Redford Tories’ War with Teachers: It’s About Caucus Politics
The Progressive Conservatives are preparing for a multi-year battle with the teachers of Alberta. With rhetoric such as “protect the classroom” (implying that teachers are working against teaching and children) and firing off emails to thousands of teachers in likely breach of privacy laws (which is currently being investigated by the Privacy Commissioner), it’s obvious.
The Progressive Conservatives are at war with Alberta’s teachers. Because of caucus politics.
It isn’t about salary freezes or delaying pay increases. It isn’t even the budget. The Alberta Teachers Association has been more than compromising and has been trying to work with government (particularly on issues like capping work hours and how to handle supervising extra-curriculars), and Education Minister Jeff Johnson has responded with ultimatums. Now that the negotiations on teachers’ contracts has moved to the local school boards Minister Johnson has sent out an email telling school board trustees that the province wont budge from their position. And that “negotiations are over.”
The Progressive Conservatives are directly attempting to over rule local decision making by local school boards and elected representatives at those levels comply to their position. This fundamentally runs against local decision making and the tradition of local bargaining that has been done in Alberta since at least the 1940s (with the minor exception of the 2007 contract negotiations when all of the contracts ended at the same time).
It’s not about the budget or salaries for the Redford government, obviously.
It’s about politics.
According to Daveberta‘s insiders the strife is coming from the Conservative caucus. According to his sources the supporters of other leadership camps in the 2011 leadership race for the PCs were agitating against teachers, likely because of the role they were assumed to have played in getting Redford elected leader of the party. If an enterprising group of MLAs want to hurt their leader without causing harm to their party then a down and dirty fight against the teachers of Alberta would be a perfect way to cause that damage.
It would hurt Redford, allow for the old boys in the Conservatives to gain more power in caucus, and steer the province in the direction they want.
And the tool the Conservatives have chosen to use in this episode are the children of Alberta, the privacy and the profession of teachers, and the future of the province.
It’s a sad day for Alberta… but it’s politics as usual.