Cheryl Angst, Writer

Writer of strange tales – because no one ever accused me of being normal.

Post-Bill 22 Action Plan March 23, 2012

Filed under: Politics — Cheryl Angst @ 9:48 pm

Maybe I’m too soft when it comes to the notion of playing fairly, or maybe I’m upset because I abhor bullying in all its forms. Whatever the reason, I can’t stop thinking that there has to be something I can do; that there has to be some way to continue to advocate for my students’ learning conditions even though Bill 22 has passed.

I believe in our youth, I believe in public education, and I believe in democracy. I am convinced this new law does nothing to truly support any of those things. I know the learning conditions in my classroom will not be improved when I return to work on Monday. They won’t improve until districts receive adequate funding and the protections for students are brought back to the bargaining table. But Bill 22 makes it clear that that just isn’t going to happen despite a Supreme Court ruling requiring the government to do so.

What can one person do when a group is so powerful they don’t even have to follow the rule of law?

That’s a tough question.

I know the BCTF came up with an action plan at the recent AGM, but that’s the union’s plan. I want to do something meaningful on a more personal level.

I’m angry.

I’m hurt.

I’m tired of being pushed around by a government that does not seem to represent anything I value, and has publicly expressed its disdain for the services I provide.

I am proud of the BCTF for launching a lawsuit to challenge the constitutionality of Bill 22. The union fought the government on Bills 27 and 28 for over a decade, and I’m confident the BCTF will do the same with Bill 22 if need be. (I don’t want to imagine what the public education system will look like if it takes another ten years to get more unconstitutional legislation off the books though. )

But while this legal battle is all well and good, I want to do something more; something that shows I believe in both public education and democracy – and, just like the BCTF’s legal challenge, my plan must reside within the bounds of the law.

Bill 22 makes it impossible for the BCTF to engage in any sort of legal job action, and any illegal acts will result in significant fines. I, however, am an individual citizen of this province and I have the same right to speak out against the government as any other citizen.

It is this realization that led me to do a little research.

As a registered voter in BC, I can stand up and act for change in more ways than simply voting every four years. In BC there is something called the Recall and Initiative Act (http://www.elections.bc.ca/index.php/referenda-recall-initiative/). Through this act, citizens have the opportunity to express their voice on issues they’re passionate about between elections by either petitioning to have an MLA removed from office or by petitioning to have a current bill scrapped or amended.

Organizations and groups are not permitted to exercise these options. Only individuals may do so.

All it takes is one person to speak out and say, “No, this isn’t right.”

I am one person.

Bill 22 isn’t right.

Here’s what I’d like to do to show the government I am serious about defending public education:

1)      Put forward an initiative that calls for Bill 22 to be repealed (or at least amended).

2)      Submit applications for recall in each riding where the MLA voted in favour of Bill 22.*

*I can’t submit an application for recall in a riding I don’t live in, but I’d like to hope there will be other individuals willing to stand with me in those regions.  (I—and anyone else—can, however, register to volunteer as a canvasser in as many ridings as I wish in order to help out those who take the lead in those locales…)

Now, I can hear some of you laughing. You’re thinking I’m crazy, that I can’t possibly believe either of these tactics would succeed.

You’re probably right.

I am no Bill Vander Zalm, and I know my profession is despised by some members of the public as passionately as the HST. Plus, I think it’s darned near impossible to collect 40% of registered voters’ signatures in only 60 days to successfully have an MLA recalled, and even less possible to get close to 300,000 (10%) signatures from across the entire province in 90 days to force a new bill onto the table. To say my plan would be an uphill battle would be a gross understatement.

But then again, if a battle is worth fighting, the odds don’t matter. Besides, you’re guaranteed to lose if you don’t try.

I have to do something.

All it takes is one person.

One person to propose a new bill.

One person per riding to fill out a simple form.

I know it’s not simple once the paperwork is completed. Heck, it would be incredibly difficult. Over 6,700 people volunteered to help canvass for signatures when Mr. Vander Zalm put forth his initiative. But, you know what? I believe there are many, many people out there who feel Bill 22 is wrong; that under-funding public education is wrong; that ignoring a Supreme Court ruling is not only wrong, but illegal. And I believe these people are willing to “walk the talk” if given the opportunity. These people—individuals all—have the power to make a difference.

Or, at the very least, make the government take notice.

Imagine the reaction if recall applications for close to 50 ridings went in simultaneously! I cannot think of a stronger—legal—expression of dissatisfaction with the actions of the current government.

It’s entirely possible none of the petitions would succeed, but their existence alone would send a very loud message to the government about listening to the people it purports to represent.

As much as I might wish to, I cannot force the government to repeal Bill 22 and do what’s right for students. However, I don’t have to sit back and take it either.

There is still more I personally can do.

I’m terrified, but I’m willing to try.

C.

 

References:

http://www.elections.bc.ca/index.php/referenda-recall-initiative/recall/

http://www.elections.bc.ca/index.php/referenda-recall-initiative/initiative/

 

Note:

In order for any recall campaign to have the best chance of being successful, it is essential that only one application per riding be submitted as the signatures from one petition cannot be counted toward any others.

