Routley supporting teachers on picket line

Cowichan Valley MLA – Re: Where is our MLA’s voice in teacher strike? July 2, 2014 New Democrat Leader John Horgan, education critic Rob Fleming and many other MLAs have been visiting and supporting teachers at our schools to hear their concerns. Like other New Democrat MLAs I’ve also spent time out on the picket lines, and will continue to show my support for Cowichan teachers.

In addition to showing support for teachers on the picket lines, New Democrats have brought tough questions to Premier Christy Clark and her Education Minister in the legislature, and we’ve been vocal in the media about the need for the Liberal government to step up and negotiate a fair deal.

In 2002, then Education Minister

Christy Clark brought in legislation that basically ripped up the teachers agreement and attacked learning conditions in the classroom. This especially impacted children with special needs and undermined learning conditions for all children in our classrooms. The Supreme Court ruled in 2011 that what the government did was wrong, and they did not appeal this decision.

Then, when the Liberal government brought in Bill 22, I spoke out passionately against it, as this bill was “virtually identical” to the previous law that was struck down as unconstitutional.

January 2014 the B.C. Supreme court judgment concluded “the government did not bargain in good faith.” Justice Susan Griffin said, “government representatives were pre-occupied with a strategy to provoke a strike”.

I think that’s all too familiar. It’s how this government deals with teachers. At a time when leadership is needed to bring both sides in this dispute together to achieve a respectful settlement, the B.C. Liberal government has continued to play political games with our children’s education. Fair collective agreements are negotiated at the bargaining table, not in the media or in the legislature. It’s up to the Liberals to do the right thing and negotiate a fair deal.

I recognize that students, parents and teachers deserve better than what they’ve been getting from the B.C. Liberals for the past 12 years, and I will continue to work towards a stronger public education system that meets the needs of students and respects teachers.

Bill Routley

Cowichan Valley MLA

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