Christy Clark should be ashamed for appealing the Teachers Union case

As both a parent and a lawyer, I am embarrassed by our governments decision to appeal the BC Supreme Court ruling of January 27 that said the province has grossly violated the bargaining rights of teachers and Canada’s constitution since 2002. Here is the Observer Magazine’s summary of the event:

“The ruling by Justice Susan Griffin means that the actions of education authorities since 2002 are now subject to review and appeal. The judge also awarded $2 million in damages to the BCTF.

Education Minister Peter Fassbender explained the government’s decision to appeal the ruling by saying, “In practical terms, the judgement is completely unaffordable for taxpayers.”

But UBC Professor of Law Joel Bakan writes in a Feb. 11 commentary in the Vancouver Sun: As a ground for appeal, this is a non-starter. The Supreme Court of Canada has consistently held that, as one of its early decisions states, “budgetary considerations cannot be used to justify a violation (of the Charter of Rights).” The point was reiterated by the Court in its 2007 case concerning health workers’ bargaining rights (in British Columbia). “Courts will continue to look with strong skepticism at attempts to justify infringements of Charter rights on the basis of budgetary constraints,” the Court said.

The ruling is not only a political embarrassment for the government, it  also deals a blow to its budgetary planning, which is heavily skewed to freezing or reducing spending on social services while boosting subsidies to the fossil fuel and other industries.

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