Letters: Christy Clark’s vendetta to destroy the Teachers’ Federation

Maclean’s readers write in

Chad Hipolito/CP

Chad Hipolito/CP

Christy Clark vs. teachers

The B.C. government’s tactic of paying some parents for every day their children are not at school, should the teachers’ strike continue, may be revolutionary, as claimed (The Editorial, Aug. 18)—but helpful? Perhaps not so much. The $40 per day for each child under the age of 13 won’t be paid until after the strike has ended. How many low- and middle-income families will be able to afford $200 (or more) per week up front to pay for daycare or tutoring? The B.C. government is continually bemoaning the projected shortage of qualified workers in all manner of fields. It might behoove them to work at getting teachers and students back in the classroom, so students can get the education they need, rather than play politics at $40 a day.

Barbara Roden, Ashcroft, B.C.

Your editorial writer believes, erroneously, that the B.C. government’s offer of $40 a day to parents to help defray child care costs or hire tutors is “revolutionary.” But the exact same “revolutionary” tactic was employed by Ontario premier Mike Harris at the end of the two-week strike by that province’s teachers in 1997. It might have worked in his favour: He was re-elected to a second term.

Pamela Seaton McLean, Sarnia, Ont.

Because teachers care deeply about the kind of education the children in their care are getting, they have sacrificed pay and well-being to go on strike for what they believe in. There is no strike pay. Many of them worry whether they’ll have a job to return to. Many teachers go year by year to see whether their contracts will be renewed. Who better to judge what children need than those on the front lines?

Diana Stevan, Campbell River, B.C.

Maclean’s frames the current bargaining impasse between B.C.’s teachers and the B.C. government as a “perpetual clash over salaries and education funding.” During the most recent round of bargaining, the B.C. Liberals have tabled more cuts to services, including a refusal to address the student-to-educator ratio in B.C., currently the worst in Canada. Similarly, there’s been a refusal to address operating grants per student—currently the lowest in Canada. They’ve denied the impacts of cuts to learning specialists. Left unmentioned in the editorial is the fact that before the teachers escalated their job action, teachers struggled to broker an agreement for more than a year before the B.C. Liberals locked them out and cut their pay by 10 per cent. Then, under direction of the Labour Relations Board of B.C., teachers were “directed” to be off site 45 minutes before and after school, and were “directed” to avoid using any school facilities and to avoid helping students during lunch and breaks. It takes a special genius to view the current bargaining impasse in B.C. as one in which teachers are inordinately advantaged.

Tobey Steeves, public school teacher, Vancouver

Premier Christy Clark is on a personal vendetta to destroy the B.C. Teachers’ Federation, because they stood up to her when she attempted to impose a new “college” of teachers without teacher representation when she was the education minister in Gordon Campbell’s government. This latest strategy, paying parents while their children miss school, is nothing more than an attempt to sway public opinion. That money could have been used to improve conditions in all the public schools in the province, but the B.C. government has no interest in making the system better.

Penelope Kelly, Surrey, B.C.

Mount Polley was no accident

The failure of the dam at the Imperial Metals tailings pond at Mount Polley, B.C., was not an “accident,” as you described it under Bad News (This Week, Aug. 18). On more than one occasion, B.C.’s Ministry of the Environment had warned Imperial Metals that the water in the pond was too high: the last time was in May 2014. Yes, we need to wait for the results of the investigation into what caused the dam failure, but there were clearly warning signs that were ignored by either the company or the regulator. An accident is something unforeseen. This wasn’t.

Anne Zimmerman, Tottenham, Ont.

Giving those boys guns

I disagree with historian Cynthia Comacchio (“Could we do it again?” National, Aug. 11) that the support by Canadians for the Great War was helped by militia training for young boys: “Since 1909, schoolboys had been receiving regular militia training . . . including rifle firing.” This training may or may not have been that important. In my high school in Sarnia, Ont., in the 1960s, there was compulsory, weekly military training for all Grade 10 boys in the form of the cadet program—and they managed to turn out an entire generation of boys who were as anti-war as any today.

Colin Hignett, Woodstock, Ont.

My grandfather, Charlie Chivers, taught me the greatest lesson of war (“Lessons of war,” National, Aug. 11). When the First World War was declared, he refused to go to France—not out of cowardice, but rather the unshakable conviction that war was simply another opportunity for the rich to grow richer, while the common people paid the price. Charlie stated, “If you make up a battalion of all the politicians in Ottawa, then I will personally lead them into the trenches.” No one ever took him up on his offer.

Mike Ward, Duncan, B.C.

