The misinformation strategy

Thanks to Merv Adey at for beginning an examination of commentary in BC’s corporate media during the Liberals’ years-long campaign to degrade this province’s public education system.

flagOf BC’s journalists, Gary Mason was the most forthright in advising teachers to surrender their rights without visiting Canada’s highest court. Since the Supreme Court of Canada decision a week ago, Mason has written about other issues without retracting or offering further directions to educators.

Teachers’ Federation would do well to raise the white flag, Gary Mason, Globe and Mail, May 1, 2015:

It’s difficult to overstate what a shattering blow the B.C. Court of Appeal’s ruling Thursday on classroom working conditions is to the B.C. Teachers’ Federation.

The union didn’t just lose. It got thumped in unequivocal fashion.

The union has already indicated it will seek leave to appeal the decision. After reading the appeal court’s 4-1 ruling, one strains to see where the federation believes it has a chance at victory at the Supreme Court of Canada. Also, one wonders how warm teachers will be to the idea of seeing their union dues go towards financing such a challenge. The union has already spent $2-million it won from the government at an earlier point in this long-running squabble – money it now has to return.

…The BCTF must seek permission to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada. Last year, there were 80 applications from B.C. for an SCC appeal and eight were accepted, so there is no reason to believe the union’s application is sure to succeed.

The union will not win at the country’s highest court. It would be better off negotiating terms of a peace accord with the government…

In a column immediately after the BC Court of Appeal delivered its now discredited decision to quash Justice Griffin’s judgement, Keith Baldrey’s community newspaper column revealed either ignorance of the legal action or an aim to misinform readers and gain sympathy for the Liberal Government:

…what this fight between the government and the union is all about: bargaining rights, and how far they extend.

A key point is this: once something is put into a government’s collective agreement with a public sector union, is it there forever if the union refuses to take it out?

The 14 years dispute between teachers and Liberals was not about exclusion of any particular clause in a labour contract. According to the courts, it was about unconstitutional behaviour of Government using legislative power to ensure an approximately equal bargaining position could not exist between employer and employees. Words of Appeal Court Justice Donald, determined correct by the high court, were unequivocal:

[281] …the Province unconstitutionally interfered with the BCTF’s s. 2(d) rights by making collective bargaining an ostensibly futile act…

[313] …It is important to stress that this case is not an examination of a single isolated government action, nor is this case an examination of the effects of a single statute. Rather, this case is the culmination of at least 13 years of systemic and institutionalized negation of the BCTF’s s. 2(d) right to associate collectively to achieve important workplace goals.

Perhaps ignorant of the 14 thousand words used by Justice Donald to describe complex facts of this landmark constitutional case, in B.C. teachers just won the lottery, columnist Baldrey still clings to the simplistic notion that the disagreement was primarily about who controls the classroom. The insult to good journalism is made worse by the headline Glacier Media attached to this opinion piece.

Individual teachers have hardly won a lottery. Not an extra cent has yet gone into public education and when it does, wage levels will not change. More teachers will be needed to deliver improved educational services but those changes won’t increase pecuniary rewards for any person now employed. We can only hope the public school system will improve and, if it does, that will be a benefit for every citizen of British Columbia.

However, this is a province where government spends billions annually to subsidize multinational resource and power companies and spent a decade and a half in the courts fighting delivery of educational services to children in need. BC Liberals, found by the land’s highest court to be contemptuous of constitutional rights, cannot be counted on to change priorities.

British Columbia functions on a system of pay-to-play and our children don’t write cheques to the BC Liberal Party and its leaders. The only certain government change must come by the ballot box.


 “Our ability to adapt is amazing. Our ability to change isn’t quite as spectacular.” ― Lisa Lutz

For additional background, read Thoughts on Education From the Inside, a 2014 article by my educator son, Brad Farrell.

11 replies »

  1. It makes me sad to think of all the talented young educators in the profession we lost, as they struggled to learn & master their craft in a system rendered almost untenable by underfunding and CS&C conditions, and eventually left.

    Likely many potential Education students were turned away before even starting, by the decade + long smear campaign leveled by the govt & a compliant MSM.

    It may be difficult to find enough qualified teachers to fill all the openings that the Supreme Court win will (should) create. At minimum, it could decimate on-call lists in many districts.


  2. The disgraceful behaviour of the Liberal government going back to Christy Clark as Minister of Education through the present lack of repentance, is only matched by the oil industry controlled media’s utter abandonment of journalistic principles in modern BC.
    NO, the teachers are not blameless for all the bad blood. Their own internecine warfare did much to contribute. BUT this fight wasn’t between the BCTF and WAC Bennett but on illegal erasure of citizens’ rights and refusal to accept the highest court’s decision, not once but twice. It was a colossal waste of taxpayers money to satisfy the childish petulance of a little girl with her knickers in a knot, reopening old wounds as but one consequence. The Premier carries with her the good fortune that the oil industry and its lickspittles reported it badly, if at all.

    Oh for the Marjorie Nichols and Jack Webster of yore … hell, oh for the Vaughn Palmer of yore.


  3. This fight was never about policy or who controls the classroom. This was about a group of people who stood up and fought back. This is about a premier who has nothing but contempt for teachers and BC’s public school system. Her ego was severly bruised the first time she lost at the SCC. That’s the reason this was at the SCC a second and it’s why they handed her her ass on a silver plate. And now Christy prentends like 14 years of anguish never happened and her pals in the media are only to happy to oblige.


