THE largest obstacle to resolving the government-teachers’ dispute is Premier Christy Clark’s determination to appeal a decision from January by the Supreme Court of British Columbia that found her administration’s Bill 22 was ‘unconstitutional,’ says Dan Brooks, Leader of the BC Conservative Party.
Brooks on Tuesday reiterated his call for Clark to immediately drop her legal appeal of the Bill 22 decision and instead begin ‘good faith’ negotiations with the province’s public-school teachers.
“Premier Clark, Education minister Peter Fassbender and other members of this government believe it is better to spend taxpayers’ dollars in courtrooms, instead of in our classrooms,” said Brooks.
“The fact is that Ms. Clark and her BC Liberals have a dismal litigation record, having lost twice on their ‘unconstitutional’ legislation that unlawfully stripped bargaining rights from teachers.
“It is long past time for Premier Clark to move on, accept the fact that her government lost two expensive court cases, and get back to negotiating a collective agreement that is fair both to taxpayers and teachers,” he said.
Brooks pointed out that B.C. taxpayers already were on the hook to pay $2 million in damages to the BCTF because of the Clark government’s refusal to negotiate in ‘good faith’ with public-school teachers.
“How much more taxpayers’ money is going to be mis-spent under Premier Clark if she continues her appeal?” Brooks asked.
Brooks also noted that the Clark government – instead of using in-house lawyers with the Ministry of Attorney General to fight the appeal – had retained an outside litigation attorney at exorbitant corporate rates.
“It has been said that if your case is weak, you should get the most expensive lawyer you can,” said Brooks.
“Premier Clark, rather than utilizing government lawyers already on the public payroll, has acknowledged that her appeal argument is so anaemic that she had to hire a legal ‘superstar’. This madness must come to an end – and the sooner the better to get B.C. children back in school.”