More than six times the Lyme

The current Lyme disease testing system in Canada dwells in the dark ages, and is an inherent failure (“Letting the bugs bite,” National, Aug. 18). Research by Lyme Ontario finds that at least 13 species of ticks are carrying the Lyme disease bacterium, Borrelia burgdorferi, Canada-wide, not two species, as claimed by the feds, who purport that the current two-tier Lyme disease serology is a “validated test.” I tested negative by this flawed system, but have definitive proof that I have Lyme disease. The serology criteria were originally determined to develop a vaccine, and were not developed for diagnostic accuracy. The current health care system in Canada for Lyme disease is a sham, and has become a health care calamity.

John D. Scott, research scientist, Lyme Ontario, Fergus, Ont.

I don’t understand why diagnosing and treating Lyme disease is so difficult. I live in an area with lots of ticks. Three years ago, my dog was lethargic. The next day, we took her to the vet, who did a blood test for Lyme. Ten minutes later, we had confirmation of Lyme disease. Antibiotics for four weeks, and she’s good as new. If I think I’ve been bitten by a deer tick, I will be visiting my vet!

Anni Markmann, Ste-Anne, Man.

Get out of the garage

House design plays a role in “The end of neighbours” (Society, Aug. 18). Many people open their garage doors upon entering the cul de sac, drive in and are not seen again until they drive out. I live on a cul de sac of 23 houses. I know about four households. A few years ago, at one of those four, I assumed that the people who were carrying out TVs and computers knew the people who lived there. It was only later, when police were called, did I realize I’d witnessed a robbery.

Eva Eaton, Calgary

People do not know their neighbours. I am so glad I live in Newfoundland. When I visit Canada, I say hi to people in an elevator and they all back into the wall and avert their eyes. When you say hi to people here, you had better have a cup of tea with you, because you are in for a yarn. This is perhaps the last best place on Earth.

Doug Bird, Holyrood, N.L.

Federalism, Russian-style

I am a Russian from Kharkov, a Russian part of Ukraine, where we all speak Russian. I lived half my life in the Soviet time. We studied Ukrainian, grammar and literature. We loved Ukrainian songs. Without any “Russian propaganda,” I would tell you that if I lived still in Ukraine, I would not want to live under the current Ukrainian government. You are saying that Russia annexed Crimea (“Getting away with murder,” International, Aug. 11). Crimea was given to Russia on a golden plate, and Putin simply took it. People in the eastern part of Ukraine—“separatists” and “terrorists,” as you call them—when they declared a republic, they did not demand to be included in Russia; they wanted federalism. We have a federal structure in Canada, haven’t we? For us, it is a game of power and influence. But for many people in Ukraine, it is a disaster.

Tamara Bukhanov, Toronto

Trading places

The Prime Minister is counting on being re-elected next year with the promise of finally signing the EU Trade Agreement (“Getting a lot closer,” National, Aug. 18). Since all members of the European Union will not sign it until sometime in 2016, all the PM has to do is keep Canadians’ hopes up. If re-elected, and the pact is never signed, he will still have four more years to run Canada. Meanwhile, no Canadian government has achieved a free trade agreement between all our provinces and territories. No mention is made that the United States is also negotiating with the European Union. It is 10 times the size of Canada in market potential and productivity capacity. Are we not unduly optimistic?

Dorothy Madge, Windsor, Ont.

Wait, don’t renovate

“The renovation trap” (Economy, Aug. 11) confirmed what a dinosaur I am to live in my 83-year-old house with its hardwood floors, oak trim and original solid-wood kitchen cabinetry. (Keep anything long enough and it will come back in vogue.) I doubt that costly renos will actually enhance the value of any house, as those who buy will always want to yank out everything to install the most up-to-date trendy features shown on HGTV programs.

Barbara J. Fisher, Winnipeg

A cheating heart

If a Canadian Forces member can lose half his pension for divorcing a spouse, as I have, I think it’s only right and proper that Russell Williams (“The killer and his pension,” National, Aug. 18) should lose all of his pension for murdering one of his subordinates.

Bob Larocque, Carrying Place, Ont.

The sun set on West

Jaime J. Weinman writes that “Florida Rep. Allen West called for [Barack Obama’s] impeachment” (“Litigious lawmakers,” International, Aug. 18). West lost his race for re-election to Congress in 2012. He is not currently serving in office.

Frank Ninivaggi, Bronxville, N.Y.

The failure of the dam at the Imperial Metals tailings pond at Mount Polley, B.C., was not an “accident,” as you described it under Bad News (This Week, Aug. 18). On more than one occasion, B.C.’s Ministry of the Environment had warned Imperial Metals that the water in the pond was too high: the last time was in May 2014. Yes, we need to wait for the results of the investigation into what caused the dam failure, but there were clearly warning signs that were ignored by either the company or the regulator. An accident is something unforeseen. This wasn’t.

Anne Zimmerman, Tottenham, Ont.




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