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McGuinty asks for extracurriculars back

TORONTO - Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty says he's asked union leaders to allow teachers to resume extracurricular activities in public schools across the province.

He says he received no assurances that the voluntary activities would be restored, but he wanted to reach out personally to see if they could find a way to move ahead.

Two unions representing public elementary and high school teachers were outraged Thursday by his government's decision to use a controversial anti-strike law to impose new two-year contracts on their 126,000 members.

The law had prompted one-day strikes by elementary teachers, while their high school counterparts cut out extracurriculars, such as sports and clubs.

But McGuinty has promised to repeal the law before the end of the month, when he steps down as premier.

It's not clear whether that's enough to convince teachers to go back to voluntary activities once students return to class on Monday.

In an interview with The Canadian Press from Ottawa, McGuinty said he doesn't regret bringing in the legislation, even though it ended up enflaming tensions with teachers.

But he still plans to get rid of it after using the legislation to impose collective agreements, which cut benefits and freeze the wages of most teachers.

Union leaders haven't said what action they'll take in the weeks ahead, but they have warned that it won't be "business as usual."

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