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14 Responses to “Post-Bill 22 Action Plan”

  1. chris Says:

    The teachers should all hand in there notice of resigation at the same time , where would they find replacements and who would apply! tough stance to take but the government would certainly take notice. they couldnt replace that many teachers . schools would be closed , they cant fine people that dont work for them!

  2. Neovi Patsicakis Says:

    Ok girl, let’s try and do it. There is a man who helped Bill V. I have to find out his name.

  3. Patick James Dion Says:

    Ok, Sign me up. How do I help? Can I get signatures to repeal the bill?

    My MLA voted against the bill so I won’t be starting a recall campaign.

  4. Gill Picard Says:

    Cheryl,

    I heard your interview with Bill Good and I’m not ashamed to tell you that you brought an old man extremely close to tears, for the kids and for a person who cares for the kids as much as I do and her total frustration. I am commenting here in the hope of showing you a different path.

    But first, I have to tell you what I know about recall and initiative referenda. As the act is written in B.C., it is an unbelievably difficult task to accomplish. I am not trying to discourage you but you should remember a few things which made the H.S.T. referendum a success; 1)There were two political parties involved in promoting this, one of which can mobilize a sizeable army of volunteers just by asking. 2)The whole thing was led by a well known personality who was really motivated by a secret personal vendetta against Campbell (Vander Zalm). 3)And the biggest motivator, people were being hit in the wallet.

    Other than the nearly impossible requirements of the “Act”, there are a few other things working against you. Some of the people (by no means all) have no sympathy at all for the teachers and their plight, plus, many more people absolutely despise the BCTF. Don’t feel bad, I’m sure you know that they despise the government even worse.

    I can tell you all this because I am a pensioner who does nothing but study provincial and federal politics everyday – I listen to as many commentators as I can and I read everything I can get my hands on. I have also been heavily involved in backroom politics and have had many battles with Vander Zalm and a few of his cohorts.

    Next, I give you a clue where I’m going with this, I don’t like to write all this without suggesting a real solution. When the “Occupy Movement” was prominent in the news, I couldn’t believe the stupidity of it all, I can really understand their gripes and I share many of them but I couldn’t understand how they could just sit there and do nothing about it except protest. That will rarely accomplish anything. I suggested to some of them (and this fell of deaf ears) that they get active and take over a political party, change it the way they want it and position themselves where they can influence the course of the province.

    I would like to suggest to you that the teachers, minus the perpetually combative Ms.Lambert, shed the BCTF and take over one of the small parties. You could really get the majority of voters’ support by offering the people of BC positive control over their government. There are two parties that I know of, which could be relatively easy to take over and by offering a better platform than tweedle-dum or tweedle-de, could re-interest the BC voters in controlling their province. You already have all the people you need with a very strong motive to fight. You could also look at other parties or form your own. At last count, there were 28 idle political parties in B.C.

    good luck

    Gill Picard

  5. mmechiasson Says:

    You are so right to stand up for what you believe in. You may be only one person but there are many who share your opinion and would be proud to stand with you.

  6. mmechiasson Says:

    Reblogged this on Mme Chiasson and commented:
    This is a blog post by a teacher in BC who wants to stand up for what she believes in.

  7. bhailstone Says:

    Reblogged this on Bhailstone's Blog and commented:
    This is inspirational!

  8. Kiel Lemmen Says:

    Count me in Cheryl – as a teacher, a human being, and a Yuen’s alumni (once a Yuen, always a Yuen), I can’t sit idly by and just watch. A coordinated effort is key, where and how can I be of help?

  9. Hi,
    I started a new group on the Facebook – based on your ideas – lets see if we can do it :) Kill Bill 22 – recall BC neo-libs MLA
    http://www.facebook.com/groups/215928978514196/

  10. Craig Says:

    As a former teacher, it is so painful that those who are not in the classroom have so much power over what educators “have” to do. Yes, I realize many times they have good intentions, and yes, there should be guidelines for teachers to follow to ensure students are on track, but teachers need space to use their individual creativity too.

  11. Craig Uedale Says:

    I was looking into book publishing, then I came across a blog of yours, then I came across this website. Interesting how one thing leads to another.

    A quick comment. You’re going WAY to far with your dramatic response to Bill 22. Goodness knows, the Liberal government has its flaws but most people grudgingly agree that a) we need to keep public sector entitlements in line, otherwise there won’t be any sort of a future for our kids , b) there needs to be more management and measurable accountability in the school system (as with everything else that gets public money).

    There are right ways and wrong ways to go about this and I’d have to agree that the methodologies of the Liberal Government too often fall into the ‘wrong way’ category (probably including the way they introduced Bill 22). But, as Gill Picard above alludes to, you need to be proposing practical alternative management systems. Save the drama for your mama! (And Mr. Picard is right – step away from the BCTF. They’re fighting to preserve what’s worst about the teaching profession not what’s best. You’re better than that.)


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