  4. Added to this list of corporate commentators must be Micahel Smyth of The Province. For years his agenda has been to turn the #bced struggle into a squabble of equivalency (even Rafe falls for it). This is FUD at its best: turn it into a street fight between two equal combatants and the real aggressor disappears. I commented on this back in 2014:

    You can also see the equivalency tactic in play with Michael Smyth’s first column on the SCC ruling last week:


    • What’s this equivalence bullshit you have me falling for? I went out of my way to make it clear that this dispute was not part of the ancient feud but Christy’s vindictiveness from beginning to end and that the blame was not shared.

      If you read what I said you would see that I was critical of Crawford Kilian dragging ancient battles with WAC into it and giving Clark an escape hatch.

      At no time did I say there was an equivalence between the fight Clark picked and spent a fortune of our money on and past disputes.


  5. Rafe Mair’s last line made me laugh. yes how I too wish for the likes of Nichols and Webster and the old much younger Palmer. It is clear to me part of the problem in this province is the absolute slavish adherence by the press to the principles of the Queen of Photo Ops and Christy Clarke and the B.C. Lieberals. its like they took leave of their senses and their ethics all in one swoop.

    The B.C. Lieberals spent a shit load of my tax dollars on this game with the teachers, only to loose. Now it could be said Christy and her cabal also saved money by not funding schools boards as they ought to. Christy certainly helped push the agenda of private schools. It was a broad assault on public education but also the BCTF. They are the last major union in the province which continues to be a problem for the B.C.Lieberals. Their decision to cut the clause from the collective agreement reduce the no. of teachers in this province by approx. 3k and that meant 3K fewer dues paying union members for the BCTF.

    The press will try to down play this and of course be less than truthful. Only by increasing the number of private schools in this province can the B.C. Lieberals reduce the number of BCTF MEMBERS.

    Lets hope parents vote with their children’s educations in mind. We have seen what the defunding of the American school system has done for them. Lets not let it happen in B.,C.

    Christy isn’t the brightest tool so we can expect something from her when she and her white suit return from Ottawa.

    Here’s a thought, if we had more teachers in the schools and smaller classes, who knows we might have had fewer kids trying drugs and less dying from fent. of course I believe Christy doesn’t really care too much about either problems.


    • When oh when will the public understand that Postmedia that owns the Sun, Province and National Post has a written “mutual masturbation” (love-in, if you’re sensitive!) agreement with the Csnadisn Association of Petroleum Association which supports Christy in all things. For the umpteenth time, I will provide copies on request at


  6. I think we can all agree that BC is woefully under served by our captured media and their talking heads. When the media and government start being interchangeable you know you’ve reached banana republic territory. What we need is an outside entity to come in and go buck wild. Questions about the bankrupting of BC Hydro with sweet heart deals to pals,
    Questions about our perpetually investigated premier for her ethically challenged ways.
    Questions about a check for 150,000 taxpayer dollars a private plane ride to Old Massett and her brothers business ventures during an election.
    Questions about the Health ministry firings and the utter disasters for investigations. And the lack of information then 4,000,000 item document dump delay tactics.
    I could literally go on and on and still forget some of the scandals this government has been allowed to get away with by our “4th estate”. Since the Globe and Mail has done a bang up job on our hosing problems that our media wouldn’t touch i’m going to buy a subscription and fire off some emails telling them of the absolute wealth of opportunity that the Neo-Liberal party of BC has to offer.
    Questions about our premier and all of her minions triple deleting emails breaking the law.
    Questions about the sale of BC Rail and subsequent payoff and silencing of two patsies err… ministerial aides.
    My God think of the possibilities for an investigative reporter that would actually you know …investigate. As far as scandals go i would imagine someone not from around here coming in would be like stories of the gold rush and them finding what they would call free gold just laying right on top of the river beds. Or the explorers finding the fish on the eastern banks so thick you could just dip a basket in and pull them out. Scandal as far as the eye can see out here in bountiful BC ! Hitch up the wagon and head on out Globe and Mail we sorely need representation and you wouldn’t even have to try hard. Taking down the worst government BC has ever had by every standard would be nothing but net to an organization with scruples and tenacity. I’m sure you would sell a lot of subscriptions if you did that.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. The mainstream media have become the willing surrogates of the right wing political elite. In short, they have been bought off.

    Vague Palmer ignores major transgressions of Premier Photo-op and takes every chance to bash Horgan.

    B.S. Baldry is just that a shallow spin doctor.

    Dead Dog 98 is so lost with nobody hosts or neoliberal crackpots they have ceased to be relevant.

    Postmedia is nothing more akin to Jim Crow yellow journalism of the 20’s and 30’s.

    Lowballs and other TV outlets are nothing but puffery, fake news and adoration to photo-op.

    The CBC is lost in political hubris not of their making.

    It is the lowly blogs that the real news is released but I am afraid that there is a cabal of the MSN supporting bogus blogs and fake news sources to pretend that blogs and social media are third rate.

    Unfortunately time is growing and the memories of the golden age of news ; Webster, Nichols, Wasserman, Fotheringham and scores more were truly the fifth estate.

    News, real news has died in a whimper of neglect orchestrated by the very elites real news tried to keep honest.


  8. Of course. Global now has TWO ex-anchors that are attempting to kow-tow to Christy. What that does to the image of objectivity is fairly clear. The MSM is a sad, pathetic parody. What will happen I wonder when Christy loses the 2017 election? Will these “paragons” attempt to get their old jobs back? Considering Smythe, Baldrey and Palmer as BC’s political voice is comical. They all take turns borrowing the well-worn knee-pads when addressing the BC Liberals.


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