With any campaign or cause there are always leaders and followers. It is rare that the two have the same motivations for joining together with the other. In fact, in politics it is rare that any 2 voters have exactly the same reasons for voting for a particular party!
My friends who are teachers support the strike for the best reasons: they want a better work environment for themselves which will directly improve the amount of time and quality of education that their students will receive. For this I commend them. I don't support their engagement in breaking the law but I do commend them for their altruistic reasons in doing so.
It was revealed today, however, that the motivations of the BCTF leadership and the relatively small number of ultra-militant teachers has nothing to do with the kids and never did. What this is really all about for them is a refight of the last provincial election. The BCTF leaders, other union leaders, and their ultra-militant supporters fought like hell to defeat the current government. They lost and the government won. While all reasonable people accepted the democratic will of the people, these folks did not.
And so they bided their time, looking for an opportunity to seek revenge. They saw it in this dispute. Like good generals they cleverly wrapped it up with award winning rhetoric about the fight being "all about the students". For teachers like my friends this was very appealing. If I were in their shoes I might very well have signed on too.
But what the BCTF couldn't have expected was the ruling from Madam Justice Brown. As I said previously, this was most surely a great olive branch extended to the union. It would have been for any reasonable people. But the BCTF leadership has never been reasonable, not with this government, not with the previous NDP government, not with any government. They've chosen to ignore her ruling, already violating it by using their website to continue supporting the illegal strike. Plans are now in place for a general walkout of all public sector workers in Victoria on Monday, with a province wide general strike surely to follow after that.
Taking a step back for a moment, it's hard to believe this is happening in Canada; reasonable, law-abiding Canada. There is no mistaking that this group is advocating loud & clear that they don't respect the government of B.C., the democratic voice of the people of B.C., nor even the Supreme Court of B.C.
This all makes me think of several things:
- Sympathy must go out to the politically moderate teachers who now realize that they've been used as pawns.
- How large is the group of undemocratic, militant teachers that are teaching our children?
- If things escalate and some of the more militant teachers are arrested, charged, and convicted, should they be allowed to ever teach again?
- Several other unfortunate periods in human history were precipitated by similar small groups of people taking the law into their own hands, turning a democracy into something very different.
- Is there not a striking similarity in the psyche of fundamentalist religious zealots and the relatively small group of hardcore militant unionists?