February 17/14: Board Meeting: The Record Off The Record: Restored Retroactively

The rest of  TROTR  for Monday’s Board meeting (February 17, 2014) , along with audio files, will come later this week. The entire agenda for this meeting is on the SD61 website. For now, just a highlight.

Chair: Orcherton
Present: Alpha, Ferris, Horsman, Leonard, Loring-Kuhanga, McNally, Nohr, Orcherton
Absent:  McEvoy,  which allowed the tie votes.

At C.1 (c) on the agenda, my motion tabled to this meeting at the very end of the  February 3/14 Education Policy meeting:

McNally: That the Board write a letter to the Premier of British Columbia urging the Premier to abandon the Province’s appeal of the ruling of Justice Griffin in British Colombia Teacher’s Federation vs  British Columbia 2014 BCSC 121, Date: 20140127, Docket L021662, Registry: Vancouver.


For: Alpha, Loring-Kuhanga, McNally, Nohr.

Against: Ferris, Horsman, Leonard, Orcherton

  • Orcherton: This motion is similar to Nohr’s which failed at the last meeting. [At 8.B on page 2 Lined Paper February 11/14 OPPS agenda.] Want to withdraw?
  • McNally:  No. This motion deals with only the appeal and not with funding. We are dealing with a rogue government that has contravened rulings of the BC Supreme Court three times now. What part of “reinstated” is hard to understand? Almost any clause in a collective agreement is subject to negotiation in bargaining, which is the “not written in stone” part, and the province and the BCTF are currently bargaining, but meanwhile: The 2002 language has been restored retrocatively.  It does not have to be negotiated in. Lindsay Kines of the TC, an award-winning journalist,  has quoted Justice Griffin as saying:

“They have had certain language returned to their collective agreement retroactively. This does not guarantee that the language is clad in stone, as it can and likely will need to be the subject of ongoing collective bargaining.”

  • Alpha: Griffin’s ruling is not based in politics but is based in law and is above bias. Worried about democracy. With a government that has ignored the law three times now, are we drifting close to fascism? Hitler started out with mild actions. [Leonard interrupts, saying  “Stay on topic”. Alpha counters. And continues.] If we stay on this path we will move there. We need to take this seriously and be concerned with what we are losing.
  • Nohr: Disappointed that my motion didn’t pass at OPPS.  We need a strong bold statement. Because my motion failed I will support this one. There should be a collective voice across the province. Will support this motion as a first step.
  • Leonard: Not saying the government is right but they do have the right to appeal, so won’t support this.

Clearly, this motion does not deny the government’s right to appeal. It asks them to drop the appeal.

  • Tetrault (1dst VP GVTA): Government does have the right to appeal but they have an ethical and moral responsibility to honour what courts have decided three times now. They claim there is no money to fund the collective agreement language on class size and composition but have dragged  this issue through the courts using taxpayers’ money  for 12 years!
  • Loring-Kuhanga: How many children have gone through the system without proper funding, while money is wasted on legal  costs? As elected trustees we need to send a strong message to government: this money should be redirected to class size and composition, and the government needs to stand up and fund the changes.
  • Ferris: Most comments around the table were made in regard to the OPPS motion [ from Nohr. So we can’t make them again at the Board?] This motion is doing exactly what that motion was doing, saying that the government does not have a right to appeal. Also, education initiatives are never fully funded. We should ask the government to go to the table and negotiate. It’s unlikely we will return to 2002.

The BCTF and the Province  are bargaining already and have been for some time. The language has been reinstated. It does not have to be negotiated in. The reinstated language is the BCTF’s starting point. Justice Griffin has established that in  her  BC Supreme Court ruling, The language from 2002  is not a wish list from the BCTF.

And once more, [reading comprehension question?]  my motion is not saying or even implying that the government has no right to appeal, and neither did Nohr’s. It’s asking  the Province  to stand down on the appeal.

  • Horsman: I understand the issues raised. Government has the right to appeal. We have a government that doesn’t believe the ruling was correct. We can’‘t be left holding the bag for the funding. Wish we could ask for an expedited appeal. We have no ability to bring back this reality unless the government funds it.

Again with the “right to appeal”.  The right to appeal is Not Being Challenged By The Motion. And what we have is not a government that doesn’t think the ruling is correct; we have a cynical out-of-control government that does not want to lose to a union  of workers and will do anything to stall and make detours around compliance yet again with the Supreme Court of BC ruling , while they hone their strategy of blaming “greedy unions” for the financial situation. This government has robbed public education now for 14 years.  

  • Orcherton: Would be great to be able to support this motion. But Boards are the meat in the sandwich. Don’t have another $8 million to support the 2002 language. Allow the legal process to move forward. If we step into the fray the Minister might say “Fine, you fund it”. There is a process underway that we are not in control of. The government wouldn’t want the embarrassment.

The letter to the Minister from SD41 Burnaby shows that “embarrassing the government” is not something they worried about too much at the Board table in Burnaby. It’s hard to believe  anyone could think that  this brazen BC Liberal group  that disregards the Supreme Court of BC is even capable of embarrassment. They’re well beyond that. Thank you, Burnaby:

  • School District 41: Drop the appeal

    School District 41: Drop the appeal


Next meeting: March 3 combination  Ed Policy / OPPS before spring break.

About Diane McNally