Thanks to Merv Adey at BCVeritas.com 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.
Of 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:
 …the Province unconstitutionally interfered with the BCTF’s s. 2(d) rights by making collective bargaining an ostensibly futile act…
 …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.
For additional background, read Thoughts on Education From the Inside, a 2014 article by my educator son, Brad Farrell.