End this bloody B.C. school war

Even a trigger-happy Premier Christy Clark will be staying in her trench, after the bleeding wound she received last week

Former BCTF president Susan Lambert used to call for a 25% income tax increase to pay for teacher demands. New president Jim Iker says if the government can afford the Olympics....

VICTORIA – There are two reasons why the B.C. government must appeal the latest court ruling that damns its conduct, assesses damages of $2 million plus lawyer bills and appears to hand the B.C. Teachers’ Federation the keys to the treasury.

The first is practical politics. The legislature reopens Feb. 11, ironically right after Family Day. An appeal will give rookie Education Minister Peter Fassbender the cover he will need during the daily 30 minutes of sniper fire that is Question Period.

Rise. “It’s before the courts, Madam Speaker.” Sit.

Even the trigger-happy Premier Christy Clark will be staying in her trench, after the bleeding wound she received from Justice Susan Griffin last week.

The second reason is practical economics. The 2014 budget has gone to press. Government lawyers told the court that retroactively returning to 2001 classroom rules could cost $500 million, an estimate Griffin dismissed as “speculative.”

It could include compensation to retired teachers for earnings they gave up. This retroactive lump would be on top of the ongoing costs, running to hundreds of millions more as 60 school districts try to reassemble the world of 2002.

This union victory began when the Supreme Court of Canada invented a constitutional right to collective bargaining in 2007, based on “freedom of association” in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The BCTF is piggy-backing on that landmark decision, in favour of the Hospital Employees’ Union, after Gordon Campbell ran roughshod over their sweetheart contract from the Glen Clark years. That one was settled for $85 million, including retroactive payments.

In case there are parents and taxpayers who still believe that all would be calm had the NDP won the 2013 election, allow me to put that to rest.

NDP leader Adrian Dix took to his Facebook page a couple of days after last week’s ruling, joining calls for an apology from Clark. That would be for what Justice Griffin characterized as deliberately provoking a strike to build public support for the latest of a long line of settlements imposed on teachers.

Within minutes, Dix received this caustic response from Tara Ehrcke, president of the Greater Victoria teachers’ union.

“But where was the NDP during the election campaign?” Ehrcke asked Dix. “You committed a measly $100 million – a third of what it will take to restore class sizes and less than the [NDP] platform in 2009, and only pocket change more than the Liberals’ Learning Improvement Fund of $75 million.”

Note the mindset of this prominent member of the radical fringe that controls the BCTF. “A measly $100 million.” An extra $25 million? “Pocket change.” This is the same union boss who demanded that hundreds of teachers be hired starting this week, reorganizing current classes in the middle of the school year to make them smaller by one or two students.

Parents and students would endure yet another major disruption of the public school system.

And who needs an increase in rural ambulance service or drug and alcohol treatment for street kids. Let’s get those teacher-librarians back in schools, and slightly reduce class sizes to offset declining enrolment!

No government, B.C. Liberal, NDP or Green Party, can let its unions control their own payroll, just as no private company can. That goes double for this union, which had its own obvious role in provoking an illegal strike in 2012. It made outrageous benefit demands and cancelled extra-curriculars for months before it even specified its wage demand.

Bargaining, if you can call it that, resumes shortly. Both sides need to cease fire.

Tom Fletcher is legislature reporter and columnist for Black Press. Twitter: @tomfletcherbc

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

It’s election day in B.C. (Black Press files)
It’s Election Day in B.C.: Here’s what you need to know to vote

B.C.’s snap election has already broken records for advance voter turnout, mail-in ballots

B.C. Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau outlines her party's climate action platform at Nanaimo's Vancouver Island Conference Centre earlier this month. (News Bulletin file photo)
Green leader Furstenau declared victor in her home riding on Vancouver Island

Cowichan Valley voters elect freshly minted party leader for her second term

John Horgan has been re-elected the MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca. (File-Black Press)
Horgan trounces challengers to be re-elected in his Vancouver Island riding

MLA has represented constituency of Langford-Juan de Fuca and its predecessors since 2005

Sven Spichiger, Washington State Department of Agriculture managing entomologist, displays a canister of Asian giant hornets vacuumed from a nest in a tree behind him Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. Scientists in Washington state discovered the first nest earlier in the week of so-called murder hornets in the United States and worked to wipe it out Saturday morning to protect native honeybees. Workers with the state Agriculture Department spent weeks searching, trapping and using dental floss to tie tracking devices to Asian giant hornets, which can deliver painful stings to people and spit venom but are the biggest threat to honeybees that farmers depend on to pollinate crops. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Crews vacuum ‘murder hornets’ out of Washington nest, first-ever in U.S.

The nest found in the city of Blaine near the Canadian border is about the size of a basketball

Upgrades underway at the Sunnyside Reservoir, adjacent to Sunnyside Acres Urban Forest, raised concerns among some residents Tuesday (Oct. 20), however, stewards of the park say everything went off without a hitch. (Tracy Holmes photo)
‘No issue’ with South Surrey reservoir drainage, despite trail user concerns: urban forest steward

Forest visitor taken aback by ‘unprecedented flooding’ of trails

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam responds to a question during a news conference Friday October 23, 2020 in Ottawa. Canada’s top physician says she fears the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths may increase in the coming weeks as the second wave continues to drive the death toll toward 10,000. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns severe illness likely to rise, trailing spike in COVID-19 cases

Average daily deaths from virus reached 23 over the past seven days, up from six deaths six weeks ago

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

BC Hydro map showing where power has been knocked out is dotted with over a dozen outages. (BC Hydro map screenshot)
Thousands without power in Lower Mainland on election day

One outage in Langley and Surrey is affecting over 4,000 customers

file
One dead after fiery crash near Agassiz

Agassiz RCMP report a 56-year-old man died Friday night

The possibility of the Canadian Premier League expanding to the Fraser Valley has been floated online. (Facebook photo)
Canadian Premier League possibly eyeing Fraser Valley expansion

Soccer league looking to add ninth team to the mix, B.C. markets potentially rumoured

Most Read