Adrian Dix took a swipe Monday at Premier Christy Clark’s government for “acting in a childish way” and intentionally provoking a teacher strike.
Speaking to reporters in Courtenay, the New Democrat leader suggests politics, not public interest, is determining BC Liberal decisions on public education and negotiations with educators.
“The government is choosing not to even follow its own law,” he said. “Their own laws talk about a limit to the number of special-needs students in classrooms.”
The Comox Valley School District is preparing for possible job action after B.C. teachers voted in favour of a strike.
Dix notes about 80 local classrooms contain more than six special-needs students — though the law says no more than three — which creates challenges for both teachers and students.
“The students themselves, they don’t get to do Grade 4 again while the premier messes around with the system,” he said. “It’s so disrespectful. It’s contrary to what the premier said. You heard her all through the election campaign. She was about stability in education. About labour peace and education. Now she’s caught in court on the record by her own people saying that what she said was a lie.”
The NDP says court transcripts show the B.C. government’s chief negotiator admitted under oath the Province was trying to provoke a full-scale teachers’ strike.
In a ruling last month, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Susan Griffin found the Province had violated teachers’ constitutional rights in an ongoing dispute between government and the B.C. Teachers’ Federation. Earlier in the year, the Province was ordered to pay $2 million in damages for stripping teachers of their collective bargaining rights and failing to reinstate them when ordered by the court.
The decision followed last year’s ruling that legislation interfered with teachers’ bargaining rights, and deleted certain terms that prohibited bargaining to do with class size, composition and support for special-needs students — the same contentious issues since 2002, Dix said.