TORONTO, Nov. 29, 2018 /CNW/ - OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas says MPP Amanda Simard deserves a standing ovation for refusing to back down over Doug Ford's reckless cuts to French-language protections in Ontario.
The backbencher quit the Progressive Conservative caucus on Thursday to sit as an Independent after vocally opposing a decision to scrap the office of Ontario's French-language Commissioner and cancel plans for a French-language university.
The PCs even tried to silence Simard on Wednesday by refusing to give her time in the legislature to speak to this important issue, said Thomas. Instead, they jump up to give Ford a standing ovation every time he opens his mouth.
It's clear there's no room for minority voices or healthy debate in the Ford government, he added.
"It takes guts to stand up to a bully like Ford," Thomas said. "Instead of acting like a bunch of trained seals, Simard's colleagues – including Minister of Francophone Affairs, Caroline Mulroney – should follow her lead and speak out against these cuts to public services. Simard deserves the standing ovation, not Ford."
OPSEU First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida noted that Franco-Ontarians aren't the only group under attack by Ford. The premier is also scrapping the Child Advocate, rolling back important worker protections, freezing the minimum wage and cutting off benefits to vulnerable people, while handing out $2.7 billion in tax breaks to the wealthy.
OPSEU, which represents about 155,000 members across Ontario, has a long history of protecting public services from politicians like Ford, he said.
"OPSEU has fought for decades not only to improve wages and working conditions, but also to ensure that fundamental rights are protected," Almeida said.
"We applaud Simard for taking a principled stand and putting justice and equality before party loyalty. Her actions will hopefully be a wake-up call to Ford."
Thomas says Ford can save himself a lot of political pain if he taps into the expertise of frontline workers through their bargaining agent OPSEU.
"It doesn't have to be like this. OPSEU can help. It's time to talk."
SOURCE Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU)
For further information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931