Open Letter and OSSTF Candidate Questionnaire

The following letter and questionnaire was sent to all declared candidates for OSSTF President, Vice-President, Executive Officer, Treasurer, OTF Governor and OTF Table Officer. If an email address could not be found for a candidate, we contacted them through social media.

The deadline has been extended to March 6, since some candidates have said they did not receive it.

Again, our sincere gratitude for the engagement of the candidates.

To the Candidates seeking election to OSSTF Provincial positions at AMPA 2017:

Thank you for your courage to put your names forward for leadership positions. We appreciate your willingness to take the risk and participate fully in the democratic process of elections.

Just over two years ago, the Educators Climate Alliance (ECA) was formed and launched a divestment campaign aimed at pressuring the OTPP and OMERS to divest from fossil fuels. Since then, many conversations have taken place and much has transpired globally in a world-wide divestment movement.  Since Standing Rock and the Dakota Access Pipeline clash, the divestment movement has broadened to include the Big Banks that fund these destructive projects. At this point, we are not asking for divestment from the banks, but motions going to AMPA 2017 through OSSTF Limestone District 27 are asking again for divestment from fossil fuels. The motions can be found on the ECA website here.

“Indigenous Peoples are standing up to protect land, water and our collective future: not only for us but for the very existence of the human race.” – Crystal Lameman, Beaver Lake Cree

Examples of Indigenous movements and First Nations on the front lines:

RAVEN – Beaver Lake Cree – Tar Sands Trial

Elsipogtog stands up to fracking

Chard Métis Society VS TransCanada

Idle No More

Indigenous Rising

Will OSSTF stand with First Nations and all Indigenous Peoples and put people and the planet over profit?

We think that OSSTF  has the capacity to be a real leader in social justice and human rights causes. Our union has fought for the rights and interests of our members and has a history of advocating for progressive change on issues affecting broader society.

As a candidate seeking a leadership position within OSSTF, we would like to know your position on these issues. We request that you answer the three questions below before AMPA 2017. We will post these questions on the Educators Climate Alliance blog and share them on social media. By answering these questions you are agreeing to have your responses published verbatim on our website.

Our deepest gratitude for your participation! Please see the questionnaire below.

On behalf of the Educators Climate Alliance,

Adam Davidson-Harden (D27), Kevin Bowers (D27), Anik Hahn (D26), William MacCallum (D15)

Educators Climate Alliance Questionnaire

Please respond by email by March 3, 2017.

  1. Reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples of Canada is not just about the legacy of residential schools, it is also about the sovereign rights of Indigenous peoples to govern their lands. Indigenous peoples are leading the ways towards an environmentally, economically, socially and culturally sustainable future.  As educators and members of OSSTF, we understand that we are on the frontlines of this Reconciliation process.As Union leaders, how can we push for progressive change in the Reconciliation process that is concrete and substantive?
  2. Climate change is a defining issue of our time and many are suggesting it will require mobilization and organization on an unprecedented scale. What can OSSTF do to proactively assist in climate solutions? And how can we use this opportunity to strengthen our union and the labour movement?
  3. Lastly, how might we use our internal investments, and investments of our pensions, to support meaningful progress on the above issues? What role might Divestment play in our leadership?

The Climate Change Opportunity [for unions]

by Kevin Bowers, teacher, OSSTF Limestone District 27, and ECA co-founder

PR machines, industry, media, and governments have successfully branded unions and their ‘bosses’ as disruptive and greedy. Climate change offers unions a tremendous opportunity to rebrand and reinvigorate.  There is a hunger for an economic vision that protects the planet and simultaneously supports social equality and good jobs. Unions need to articulate and build this optimistic future and thus define ourselves as leaders in the fight against the forces of disruption and greed.  Unions should call out the industries, media and governments that support the carbon economy and articulate how they are undermining our collective security and prosperity. Simultaneously we need to celebrate and champion the solutions to the climate crisis.  The plentiful, high paying, community centered, democratic jobs of the green economy are not only the solution to the climate crisis but also an opportunity for us to brand unions as the optimistic architects of a prosperous and sustainable future.

[See what the International Trade Union Confederation has to say about this here.]

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p.s. Please consider sharing our blog/posts and petition on your social media platform or share with friends and colleagues via email. If we are to affect change as quickly as is necessary, we really need everyone to become involved. All of us have a stake in our pensions and care about a planet that is livable in the future. The urgency is only going to become more and more apparent. No one is coming to save us. The power is within ourselves – each individual – to change the current system. We hope you can join the growing chorus!