Financial Post | Business

The Chestnut Conference Centre, once a hotel but now part of a non-descript student residence in downtown Toronto, is only a short walk from Queen’s Park but worlds apart from the stately brass and wood fittings of the seat of the provincial government.

As such, it was a suitable neutral ground for the first skirmishes of The Great Ontario Labour War of 2012.

It was at the Chestnut that representatives of the McGuinty government met with officials of the province’s teachers’ unions to begin what all sides knew were going to be brutal contract negotiations.

The government’s objective was simple. They were to tell the unions that there was no money — none — for salary or benefit increases. The province’s fiscal picture was bleak. These were the financial parameters that had to be met.

On the afternoon of Feb. 22, the leadership of the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario, along…

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