A Toronto District School Board trustee has challenged politicians to deal with education issues in the current provincial campaign.
Trustee Howard Goodman and the TDSB have declared Tuesday, Sept. 20, Education Day. They want the candidates in all Ontario ridings to open a dialogue with constituents about education in public debates. As the trustee for the Eglinton-Lawrence riding, Goodman said he has faced obstacles getting all of the candidates to agree to attend a debate that day.
“At the moment, (Rocco) Rossi is not going to be in attendance. We are hoping he will change his mind,” Goodman said. “Mike Colle (Liberal incumbent), Gerti Dervishi (NDP) and Josh Rachlis (Green) all say they are coming.”
Goodman said the day is not about the teachers or about the school board, but about getting informed voters to the polls on Oct. 6.
“It is important when people cast their vote, to have an informed vote,” he said. “Education is of critical importance when selecting a provincial government. You need to know when casting a vote where your specific candidate stands on education. You are not voting for your premier; you are voting for your local candidate.”
An report by the Toronto Star suggested that a large number of Ontario Conservative candidates have said they are unable to attend the Education Day meetings.
Nelson Wiseman, a political-science professor at the University of Toronto, said that the lack of Tory commitment could be out of fear of negative constituent response.
“It could be that they think this is just an affair where they are going to be attacked,” Wiseman said, “(and) that maybe it is not a good use of resources… I am moderator at a debate in Trinity-Spadina on education where the Conservative candidate is making an appearance.”
Prof. Wiseman added that this election could be an opportunity for the Liberal candidates to show they care about education.
“If there has been a single thrust of policy of the Liberals it has been education and they have done very well with that,” Wiseman said.