to recommend a boycott against Nipissing education students.

For its part, the university has shrugged off the complaint, with spokesman Bob Pipe telling the Citizen plans to honour Harris will proceed.


Teachers union threatens Nipissing over Harris degree

  1. Wow. Mike Harris isn’t a perfect saint, but holding students and their plans hostage over an university’s plan to confer an honourary degree to the former premier? More like threatening to keep these student teachers unemployed. That is pretty wrong and it’s no way to win supporters or sympathy.

  2. If OTF is going to refuse the placement of Nipissing students, then what is to stop school boards from hiring recent Nipissing graduates? It is hard enough to get a job teaching in the current market without blacklisting specific universities. I do not agree with naming a library after Mike Harris, let alone presenting him with an honourary degree, but threatening the futures of these students is far from making the right move in order to correct the situation. OTF is supposed to stand behind teachers so we can provide every student with the education they need and deserve without discrimination – yet they are discriminating against these students and hindering their education. Hopefully these students are able to receive their education in a fair and equitable manner because it would be unfair to judge a student just because they come from a certain place. Don’t judge the students for the universities decision!

  3. The conflict with Harris and the OTF was 15 years ago. OTF should get over it. I’m not saying that Harris was an advocate for teachers but he came into office with a record deficit and when our provincial bonds were downgraded to junk status. Cuts everywhere had to be made. He made a 20% cut to education funding, but we teachers only lost pay because OTF strong armed us into an illegal strike. There was no strike vote for that walk out. What did it accomplish? Nothing, it just hurt our reputations. If I was OTF, I wouldn’t bring up the matter. It was not their finest hour.

    I so object when the union says “our members” feel this way or that way. The first I heard of this was on the radio yesterday,(OTF didn’t ask us teachers) and thankfully the radio announcer made the distinction between the union and the teachers.

    All that being said, the threat against Nippising teacher candidates is petty and small. I am a teacher and I am not a Concerative and I fully support the decision of the Nippising BoD to determine who will be deferred an honourary degree. I hold no ill will toward Mike Harris. He had to make choices in a ballooning deficit. We now face the same challenges. You can’t keep spending forever without paying your bills.

  4. Who does do those gangster Teachers’ Union officials think they are, telling Nipissing University or anyone on whom they can, or cannot, confer an honourary degree. If you follow the U.S. media, you will find a lot more outlets who are open about criticizing the teachers’ unions for being the money-wasting impediment to education that they are. They are good at lobbying for higher and higher pay and benefits for their members and more and more work rules that free them of any accountability but that’s about it. In one jurisdiction after another, they bring about a situation where taxpayers pay record amounts to fund public schools while getting very poor results in particular. To make matters worse, they try to harass and initmidate concerned parents that try to challenge their monopoly through programs like charter schools and school vouchers, all in the hope if preserving a system that serves their members well but no one else. Visit U.S. websites like http://www.edchoice.org or http://www.thelotteryfilm.com to get more information. To be a friend of teachers’ unions is to be anti-education, to be their enemy is to be pro-education, pro-taxpayer and pro-accountability. I’m sorry that Mike Harris is not still premier, he was heads and shoulders above the little union sycophant, Dalton McGuinty.

  5. You would have dig through some old fascist dogma to come up policy like this. Harris and Harper have got nothing on these guys! Does everyone remember when conservatives, led by many Catholics, were appalled that the University of Western Ontario gave Henry Morgentaler an honorary doctorate? Now try to imagine the Catholic Church demanding that UWO graduates be forbidden from teaching at separate schools, “fair” punishment for the university having “dared” to defy church. Let that thought roll around in your head for a while. Scared? I am. You should be too. The extreme left, led by unions, are the greatest threat to our rights, our freedoms and the future of this country. Mike Harris was elected to two separate majority governments by the people of Ontario, fulfilling the mandate afforded him by our precious, free and democratic political system. Just as Bob Rae did before him (he has four honorary doctorates). David Peterson before him (who has one). The OFT has served its fascist notice: The OFT is above all others – the people of Ontario, the Universities of Ontario, parents, students, even their own members. Outstanding!

  6. The OTF should stay out of politics and look after its mandate, which is to look after teachers, not speak for them. We elect politicians in this country and whether this union likes it or not, Mike Harris was elected by the people of Ontario. He also did just what he said he was going to do and we voted for him because of that. Everyone knows the teachers union has been out of control for years. He was the only one who had the balls to stand up to them and they are still sulking about it. Stick to your guns, Nipissing, it is none of the OTF’s business who you give honorary awards to. If the OTF tramples on Ontarian’s rights, they just might find themselves blacklisted, not Nipissing’s young students.