VOX 3.0 in motion

By Francine Filion
October 27, 2014

As professionals, teachers have always upheld principles of democracy and social justice, particularly as they apply to the public education system in Canada. For example, in the last decade, tens of thousands of teachers have introduced their students to Student Vote, the parallel election model for students who are too young to vote.

We need look no further than CTF’s Imagineaction website to see a tremendous breadth and depth of teacher supported student social justice projects in communities across our country.

Teachers are passionate about their profession and are champions for democracy, human rights and the common good. Our voices have been known to resonate strongly in provincial/territorial legislative assemblies as well as on Parliament Hill.

The “Hear my Voice” campaign was initiated by the CTF Board of Directors in 2012 shortly after Bill C-377 was tabled in the House of Commons. It became clear that the proposed legislation intended to threaten labour rights in Canada –(See “Labour rights, inequality and democracy”).

CTF’s “Hear My Voice” campaign is a non-partisan initiative that initially engaged thousands of teachers and retired teachers who contacted federal MPs and Senators via postcards, face-to-face meetings and of course, through social media. Other labour unions also initiated similar activities and together, lobbied federal MPs and especially Senators. The solidarity efforts were successful in that our position was supported by a group of progressive Conservative Senators who saw that the Bill intruded on provincial jurisdiction, violated privacy laws and would upset the balance in collective bargaining across Canada. Thanks to their efforts, the C-377 was pushed aside without any further action.

After sitting idle for a year, Bill C-377 recently reared its ugly head again in the Senate despite its fundamental flaws pointed out by constitutional experts, privacy commissioners, provincial ministers of labour and unions. (Read “Parliament must speak for all Canadians)

It goes without saying that the current political climate for labour rights and democracy in Canada is not what it could be. Bill C-377 is but one of the measures that seem intent to muzzle the voices of Canadians who disagree with policies introduced by government. These measures have shaken the very core of what Canada used to stand for in terms of justice, the common good and the equal opportunity to speak up. (Read “A National Teacher Advocacy Movement to Build on Strength at the Grassroots”)

Now what?

As teachers and teacher organizations, we can have an influence on political decisions. By working individually and collectively, we can promote our profession and champion democratic rights and values in our communities, provinces/territories and country.

A federal election is scheduled for the end of October 2015. It may happen even sooner. CTF and its Member organizations are working to ensure that issues related to the teaching profession, public education and the common good are part of the public discourse in the months leading up to and well beyond the next federal election.

Together with our Member organizations, CTF has created a National Teacher Advocacy Network, and teachers will have the opportunity to become involved through their provincial and territorial teacher organizations. The next phase of the “Hear My Voice” campaign, nicknamed VOX 3.0 (Vox is latin for voice) will be to put in place the tools and support for Member organizations and teachers to connect with federal MPs and candidates in a non-partisan manner to articulate the teacher perspective on a wide range of issues.

The CTF National Teacher Advocacy Network participated in the Camp VOX Oct. 3-5 in Ottawa.
The photo was taken on Oct. 5, World Teachers’ Day.

So what does this all mean for you in the classroom and in your community?

Many issues identified by teachers need to be addressed by the federal government.

Through numerous surveys and anecdotally, teachers have told us that students’ mental health issues, child poverty and bullying (including cyberbullying) are of primary concern since these affect the quality of learning and teaching. These are not amorphous issues on the sidelines but real-life issues that must be addressed at the federal level. (see our position papers). Here is where our voices can have a significant impact.

Although it may seem difficult to link what is happening in Ottawa with the conditions in our classrooms, federal policies do affect teaching and learning conditions in your community. That is why it is important to think federally and act locally. Making our voices heard, loud and clear, in our respective constituencies also speaks volumes of our dedication to the well-being of our students. As we roll out the campaign in coming months, here’s how you can join:

Look forward to hearing your teacher voice in the democratic process.

Francine Filion is the Director of Communications of the Canadian Teachers’ Federation.

Canadian Teachers’ Federation
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Perspectives web magazine is published by the Canadian Teachers’ Federation (CTF), a national alliance of provincial and territorial teacher organizations that represent over 238,000 elementary and secondary school teachers across Canada.

Editor In Chief: Francine Filion | Translation and Editing: Marie‑Caroline Uhel and Marie‑Hélène Larrue
Proofreading: Denise Léger
Graphic Design: Nathalie Hardy and Jean-Louis Lauriol | Web Design: Greg Edwards

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