“Can they really do that?
As that question echoed through the halls of the province’s schools Monday, the obvious answer was, “Yes, of course they can.”
The question Mike De Jong and the Liberal government might have asked themselves is, “Should we do that.”
While we’ve rarely found fault with the Liberals’ dealings with the big unions of this province, this latest move should give many pause.
The introduction of legislation that would extend the teachers’ contract that expired in June 2004 to June 2006 could easily be scene as a tactic to show the teachers who has got the bigger stick. It certainly has little to do with the Liberals’ suggestion that it’s yet another move that indicates this is a government that puts students first. New MLA John Rustad’s suggestion that this move, at this time, was necessary to prevent ‘protracted labour action from impacting our children’ is disingenuous at best.
The laughable part is that someone in Victoria might have thought that this legislated contract extension would change anything for the teachers. And surely the Liberals could not have dreamed that just because the teachers are now, technically with contract, that public opinion would somehow swing in the government’s favour.
This will surely not be the case.
They’ve done what’s tantamount to poking a caged animal with a stick. And in doing so have further enraged a group that has demonstrated over years that they can be militant and will flout legislation. So how does that do any good for children stuck in the middle? They must be getting a little tired of both parties saying students come first, then acting in a manner that suggests the opposite.
Hopefully someone in the Liberal ranks of the legislature can explain how these hardball tactics will bring this 12-year-long mess to a satisfactory conclusion – explain how fighting a fire with gasoline results in anything less than a conflagration.