NDP MLAs take potshots at premier after judge ruled that government tried to provoke teachers strike


The B.C. NDP didn't take very long in this legislative session to put the government on the defensive.

A group of veteran MLAs took turns pounding the B.C. Liberals about B.C. Supreme Court Justice Susan Griffin's recent ruling that government officials didn't bargain in good faith with the B.C. Teachers' Federation.

"Their strategy was to put such pressure on the union that it would provoke a strike by the union," Griffin concluded in her decision. "The government representatives thought this would give government the opportunity to gain political support for imposing legislation on the union."

The government has appealed Griffin's decision, which awarded the BCTF $2 million in damages. 

NDP Leader Adrian Dix delivered the opening salvo, highlighting how the government's chief negotiator, Paul Straszak, acknowledged in court that his objective was to increase pressure on teachers so they would launch a full-scale strike.

Dix noted that Straszak also testified that he shared this information with the premier's deputy minister, John Dyble: "You need a social licence to legislate. It could be harder to obtain if there is a targeted strike versus a full-scale strike."

Next up, NDP MLA Rob Fleming mentioned that Straszak testified that he told cabinet: "Cabinet would be in an awkward situation in the context of a low-scale strike, meaning it's going to want to put an end to it, but the public won't necessarily see the need for the legislation because the kids are still in school."

Former NDP leader Carole James then asked about the extent of Premier Christy Clark's involvement in "a plan that included putting pressure on school districts to ensure compliance with her plan to ensure that a school strike would happen".

Another NDP veteran, Sue Hammell, came next.

"If this government is going to tell the Supreme Court it is wrong, will the premier at least release these documents so that British Columbians can judge for themselves whether the B.C. Liberal government was serving the public or themselves in their dealings with the children and schools in our province?" Hammell asked.

Then it was the NDP Bruce Ralston's turn to ask the government to release cabinet documents.

"The premier felt free, apparently, at a Liberal fundraiser last night to say that the judge got the facts wrong," the Surrey-Whalley MLA said, "but she won't order the release of the very documents that would either support or not support the opinion that she expresses so bravely before her Liberal fundraising colleagues."

Another NDP veteran, Norm Macdonald, asked why the government sent a letter to every B.C. teacher saying it disagreed with the ruling, which determined that the government had tried to provoke a strike.

In each instance, Attorney General Suzanne Anton stood up to say that an appeal has been filed, and that the record, in its entirety, will be heard and read by the B.C. Court of Appeal.

In the first question period in the legislature after a 200-day hiatus, the NDP clearly won the opening skirmish.

Comments (8) Add New Comment
Is it reincarnation Thursday in NDPland?
I'm sure glad a plethora of failed leaders won some inconsequential moral victories. Try winning an election next time. The simple fact is that NDP supporters are up in arms and the rest of the population could care less.The public has completely tuned out the BCTF / government wars. You can only scream the sky is failing so many times before people start ignoring you. I wonder when the Teachers will wise up and realize that their union is failing them due to their pissing match approach to anything. They would be far better off bringing in some real leaders instead of running the NDP farm team. Moral victories only count for so much in the face of real loses.
Rating: -40
Hi First Poster,

How is not understanding morality and politics. Just because we have hit an all-low in this country with our provincial and national majority parties does not mean that they are right. As a matter of fact, if the left united (like the right did), this would not be the case.

We (parents) have not tuned out of this problem at all. We recognize that the gov't has screwed us over to appease corporations that do nothing for us (except provide too few jobs at too little pay while they make too much money).

The BCTF is far from perfect, but they are fighting a fight that too few fight these days. And at the end of the day, your belief that a moral victory counts for too little is why the world is going to he!! in a hand basket.
Rating: +13
"Moral victories only count so much in the face of real losses". Wow. Perfectly pitched PR for the neo-Liberals, for whom a moral compass does not exist (let alone count for anything). The only thing that "counts" for the idiot ex-talk-show-host and her minions is the ability to lie with impunity about everything and anything (Clean Green LNG! That's a good one….) . It works some of the time. The rest of the time, it's a bit of a problem and can come back and bite you in the ass.
Rating: +6
We want a government t that will LEAD not deny and point fingers. It makes no difference who I voted for the Liberals are in office and seem determined to fight Ms. Clark's war from a decade ago WHY??
Get to work solving this and stop bickering!!
You promised us jobs go get rolling on that and shut that Anton woman up!!
Rating: -1
Sorry, it's not even a moral victory for the NDP anymore. Will Dix file a criminal complaint against himself now that it's come out that he released that information ILLEGALLY? Where's the moral indignation about using children and criminal behavior to score cheap political points? He can't even get the low hanging fruit.

The subsequent posts proved my point. You are clearly NDP supporters so YOU care, but no one else does. If the BCTF doesn't want to play political games they should stay out of politics. No matter what propaganda you regurgitate from the BCTF media handbook they don't act in the best interest of students. It's their fiduciary duty to act in their own best interest. They just use the children as pawns.
Rating: -1
Charlie Smith
Dear OP,

This information was not released illegally, as far as I can tell. My understanding is that NDP MLAs were quoting from a court transcript, which anyone can obtain.

The NDP MLAs were demanding release of the cabinet documents. If you read Justice Griffin's judgement, she noted that these "cabinet documents" did not involved deliberation of cabinet members. Rather, they were reports brought to cabinet by Mr. Straszak.

Charlie Smith
Rating: -8
"This information was not released illegally, as far as I can tell. My understanding is that NDP MLAs were quoting from a court transcript, which anyone can obtain."

The transcripts were transposed from a recording restricted under a court order. Thereby it's illegal to release those transcripts without approval from the court, which they did not get. (I'm not a lawyer but that's what I get from it - The Van Sun has the best explanation I've found) The judge could call for enforcement if one of the parties files a complaint.

I'm thinking the Liberals should go ahead with the complaint against the rat Dix like he did against them a few months ago The problem is that Dix is such a liability to the NDP they'll let him flail around in the wind for as long as he wants.

Criminal or not this typifies Dix's incompetence. It's time for him to go away and give us a break from his hypocritical pontifications.
Rating: +1
Pretty naive stuff here. As someone who's been doing labour negotiations for many years, guess what, if the bargaining mandate from your constituents is likely to result in a work stoppage, you make damn sure they are aware of that likelihood, the course bargaining will take and how to eventually close the deal. No doubt BCTF knew full well its agenda would provoke a confrontation. Both sides were well aware of where the dispute was headed. BCTF saw an opportunity to advance the Charter principles developed in BC Health and had nothing to lose given what it and most others in BC believed was to be certain NDP election win. BCTF tries to set education policy by at the bargaining table. Fine. BCTF tries to set education policy with work stoppages...NFW. The Courts decision was wrong in any event as Griffin misapplied the law. Moreover, at Dix so perfectly points out, the Court attempted to assess "good faith bargaining" which is the exclusive jurisdiction of the BC Labour Board. The good faith bargaining provisions are contained in the BC Labour Code and the BCLRB's jurisdiction on the matter is protected by a strong privative clause, all of which was written and passed by the NDP in 1973..likely lost on Dix.
Rating: -5
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