It’s no secret that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ontario Premier Doug Ford aren’t exactly best friends. Speaking at the Canadian Teachers’ Federation's annual general meeting on Thursday, Trudeau made it quite clear how he felt about the Progressive Conservative politician, calling Ford’s cuts to Ontario’s education system “frightening.”
The Prime Minister attended the meeting in Ottawa this afternoon to have a pre-election "armchair discussion" with the teachers' advocacy group. During the chat, Trudeau took aim at Ford’s cuts to education funding across Ontario.
Some of Ford’s most controversial decisions regarding schooling in the province include losing up to 3,000 full-time teaching positions, introducing compulsory e-learning modules and increasing class sizes, some classes from 22, to as many as 28.
Speaking on this matter today, Trudeau made it clear that he wasn’t overly impressed with the premier’s cuts. "As we look at what the Conservative government in Ontario ... has done in terms of cuts to services, cuts to kids, it's really frightening," he said.
As a parent, the Prime Minister also added that he was worried Ford’s cuts could affect the quality of education that his three children currently receive in their Ottawa public school.
Trudeau’s feelings are mirrored by teacher groups in Ontario, who have called the cuts a “devastating blow to an education system that is well-regarded internationally.” Unions also agree with the Prime Minister, arguing that larger classroom sizes will be difficult to manage for teachers.
Despite the considerable opposition, the Ford government maintains that their cuts are necessary in order to get Ontario’s budget in order. The premier notes that years of mismanaged budgeting in the province has led to Ontario having the world’s largest sub-sovereign debt levels.
Trudeau also took a moment during the meeting with the teachers to reflect on the federal election in 2015, when the Conservative election campaign suggested he was a drama teacher, who wasn’t ready to lead a country.
"We saw the Conservatives try a number of attack lines on me that I was just a teacher, and how could I become prime minister. I mean the issue, and this is a personal thing, I think being a teacher informs deeply how I am prime minister," he said.
Following his meeting, Trudeau took to his personal Instagram page to send a special message to Canada’s teachers. In the post he wrote, “To all the teachers out there – what you do is important. You empower our kids, build their confidence, help them find their strengths and curiosity."
The Prime Minister ended the heartfelt post with, "You [teachers] make our country a better place, and our government will always support you and your students.”