Editorial: Policy in politics

Watching the entertaining competition of the 2018 Olympics has been a great distraction from many of the ongoing real-world issues, and Family Day provided a great break and a time to focus on family.

To add to the distractions, the political mess surrounding Patrick Brown is still swirling as he threw his name back in the ring for the PC leadership race. Brown’s move and all of the coverage of the PC’s woes, continues to take the focus away from the fact that there is a Provincial election coming in June.

People should have real election issues on their minds. It is a shame that there has been so little focus on actual issues in most media.

One year ago, with many local schools threatened with closure, a good portion of the local population if asked what issue was important to them, would likely have said education. Education is a real issue.

A recent series of articles published by the Globe and Mail examined an ongoing shift of non-Catholic students enrolling in Catholic schools across the province. The number has increased 18 per cent in the past four years.

These reports have the attention of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario which issued a February 16 press release. (The ETFO represents 80,000 elementary public school teachers, occasional teachers and educational professionals across the province.) “Pulling 11,000 students out of the public school system results in less funding for students with special needs, increased class sizes, classroom needs and less money for school repairs,” said ETFO president Sam Hammond. “School boards are already grappling with declining enrolment, threatened school closures and the loss of funding that is tied to enrolment and this encroachment is exacerbating the situation,” he said.

In this press release Hammond said, “The next Ontario government must make a bold move to create one secular public education system for each official language.” Agree with Hammond and the ETFO, or not, this is a real debate that should be taking place leading up to an election. Distractions and drama have taken away too much focus from the real issues that will have a real impact on real Ontarians. It is heartening to see that there are still organizations, media and people advocating for policy change.

Policy, after all, is what politics and elections should really be about.