Wednesday, January 29, 2014

BCTF finds success in the courts; but BC Government considering appeal

For the second time in recent years, the Supreme Court of British Columbia has ruled that the Provincial Government has taken a wrong turn in the seemingly never ending labour disputes between the Province of British Columbia and the BCTF.

The most recent decision came by way of Madam Justice Susan Griffin, who outlined her judgment in a lengthy document released on Monday morning.

Those looking for some in depth reading of the Supreme Court decision can review all of the 683 passages, plus Appendix from the Court Register of the BC Supreme Court. (see here)

It makes for a second edition of the judgment issued in 2011, which stated that the constitutional rights of BC's teachers had been violated.  Act II if you will, came about from a 12 month period that
the Province had been provided for to take appropriate measures.

The Coles Notes version of Madam Griffin's deliberations of Monday come by way of reporters, columnists, broadcasters and editorial writers of the province.

The majority of whom appear to be in consensus, that the legal rebuke should give Premier Christie Clark cause to consider a new approach,  when it comes to relations between her government and the provinces' educational sector.

In a stream of columns, reports and editorials, the background of the disputes, which date back as far as 2002 and in particular  of the events of June of 2012 and the court case that followed. Provide for a wide ranging review of recent labour history between the two sides.

With the main thrust of the day's documentation being that the Government has been delivered a message it should heed and address.

Victoria Times Colonist-- Provoking strike was shameful
Victoria Times Colonist-- Fallout from BCTF ruling is staggering
Victoria Times Colonist-- Government conned parents and kids
Victoria Times Colonist-- B. C. Teachers' Federation wins sweeping court victory
Victoria News-- Court rejects B. C. class size law again; Province to pay teachers $2 million
Vancouver Province-- Court loss to BCTF could cost taxpayers plenty
Vancouver Sun-- On labour deals, Victoria giveth and the court taketh away
Vancouver Sun-- Court orders B. C. to restore class sizes and pay $2 million in damages to teachers
The Tyee-- Slammed by court on teacher dealings, Libs can't say they weren't warned
The Tyee-- BC Court rules in favour of teachers' union on Bill 22
24 Hours-- B. C. Teachers awarded $2 million in Bill 22 fight
CBC-- B. C. Teachers' Federation wins $2 M in damages from province
Global BC-- BCTF scores major victory on class size and composition
Global BC-- BCTF wins class size battle with provincial government

For the Government however, it appears that the legal decision isn't so much as judgment, but an indication that they need to make their case more appealing, with the prospect of a legal appeal apparently something that the Provincial Government is giving consideration to.

Education Minister Peter Fassbender outlined the government's disappointment in the decision, through a media availability session on Monday afternoon (listen here)

Premier Clark also seems to be expressing the theme that as far as  the Government is concerned, the final chapter on this topic has yet to be delivered.

Vancouver Sun-- B. C. will likely appeal teachers ruling that fined province $2 million: Christy Clark
CBC-- School boards warn restoring class sizes will be expensive

The developments of Monday made for much in the way of conversation topics on the major radio stations of the province.

Bill Good from CKNW featured the Court Decision as his opening editorial on Tuesday's talk show program, (CKNW Audio Vault 8:35 January 28)

As well on Tuesday, the CBC's on the Coast Program provides a helpful review of the developments, through an interview with former Vancouver Sun Education reporter Janet Steffenhagen. She now writes an education blog for the BC Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils.

Her thoughts on Monday's judgment can be found from the January 28th edition of the On the Coast Program her contribution arrives at the 5:12 PM mark of the program (listen here)

Ms. Steffenhagen also composed her own review of the Monday court judgment for the BCCPAC blog,  it can be found here.

While the Court Decision is clearly an indictment of the Government's handling of the education issue over the last What becomes of it all into the future remains to be seen.

The Province may choose to kick the political football down the road with it's potential appeal. While returning to the theme of late of fiscal responsibility when it comes to the education sector.

Contract negotiations currently underway may provide for more contentious issues to discuss and as always School District's across the province all await further instructions as to which direction the province wishes them to go.

One thing does seem certain however, relations between the Province and the BCTF probably still have a ways to go, before anyone will be able to use the word collaborative.

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