Ads attacking teachers mysteriously appear in Toronto newspapers and people have theories
Mysterious full-page ads appeared in three of Canada's biggest newspapers over the weekend, and it seems no one can figure out who's behind them.
The massive ads — featured in the Toronto Star, the Globe and Mail and the National Post — claim to be from a group called "Vaughan Working Families" and accuse Ontario's teachers of using students as "pawns for personal gain."
Full-pagers in Star & G&M. Maybe we should ask @SFLecce who’s behind these. Using the moniker of “Working Fams”. Which fams are those, Stephen? The super-rich ones that contribute the max amount they can every yr to your riding assoc?— Felipe Pareja (@FAPareja) February 1, 2020
Reeks of desperation. #ETFO #onlab #onted pic.twitter.com/rcwJgpzuI6
There is no contact information listed for the group and a google search reveals no website or social media pages other than one Twitter account with the word Vaughan misspelled as "Vaughn."
The account only follows Doug Ford, Stephen Lecce, the Ontario PC party and the federal Conservative party. A recent tweet openly thanks Lecce for the ads.
The advertisements feature a photo of a young mother holding her child's report card with a huge "F" written in red marker. But according to Press Progress, the woman in the photo is a model from Poland who sells this very photo on Shutterstock.
The adds list several unconfirmed facts about teachers including that their average salary is $90,000, they only work about eight months of the year and they're entitled to a "generous pension and benefits package."
"At the Star — as at most newspapers, including the Globe, the Post, and the Sun — the advertising and editorial departments are separate entities," reads an article in the Toronto Star about the ads.
Because of this, none of the newspapers have been able to reveal who really purchased the ads.
They did reveal, however, that full-page ads in all three papers would cost more than $150,000.
@globeandmail I am not impressed with your unwillingness to share pertinent information regarding these anti-teacher attack ads. My husband and I are both teachers and subscribers. We’ve put up with late deliveries, low quality production and now this. Do the right thing https://t.co/Xmooha88cZ— the_mcctrish (@the_mcctrish) February 4, 2020
There are several theories floating around about who's behind the politically-driven ads, but none have yet to be confirmed.
Some thought a group called Working Families Ontario might be behind them because of the similarities in their names, but the group put out a public statement saying they are "in no way, shape or form affiliated with Vaughan Working Families."
Working Families is in no way, shape or form affiliated with Vaughan Working Families. The attribution is incorrectly associated with Working Families. We are taking steps to correct this. Any information about this group would be appreciated. #onpoli— Working Families Ontario (@WFOntario) February 2, 2020
The vast majority seem to believe that Premier Doug Ford and Education Minister Stephen Lecce are behind the ads, as they include many of the same anti-teacher talking points that have been repeatedly expressed by both of them.
How does a group materialize suddenly out of thin air & raise $150,000 to place ads in 4 major newspapers to attack teachers who are defending our schools against @fordnation’s untested experiments? Why do the ads echo talking points of @Sflecce? #onpoli https://t.co/DCVEMeaJfc— Penny Gill (@PennyGill3) February 4, 2020
A spokesperson for Lecce told Global News the Ontario government was in no way involved with the ads, but many aren't buying it.
The provincial NDP is now calling on Elections Ontario to investigate the ads as they "may break the rules that prohibit this kind of dark money politics during an election in Ontario."
"Vaughan Working Families looks like a shell group, and Ontarians deserve to know where the piles of money to attack teachers is coming from," said MPP Taras Natyshak, the NDP’s ethics and accountability critic, in a statement.
"Third parties have to play by the rules in Ontario, and Doug Ford can’t look the other way so his buddies can use PC Party messaging to attack teachers and help his agenda of cuts to education."
The mysterious ads come as this week is filled with escalated job action from all of Ontario's biggest teachers' unions.
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