At a rally on the lawn of the Vancouver school board last year, B.C. NDP leader John Horgan made a firm promise.
Horgan pledged to reinstall school trustees who were fired by the B.C. Liberal government, if his party forms government in the provincial election this year.
“We’ll do it come May 2017,” Horgan declared at the October 20, 2016 rally.
That was three days after Education Minister Mike Bernier sacked the nine elected trustees for failing as a board to pass a balanced budget required by law.
Standing behind Horgan when he gave his word were B.C. NDP Vancouver-area MLAs Shane Simpson, Mable Elmore, Melanie Mark, George Heyman, and Adrian Dix.
The May 9 election is eight weeks or so away.
One thing that may not be expected if New Democrats assume power is that they will reinstate the dismissed trustees of the Vancouver school board, as Horgan previously promised.
B.C. NDP education critic Rob Fleming and Vancouver-False Creek candidate Morgane Oger said in separate interviews that a New Democrat government will instead call a byelection.
“What has changed is that the Liberals have fired the board for a long period of time,” Fleming told the Straight by phone on March 8.
What Victoria-Swan Lake MLA was saying was that it has been a while since the nine elected trustees were canned on October 17, 2016.
“We had hoped that they would back down,” Fleming said, referring to the B.C. Liberal government.
According to Fleming, a B.C. NDP administration will call for a byelection in the Vancouver school district within 100 days after New Democrats take over the province.
For her part, Oger was one of the speakers at the October 20, 2016 rally on the grounds of the Vancouver school board.
The parent of two school children was at the time chair of the Vancouver District Parent Advisory Council. She was also then seeking to be nominated by the B.C. NDP as its candidate in Vancouver-False Creek.
Oger said that a new Vancouver school board will be formed through a special election under a B.C. NDP.
“We are calling for an immediate byelection, and we encourage the existing trustees to run again,” Oger told the Straight by phone on March 7.
Patti Bacchus was one of the nine trustees sacked by the province.
According to Bacchus, the former trustees would welcome a reappointment to the board.
“We were elected by the people of Vancouver to serve a four-year term,” Bacchus told the Straight by phone on March 7. “We were prevented from doing, completing our terms. I think we would all be happy to complete our elected terms.”
Elected in 2014, the former board members had a four-year term ending in 2018. They were replaced by former teacher and school superintendent Diane Turner, who was appointed by the province as official trustee.
Bacchus also recalled that B.C. NDP leader Horgan promised to reinstate the former board.
However, Bacchus is not against the idea of a byelection to form a new school board in Vancouver.
“If government is not going to put back the people who the people of Vancouver elected, then they should at least allow them to elect someone now to represent them,” Bacchus said.