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Election 2011: ETFO and its members get involved

Vivian McCaffrey

ETFO's planning for the 2011 provincial election began last year. Our goals were to elect an “education-friendly” government and raise the profile of education issues. The record of the Harris/Eves government (1995 – 2003) and the party’s policies on public sector salaries and union rights motivated ETFO to work against the return of a Tory government. Our goals were challenged by the polls, indicating the Progressive Conservatives were in the lead, and by the opposition parties’ focus on the need for tax cuts.


ETFO’s election platform, Building Better Schools, was released in October 2010 to get early attention for our priority issues and to establish a  profile for education. Locals used the platform materials at all-candidates’ meetings and community events. All parties ultimately committed to significant ongoing investment in public education and to fully implementing full-day kindergarten. The NDP platform included a nod to ETFO’s priorities by promising 500 more specialist teachers. ETFO’s thought-provoking ad campaign hit the airwaves at the end of August and ensured that education issues were not ignored.


Central party campaigns and individual candidates  need  significant  funds  to  run  their election efforts. Working within the limits of the Election Finances Act, ETFO and its locals contributed to the Liberals and the NDP.


We  collaborated  with  our  locals  to  release members to work in 48 targeted Liberal and NDP  campaigns. Locals  also  promoted  candidates  by  sponsoring  print  ads,  organizing meet-the-candidate events, and attending rallies  and  other  campaign  events.  Of  the  48 ETFO-supported candidates, 31 won.


ETFO surveyed the four main parties in July and posted the results and a link to the party platforms on our website. At the beginning of the  school  year,  a  special  election  newsletter gave members an overview of the survey and a message from President Sam Hammond about the importance of voting and volunteering. In a  video posted on the ETFO website, etfo.caHammond again urged members to vote. ETFO local  presidents reinforced these  messages in newsletters,  electronic  communications,  and school visits.

ETFO member who ran for office
Myrna Clark (NDP – Barrie)
Frank de Jong (Grn – Davenport) Anthon Leek (Lib – Kenora-Rainy River) Matt  Richter (Grn – Parry Sound  Muskoka)
Maret Sadem-Thompson (NDP – Whitby-Oshawa)
Pauline Thornham (Grn – Bramalea-Gore-Malton)