IS B.C. LABOUR HEADED FOR FULL CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE?

The British Columbia Teachers Federation is now well into its second week of an illegal strike after walking off of the job on Oct. 7, 2005. While I have read editorials regarding both sides, I must say that the entire idea of civil disobedience actually taking root in Canada may be exactly what is needed. I don’t know all of the issues in this dispute, nor will I profess to. I do, however, understand the basics.

When a government uses legislation to remove fundamental rights, such as collective bargaining, then Canadians of all stripes must stand up to resist. While I am in no way pro-union, I am not anti-union, either. I believe that they are sometimes too unyielding, but I believe in the current political climate, they are an absolute necessity. Government is reaching into our lives, and we must unite under some form to resist. Canadians for the most part have never known how to do this.

The teachers in British Columbia are the only teachers in the country to be deemed an essential service. This is absurd. We are turning into a state that considers monetary issues as life giving. While an educated person is certainly more useful and productive than one whom is uneducated, I think you would be hard pressed to show me how not going to school for a few weeks would be life threatening. If anything, our kids would be better off. The fact is, however, that the teachers were deemed as essential for one purpose and one purpose only; to deny them and their association the opportunity and the right to bargain a collective agreement.

I have heard many state that the teachers are well paid. Of course they are. No one is disputing that. That fact does not change the basic premise of their freedom to bargain. While we are on the topic of being well paid, consider the fact that their salaries are to be frozen for the next three years, all the while energy prices are rising, and the cost of living is starting to climb. Add into that mix the fact that the politicians in British Columbia have not done the same to their salaries. Having said all of that, the wage issue is not the whole story.

I know that my standard of living has never been phenomenal. It has been slipping incrementally over the last 15 years, and there is not much I can do about it. Perhaps that wouldn’t bother me if I knew that there was a noble reason for it, such as lowering our overall indebtedness, so that my children will not go through the burden of high taxation that our generation has endured. But with that sacrifice comes leadership and example, and I cannot recall ever seeing a provincial legislator endure the same hardships that they insist, in fact legislate, the men and women who produce all that the government loves to consume, that being revenues.

Our politicians have become arrogant, with some, such as our current federal government, believing that dictating our standards is their birthright, and not a privilege. Our voices and our desires are being ignored, and our society is being reshaped against the wishes of a majority. Corruption is rank in Ottawa, with the same liberal politics that is exacerbating the situation in British Columbia. For years I have found the Liberals to be demoralizing to Canadians, but perhaps they will be the catalyst to unite Canadians to finally allow us to say “No More.”

I often get fed up with politics, and the men and women who see fit to dictate to us the standard of life that we will have. I have bemoaned many times that Canadians never see a way to do something in harmony, something that would truly send a message that will demand a hearing. I see a new trend beginning in British Columbia. With solidarity comes the opportunity to demand to be heard, and without it, we are just cattle.

While some refer to the illegal strike as chaotic, I see a bit of hope in it.