Why Christy Clark wants to be seen as a saviour of education

These days, Premier Christy Clark won't shut up about education.

She's just raised the prospect of a 10-year deal with teachers, linking future wage increases to raises for civil servants.

Earlier this week, the premier announced up to $113 million in funding for a new Emily Carr University of Art + Design campus on False Creek Flats.

And last month, she visited Kwantlen Polytechnic University to speak about $12 million in B.C. government funding for the Chip and Shannon Wilson School of Design.

It's reminiscent of the lead-up to the 2001 election when a former B.C. Liberal leader, Gordon Campbell, also positioned himself as an education keener.

Back then, Campbell appeared in TV ads in front of school yards. He promised parents that education would be declared an essential service under the Labour Relations Code.

After that campaign, Campbell and his education minister—none other than Christy Clark—ripped up contracts with teachers. This was eventually ruled unconstitutional in court.

As a result of cancellation of collective agreements, the B.C. Liberal government siphoned $3.36 billion out of the school system over the next decade, according to the B.C. Teachers' Federation.

The government's own estimate was that $275 million would be saved each year by this move.

In light of this, it takes a lot of chutzpah for Clark to present herself as the education premier.

What she's put into the system recently is chump change compared to what she took out in the B.C. Liberal government's first term of office.

Why would Clark make a big deal out of education?

It's for the same reason that Campbell portrayed himself as an education saviour in 2001.

This issue is vitally important to many voters without strong attachments to either the NDP or the B.C. Liberals.

Elections in B.C. can be determined by three broad groups of voters: the so-called suburban soccer moms, new Canadians, and the young.

They all have a tendency to be less attached to political parties than other groups, plus they tend to make up their minds closer to voting day.

It's been widely reported that Clark has had a wretched time attracting female voters to the B.C. Liberal camp. Education resonates with many of them.

Education is also extremely important to new Canadians. A large number of them come from countries where schooling is held in extremely high regard.

Young voters are also more focused on education. NDP Leader Adrian Dix has reached out to them by promising to restore postsecondary student grants.

According to a recent Angus Reid Public Opinion poll, the largest number of respondents (34 percent) concluded that Dix is the leader "best suited" to deal with education.

Clark lagged far behind at 19 percent. But another 32 percent were "not sure". This explains the premier's recent attempt to present herself as a messiah on this issue.

Just don't assume that the premier won't do something radical after the election if she manages a come-from-behind victory in May.

She's already torn up contracts, so there's no telling what she might have up her sleeve in the future to offset the impact of B.C. Liberal government tax cuts.

Comments (13) Add New Comment
cHriSTy
Question is, will BC voters fall for the BC Liberals bag of tricks once again?
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laluna
Bah! Poser!! I just found out that in order to register my little one for kindergarten (French Immersion) for this September, I will have to camp out the night before the registration day. This is ridiculous!!!!!! Fix it Christy!!
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Take a wild guess...
Tearing up of contracts won't even "be on the radar" before the election..
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BC Freeze Enterprise Party
cHriSTy

That's the great question. Will the electorate go back to their Morpheus like slumber, or has the sleeping giant finally been awakened and not to be fooled again to the vast looting of everything not nailed down by foreign and domestic banksters and corporations. In it's wake, the BC Fiberals have left vast debts and child poverty, in a cesspool of incompetence and corruption.

Perhaps that depends on the NDP too. Will they campaign like a junior softball team on a little league tour like Carol James? Or will they attack, expose and hammer the BC Liberals on their dismal economic and political record like a pack of junkyard pit bulls?
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Hazlit
Start by paying sessionals like professionals. Till then, I'm not listening.
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Wayne
Everything is important to Christy these days. An election is near.
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Leon
Saving 25,000 film industry and other related jobs are not important to her... She has gone on record saying this.
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SR
To date I did not know Chrisy was the education minister way back then...and I did not know she at that time ripped up contracts with teachers. How can anyone trust her with her proposal to the teachers....and she is the Premier of this Province. I truly hope that the people of this province are not going to be fooled by this at the polls. I have decided not to vote Liberals....and Im many other are doing the same
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judi sommer
@ SR
Glad you read the article and can now spread the word. By the time Cristy et al finished with our class size and composition language, the contract looked like swiss cheese. The public was supposed to be happy that these were issues safely in the hands of the governing party. The education round table was a sham-window dressing created to look as if all stake-holders could play nice and make wise decisions. Christy so loved and respected teachers, she did that to us-and the kids in our care. The system has not recocovered and she has the gall to present herself as savior-Ms Families First! So much out there to remind voters of in the short lead-up to the election. It's been a lousy week for our invisible premier as 4 big stories have blown up in her face.
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Island Reader
Every single thing CC has done since being appointed Premier has been for what she feels will contribute to her being actually elected next May. She has not governed nor has she done anything just for the benefit of the province. I'm not certain the NDP is the answer, but I for one will be ecstatic to see both her and that despicable bully, and Deputy Premier Rich Coleman on their way out the door. Six provinces now with female premiers, I sure hope the other five aren't as dozy as the one we got.
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mountain miner
Both my kids have finally escaped the B.S. of the B.C. public school system. And yet my wallet aches.
Gordo & Christy raped the funding back when my kids were in primary school. Can you spell Olympics. Now, can you spell Bollywood. At least I can collect, dry and burn for warmth that, that falls from the butt of a bull. However, the B.C.T.F. have'nt earned my love much either.
When I've passed through the parking lot Of my local H.S and viewed a nice collection of (I've made it automobiles) ie lexus, beemer, ect,it kind of rubs me. Now, that might sound like grapes, but the point is, either you don't need the raise cause you're doing alright, or like the gov't, you could use a taxpayer instructed course in economics. Both sides need to feel that old time hickory pointer.
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CW
Gee, MM, you must be looking at the students' parking lot. All the teachers' vehicles at my high school are pretty "middle of the road", especially if the teacher has children. Indeed, at all the schools I've taught at, the money in the student lot is always a source of grim humour.
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janis anderson
what has really killed bc public education is that the funding is unpredictable. Declining enrollment meant that SDs got less $ to plan for future needs. Now enrollment has stabilized and were expected some stable funding but MOE simply tweaked the per student discretionary funding for our district and we have another year of cutbacks. Unbelievably, we are closing more schools. What is the plan? Our district is ready to implode.
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