Sask. Teachers' Federation says president lying to media

In a statement, the Saskatchewan Teachers Federation (STF) said its president is lying to the media about when and how he learned he would be suspended. Colin Keess was stripped of his duties and responsibilities as president after a non-confidence motion.

The STF sent out a statement Monday afternoon saying Colin Keess knew about his suspension weeks in advance.

Colin Keess spoke to media this afternoon. (Peter Mills/CBC)

The Saskatchewan Teachers Federation (STF) says its president is lying to the media about when and how he learned he would be suspended.
Colin Keess was stripped of his duties and responsibilities as president after a non-confidence motion.

Outside of the STF offices in Saskatoon Monday, Keess told media that he was shocked to find this out Friday and doesn't know why he's been suspended.

"I've had no explanation whatsoever although I've asked for it several times. I've had no explanation," said Keess.

STF releases statement

Late Monday afternoon, the STF sent out a statement saying it "feels that it must correct the inaccurate information that has been distributed by Colin Keess in his recent public statements."

The STF claims the executive passed a motion of non-confidence in Keess on June 19 that stems from recent conduct in his role as president. However, the organization won't say what that conduct was.

"We have executive policies that dictate our conduct and guide our contact as an executive and Mr Keess was found to be in violation of those policies," said Randy Cline, vice-president of STF.

The statement says Keess received a hand-delivered letter from STF on June 23 offering him options for resolving the issue. Instead, the statement says Keess hired a lawyer and the two sides met to discuss Keess options. However, the federation says on August 1, the members realized the matter was not being resolved so they passed another motion. This motion stripped Keess of his powers and authority, "because he was proposing to act in defiance of the decision made in good faith by the rest of the Executive."

Keess says he knew nothing of this motion until Friday, but the STF disagrees and says he has known for three weeks.

Keess says he believes the suspension is connected to a disciplinary matter dating back to the the mid-1990's when he was a teacher.
According to a Queen's Bench court document from Nov. 17, 1997, Keess went to court to challenge a decision of the STF professional ethics committee.

He was accused of violating the STF's code of ethics after engaging in excessive drinking and disorderly and inappropriate conduct while supervising high school students on a trip to France.

He was also accused of assaulting his wife, stealing alcohol from an Estevan bar in 1996 and causing a disturbance at the same bar on an earlier occasion.

But Kees says he has no criminal record and has recovered from the medical issues he was battling at the time.

In its statement, the STF also said Keess lied when he said the executive director of the teachers' federation is preventing him from carrying out his duties. It says the executive director is acting on behalf of the elected executive members' decisions.

Federation still in negotiations with province

Meanwhile, the teachers' federation is currently in negotiations with the government for a new contract.

In June 63 per cent of STF members voted against a tentative agreement that would have meant a 7.3 per cent salary increase over four years.

In the statement, the STF says it needs to focus its efforts on its organization and members.

"I want to emphasize that we will not have the interests of our profession sidelined by the inaccurate media comments of a single (e)xecutive member."

Keess says he has been invited to meet with STF executive members on Friday, but he hasn't decided if he will attend.

For now, Keess remains on paid leave.

With files from CBC's Steve Pasqualotto