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Canada Lawyer linked to Ontario education union attack ads went on government-led trade mission

09:25  14 february  2020
09:25  14 february  2020 Source:   globalnews.ca

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< Ontario 's Liberal government has secretly offered contract extensions to almost all of the key education unions in a move that would buy the ruling party That led to tough negotiations during which the OSSTF unleashed strikes in the Toronto area and Northern Ontario , and the government

Vijay Thomas et al. standing next to a man in a suit and tie: Quinto Annibale (left) is seen standing next to Minister Vic Fedeli.© Tangentia Inc. / Twitter Quinto Annibale (left) is seen standing next to Minister Vic Fedeli.

Global News has confirmed Quinto Annibale, a lawyer at Loopstra Nixon LLP, travelled to India on an Ontario government-led trade mission last year.

Annibale is linked to now a now-infamous ad campaign aimed at teachers' unions published earlier this month.

The advertisements were published by a group calling itself Vaughan Working Families. The ads accuse teachers’ union leaders of using children as “pawns” in tense, ongoing contract talks that have led to rotating strikes across the province.

READ MORE: NDP legislator calls for investigation of newspaper ads criticizing teachers’ unions

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After the September 11, 2001 attacks , the U.S. government responded with immediate action (including rescue operations at the site of the World Trade Center and grounding civilian aircraft), and long-term action, including investigations, legislative changes, military action and restoration projects.

Annibale posed in photos found on social media next to Economic Development and Trade Minister Vic Fedeli while on the India trip.

On Thursday, Education Minister Stephen Lecce admitted knowing Annibale but said he had absolutely no involvement in the ad campaign.

Annibale, who is a longtime Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario donor, incorporated Vaughan Working Families in April 2018.

Ontario’s official Opposition called for an investigation into the advertisements that ran in three national newspapers in early February, asking the province’s elections watchdog to determine if they break the law.

Ontario NDP MPP and ethics critic Taras Natyshak alleged in a letter to Elections Ontario on Monday that the full-page advertisements violate the province’s election spending rules because the ads come at a time when two byelections are underway in Ottawa-area ridings.

Natyshak said the advertisements mimic government speaking points and alleged supporters of the Progressive Conservative government may have purchased them, but provided no evidence to support that claim.

“It’s becoming clearer just how close Mr. Annibale is with the PC Party. He’s not just a supporter — he’s an insider and a travel companion," Natyshak told Global News Thursday evening.

"It’s less and less believable that the Ford government didn’t know it was their pal who placed these ads to help spread their message.”

What happens next in Ontario teachers strikes

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The current Premier of Ontario is Progressive Conservative Party leader Doug Ford, as the party Bill 4 repealed the province's emissions trading legislation, the Climate Change Mitigation and Bill 48 amended several education -related acts to make provisions for service animals in schools, require

Ontario teachers went on the largest teachers’ strike in North America for two weeks—to fight against cuts to prep time and teaching positions, as well as the potential of having non-certified instructors teach students. Your Verification Email Has Been Sent. Check your email for a link to reset your password.

Harvey Bischof, president of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation, accused the Ontario government of "continu[ing] to try to operate in secrecy."

"It was already deeply troubling to have an anonymous group pay for attack ads exactly mirroring Minister Lecce's talking points, further exacerbating a difficult climate," he said in a statement Thursday evening.

"The indications of close connections between the Ford government and Quinto Annibale demand that complete transparency be brought to this situation."

READ MORE: Ontario’s 4 teachers’ unions are engaged in job actions. Here’s what they’re fighting for

Allan Ritchie, a managing partner with Loopstra Nixon LLP, spoke with Global News Thursday evening in response to the trip.

“No other lawyer or staff member of the law firm was on that trip. All flights and accommodations were paid for by the trip’s participants," Ritchie said, adding the firm reimbursed Annibale for the expenses.

Global News contacted Ontario government representatives for comment on this story, but they declined. Annibale was not reachable for comment.

-- With files from The Canadian Press

Why teacher seniority in hiring is now a key factor in Ontario strikes .
A rule that emphasizes seniority in hiring of teachers is a growing point of contention in talks between the Doug Ford government and all four Ontario teachers' unions.The standoff over the teacher hiring rule is one of the reasons why bargaining is at a standstill, and why the province faces another week with school cancellations due to strikes: 

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