British Columbia

B.C. teachers' dispute: Clark expects case will go to Supreme Court

B.C. Premier Christy Clark says she believes the court case over teachers' rights to bargain class size and composition will go to the Supreme Court of Canada.

B.C. premier predicts government will win, but teachers' federation will appeal the decision

B.C. Premier Christy Clark and Education Minister Peter Fassbender address the tentative agreement with the B.C. Teachers' Federation in Vancouver, Tuesday, Sept.16, 2014 (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

A negotiated deal may have ended B.C. teachers' months-long labour dispute, but Premier Christy Clark says she believes the court case over their right to bargain class size and composition will go to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Clark made the comments during her first CBC interview since the resumption of school, with Rick Cluff on The Early Edition.

Clark also defended her actions during the heated dispute.

Here are some excerpts of that interview:

RICK CLUFF: You did insert yourself into the debate before that meeting [with BCTF President Jim Iker], when you tweeted these two statements:

Why did you choose that moment as a way of entering what had been to that point a fairly heated stalemate?

CHRISTY CLARK: I felt it was important that the public — taxpayers, parents — understood what was going on in the negotiations. I didn't really feel like that was getting out there in the media.

The thing was, ultimately, when we settled with the teachers' union, we settled for the same kind of agreement that we got, at a similar price, with all the other public sector employees. That was really important. …

I have a job in representing [B.C. Teachers' Federation] members, students in schools, and every taxpayer in British Columbia, making sure we continue to afford all the wage settlements that we make.

RC: Some of the information that came from you and your office was not entirely correct. There was this news conference where you described the teachers proposal this way:

"The teachers' union needs to come to the table with a proposal that's realistic. I mean, for heaven's sake, 150,000 other public sector employees who work just as hard have settled for far less. They didn't get a $5,000 signing bonus. They didn't get unlimited massage. They didn't get an extra day off every year." 

Where did that line "unlimited massage" come from?

CC: There was lots of stuff that went back and forth in the negotiation. Some things went on the table. Some things got talked about coming off the table never actually came off the table. There was a lot of debate about what those elements were. 

RC: If the BCTF does win [the class size and composition court case], will you accept that, or will you take it all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada?

CC: I think that if the government wins, and I'm pretty confident that the government's going to win this case, the teachers' union is going to take it to the Supreme Court of Canada. That's probably where it will end up. There are big constitutional issues involved in this case, so it is probably where it should end up.


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