It is ironic that Feb. 29, Anti-Bullying Day, debate on Bill 22, the Education “Improvement” Act, began in our “democratic” Legislature.
This “legislation” (more like dictate) will complete the “draconian” (Supreme Court of Canada description), “Run Silent, Run Deep”, Neo-liberal, union-busting, contract-stripping agenda that Gordon, Christie, George and their minions started in 2002.
The BC Supreme Court found that the BC Legislative Assembly was misled in 2002, by then Minister Clark, who introduced contract-stripping legislation to bring into effect a covert plan based on information that was exposed as, “evidence [that] tended to characterize the facts less than objectively”, “not accurate”, “anecdotal hearsay”, and was “so vague and unsubstantiated that is was impossible to challenge it meaningfully”, and, that:
In April 2011, the court ruled that the Liberal government violated teachers’ Charter of Rights and Freedoms and ordered it to provide a remedy within 12 months of the ruling. The government’s remedy is contained in the legislation and consists of what could be described as a $165 million dollar “fine” when compared to the $3 billion dollars it has saved over 10 years by illegally stripping our contracts. Not one word of the illegally stripped language has been or is proposed to be returned to our collective agreements as part of the remedy.
What was the effect of the government’s illegal actions on K-12 public education in BC?
Since 2001, there has been a 22 per cent reduction in K-12 funding as a percentage of the total provincial budget.
Our School Board is scrambling to meet a $1.55 million shortfall in funding for next year partly due to this government making us a “losing” district in its new funding formula and our Board will close schools; increase class sizes; and reduce specialist teachers to meet budget shortfalls.
BC teachers now rank ninth in pay in Canada and have not had any substantial improvements in benefits in 20 years.
Minister Abbot has already starting to “spin” his Education “Improvement” Act as being a good thing for BC students and teachers and may weave a tenuous, new web of deceit that will again take us all back into the courts to unravel.
For a business-friendly government, it is ironic that this government has no respect for negotiated contracts or The Rule of Law, which everyone in business survives and thrives by.
We are prepared to stand up to the bully and his minions that are threatening us incessantly and we are asking anyone who believes in social justice, contracts and The Rule of Law to stand with us.
Bill 22 is a blatant example of Naomi Klein’s “Shock Doctrine.” Her thesis, is that those who wish to implement unpopular policies routinely do so by taking advantage of economic upheaval or other disasters and feed on the public’s desire for bold and immediate action.
This climate provides an opportunity for unscrupulous actors to implement policies which go far beyond any legitimate responses. When the rush to act means the specifics of a response will go un-scrutinized, that is the moment when unpopular and unrelated policies will intentionally be rushed into effect. The analogy is profound. The effect is demoralizing to those impacted.
Andrew M. Davidoff, President
Kootenay Columbia Teachers’ Union