This nonsense "battle with the teachers," Premier Dalton McGuinty is engaged in is so much hype.
First, McGuinty recalls the Legislature early with great urgency last week, saying it's imperative the back-to-work legislation freezing teacher pay and banning strikes and lock-outs for two years pass quickly.
Just when we're all set to see the new law pushed through within days, the government puts on the legislative brakes.
Suddenly, they start to rag the legislative puck with silly motions, like one debating the value of all-day kindergarten. It's as if the government is filibustering its own legislation.
Now we discover that the legislation will pass next week -- conveniently after the two hotly-fought byelections in Vaughan and Kitchener-Waterloo.
Pardon my suspicious nature, but this stinks to high heaven.
This is the government that for the past nine years has caved to every teacher demand. They created the crisis in pay and pensions by handing out lavish settlements when everyone else was getting zero.
This is the same government that has been in lockstep with the so-called Working Families Coalition, a group comprised of major unions -- including teachers -- that's funded attack ads against the Conservatives in the past four elections.
Suddenly, that's out of the window. While some of the teacher unions have produced tough anti-Lib advertising campaigns, Working Families appears dormant during the byelections.
I suspect this is all playacting by the government: theatre of the absurd that will be resolved the minute the two byelections are over.
The votes are crucial to all parties.
Last fall, the Liberals won 53 seats; Tories 37 and the NDP 17. With the resignation of two MPPs (Liberal Greg Sorbara in Vaughan and Tory Elizabeth Witmer in Kitchener-Waterloo), all that could change.
If the Liberals win both seats, McGuinty will have the majority government he desperately wants.
I suspect that won't happen. The NDP has a high-profile candidate, Catherine Fife, in K-W and they have high hopes of taking the riding.
Despite the Liberals throwing everything at the campaign -- McGuinty and his cabinet ministers have swarmed the twin city during the campaign -- insiders say K-W is a tight three-way race. It can go any way.
While conventional wisdom says the Liberals will safely return Vaughan to their fold, it could prove problematic.
Sorbara has held the riding as his personal fiefdom since 2001. But the riding also has a Conservative pedigree.
Federally, it's held by Minister of International Cooperation Julian Fantino. Sorbara won the seat in the byelection after the death of Al Palladini, a minister in Mike Harris's government.
While Sorbara won it handily last time around, never underestimate the propensity of voters to send a stern message to a government in a byelection. Especially when that government is out of touch and mired in mucky scandals like Ornge and the $190 million it cost to cancel the Mississauga power plant in the middle of the last election.
Thursday's outcome could shape the political fortunes of two leaders: If PC leader Tim Hudak doesn't put on a good show, he'll be under intense pressure from within his party to move on and make way for a new leader.
McGuinty would like to move on -- but it's tough to hold a leadership convention in a minority parliament.
My fearless predictions: The NDP will take Kitchener Waterloo. The Tories will take Vaughan.
And next week, when there's no need for any more posturing, I boldly predict the last teacher unions will sign on to the government's proposed contract -- and the government will withdraw its bill.
And peace will reign once more between the Liberals and the teacher unions.