Some things just need to be said...

Friday, August 05, 2005

The BCTF beats Campbell in Court

UPDATE August 5, 2005: "We will be asking the courts to grapple with that issue. It's a sensitive issue for parents and the school community. There is freedom of speech but the freedom of speech is not unlimited," Hugh Finlayson, CEO of the B.C. Public School Employers' Association told the Globe and Mail today. "It can be highly politicized, but there is a balance there."

Education Minister Shirley Bond said that parent-teacher interviews are opportunities for discussions about a student's progress and not about expression of views from teachers.

Jinny Sims, president of the BCTF, said the arbitrator and court ruling confirmed the right teachers have always had to make comments. "This will not change anything that happens in the classroom. We will still teach the same way. We feel as professionals and as citizens we have a right to make fair comment. They were trying to silence teachers from saying anything about any of the damage being done by public policy."

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Court says Teachers can be Political! August 4, 2005

see Vancouver Sun story here or here

The BC Court of Appeal has upheld an arbitrator’s decision that policy directives issued by various school boards during collective bargaining for renewal of teachers’ provincial collective agreement in 2001 violated s. 2(b) of the Charter. The majority (per Huddart J.A.) found the infringement was not justified under s. 1. The policy did not meet the minimal impairment test under Oakes. Lowry J.A would have allowed the appeal on the basis of s. 1.

The decision is a victory for teachers in BC. It clearly maintains teachers rights to provide and inform parents of their (teacher's) concerns with respect to the affects political decisions made have on the classroom and the education of children in that classroom. To limit this discussion as attempted by the employer and the BC Liberal Government was in fact a denial of both a teachers professional responsibility and a teachers (employee's) rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

I can only say again, the Charter has become the last stand for the defense of individuals in the face of autocratic government. The next big test with respect to the Charter and the rights of unions will come in the Supreme Court of Canada when they hear the case from Unions opposed to the Bill 29, a Bill that tore up essential articles bargained in freely neogotiated collective agreements, and further, prevented Unions and Employers from neogotiating freely some aspects to job security, namely the prevention and or rules to follow with respect to contracting out work.

The BC Liberals have to be smarting this one out.

In the court's majority decision...


Therefore, in my opinion, the absolute ban of discussion on school property during school hours did not minimally impair teachers' rights. Few places would be more appropriate for a discussion of the need for resources for public schools than a parent-teacher interview dedicated to one child's education.

The Supreme Court noted in Pepsi, "[f]ree expression in the labour context benefits not only individual workers and unions, but also society as a whole" (at para. 35). The same holds true for teachers. Their political expression benefits society as a whole even where the concerns arise out of a labour relations dispute.," Justice Carol Huddart, August 4, 2005


in the dessenting opinion...


"If teachers are permitted to use public schools as forums to advance particular political agendas, they will undermine an open and supportive education environment and, ultimately, that will detract from the fundamental objective of the school system," Justice Peter Lowry
And of course you just knew Lifesite would come out of the gates screaming over this decision...

“What hypocrisy! BC teachers can now politicize the classrooms but teacher Kris Kempling, who expressed his religious views on homosexuality in a letter to a local paper and not even in the classroom, is persecuted mercilessly.” Steve Jalsevac, Managing Director of LifeSiteNews.com


Find the BC Court of Appeal's written judgement here...

2005 BCCA 393 British Columbia Public School Employers' Association v. British Columbia Teachers' Federation

The court upheld an arbitrator’s decision that policy directives issued by various school boards during collective bargaining for renewal of teachers’ provincial collective agreement in 2001 violated s. 2(b) of the Charter. The majority (per Huddart J.A.) found the infringement was not justified under s. 1. The policy did not meet the minimal impairment test under Oakes. Lowry J.A would have allowed the appeal on the basis of s. 1.


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