Our View: Ten years to same result

Once again our provincial government has spun for us a cautionary tale.

This one is rooted deeply enough in the past to qualify as historic.

It was 2002. British Columbians had elected a new government about a year earlier.

It was a brand new government. Gordon Campbell’s Liberals had trounced a scandal-ridden NDP government at the polls with a phenomenal majority.

The Liberals had 77 of 79 seats in the legislature, and the NDP, with just two seats, didn’t even qualify for full party status.

The Liberals were on a mission, and they tackled it with a vengeance. Anyone who had ever supported the NDP was going to pay for the previous decade.

Nurses and health care workers had already been put in their place, and now it was the teachers’ turn.

A signed and sealed contract between teachers and their employer – effectively, the province of B.C. – included such provisions as limits to class sizes.

No more. The Liberals enacted legislation that effectively nullified that contract. And they virtually dared the B.C. Teachers’ Federation to do something about it.

The BCTF took up the gauntlet – and took the government to court.

And they won.

The court declared the Liberal legislation illegal.

But like any a schoolyard bully feeling bolstered by overwhelming might, the Liberal government responded by enacting new legislation… which the courts have again ruled against, awarding the BCTF $2 million in damages.

The hard feelings that the Liberals’ ill-conceived reactionary efforts have engendered won’t abate soon.

But there might be some hope… if the government gives up its folly, and finally gives the teachers their court-ordered due.

– B.G.

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