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Former Premier and teacher Mike Harris gives 'back to school' plan a passing grade

'From what I have seen around North America I do not see any plan better than he has put in place for the province of Ontario and we hope it works'

NORTH BAY — Former Premier Mike Harris says he supports the province's back to school plan. 

Harris made the comments while attending the opening ceremonies at the 22nd Annual Osprey Links Golf Gala which raises funds for local cancer care.

Harris has been the honourary chair of the golf fundraiser since the start of the event.   

A former teacher and school board chairman himself before becoming Premier from 1995 to 2002, Harris believes Premier Doug Ford has done a great job with his back to school strategy under the current COVID-19 circumstances. He was employed as an elementary school teacher at W. J. Fricker Public School.

"This is very challenging, I think it is safe to say, and the Premier has said it, 'We are all in unchartered territory,' but I think he has listened carefully - he and the minister - to the health officials and the safety officials in balancing no school versus school," said Harris, who currently serves as Chair of the Board of Chartwell Retirement Residences. 

"I think there is optionality in the plan for different boards and different circumstances and you know, we will see. I think flexibility is part of the key but from what I have seen around North America I do not see any plan better than he has put in place for the province of Ontario and we hope it works."

Harris was also critical of the way the teachers' unions have responded to Ford's plan.    

"It strikes me that the union leadership keeps getting re-elected by fighting Bob Rae, then David Peterson, then Mike Harris then whoever the Premier of the day is, which I think is a little bit unfortunate," Harris told the media on the practice green at Osprey Links prior to his tee time for the charity event.  

"I think they could be a little bit more positive and constructive in helping along."