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Teacher Newsmagazine Volume 18, Number 1, September 2005

Readers write

Thanks for taking a stand

Thank you for your letter regarding the upcoming B.C. election.

As you can see by my address, I live in the middle of Europe, very far from a voting station. I would vote by mail if there was time and the possibility. I don’t think either can happen, as I never received any information from anybody on voting procedures for teacher members who now live in other countries, but are Canadian citizens.

However, I do appreciate your efforts and wish you all success. I have been following developments in the B.C. educational field for many years and find that Campbell’s ways are simply disgusting--no other adjectives are necessary.

How is it that in this century of technology, North America is blessed with idiots like George W. Bush, Gordon Campbell, and the inept Stephen Harper? To name just a few!

I am 82 years of age and have done my political bit to raise the status of teachers and education in B.C., at a time where there was less money than today, but a lot more honesty and awareness of what was what. We did surface, and now, we must not let it all slip away. Thank you for your energetic and aggressive fight. We will surface again. I am with you in spirit every inch of the way, and I wish I could be with you in an active way as well.

Anne Cecilia Matheson
Slovakia

BCTF lacks credibility when discussing the Middle East

I have often turned a blind eye when it came to BCTF political involvement in foreign affairs, but the increase in this activity by unions in general, and the BCTF specifically, needs some comment.

This situation was emphatically brought to my attention by a Jewish friend of mine who said, "Ken, have you heard some of the things that the BCTF has been saying about Israel lately?" When I indicated that I had heard them, he continued, "...and it doesn’t concern you?"

I muttered something to the effect that these are resolutions that are humanistic statements being made by the BCTF, and that such resolutions really don’t have much effect in reality. Nevertheless, my friend was convinced that these statements were part of a worldwide conspiracy of "the left" toward the promotion of antisemitism and anti-Israel activities. He was so intimidated by what he had heard coming from the BCTF AGM that both he and his wife decided to vote Liberal in the provincial election because the BCTF and NDP obviously supported "the leftist unions who are antisemitic."

The above is one small, but very prevalent example of a common perception of antisemitism in the political activities of the BCTF and other labour unions. This perception is further validated by the lack of first-hand knowledge and lack of balance when the unions publicly discuss the Middle East conflict.

It doesn’t seem to matter if "the wall" built by Israel as a defense against suicide bombers has been shown to be very effective for this purpose. In fact, the unions do not address acts of terrorism against Israeli civilian targets at all.

As a Jew who has had discussions on a personal level with Muslims in the occupied West Bank and more recently in Turkey, I can appreciate the historical complexities and corruptions on both sides of the conflict. The issues will not be easy to solve, and will most certainly not be helped along by the uninformed meddling of the North American labour-union movement.

If the unions and the BCTF cannot do a credible and a balanced job of discussing the educational issues concerning the Middle East (and they have demonstrated that they cannot) then they should concentrate on education in B.C. where they know the issues and can have a positive influence on them. The BCTF has more than enough on its plate in dealing with the politics around education in B.C.

Please stop alienating and intimidating our members and our potential supporters.

Kenneth Abramson
Vancouver (retired)

In late May 2005, The Vancouver Sun’s Pete McMartin wrote criticizing BCTF’s AGM international/political agenda regarding the Israel wall.

To quote Anita Goddard in Teacher, May/June 2005, "I am dismayed and disturbed."

My reaction: they are adding oil to the fire. Literally. Maybe they are not aware that a few months ago a Montreal Jewish school library was set on fire.

Only a librarian can appreciate the irreplaceable loss. We, in Vancouver schools, have been lucky, so far.

Have "class size, funding, and like trivia" all been sorted out with Mr. Campbell?

It is embarrassing that the BCTF need be told of their mandate in a local newspaper column.

Celine Wolfson
Vancouver (retired)

Leaky schools in B.C.

Like writer Noel Herron, I and other homeowners are very concerned that both non-residential and residential structures are at risk of ongoing water damage and subsequent rot because of a combination of factors including what is going on in the building industry and what is NOT happening in the office of the Attorney General. The Attorney General’s lack of teeth is appalling.

While my house was built in 2002 according to neither plan nor contract, there are also building code violations that have severely impacted the proper functioning of the home. Furthermore, the ensuing stress, delays, and legal dispute have eroded the quality of our lives. Apart from the fact that our house leaks, who will be held accountable? The insurance company with which our builder registered is currently under criminal investigation.

The builder’s lawyer is trying to tie the contractual dispute to warranty issues. How and when will I be able repair all the other problems, too? To my dismay, I have learned that part of the problem might be attributed to a toxic relationship between the builder and his subtrades and suppliers. For example, if the builder does not treat his trades and suppliers with respect, perhaps forcing them to cut costs by substituting inferior materials or even eliminating them (as in my case by not providing any flashing around the arched windows), then upon whom or what do you think these workers might take out their frustration?

I am very concerned about the effect of the furious rate of new home construction in the Lower Mainland and the lack of homeowners’ protection. I know too well how the dream of home ownership can become a nightmare.

Like writer Noel Herron, I and other homeowners are very concerned that both non-residential and residential structures are at risk of ongoing water damage and subsequent rot because of a combination of factors including what is going on in the building industry and what is NOT happening in the office of the Attorney General. The Attorney General’s lack of teeth is appalling.

While my house was built in 2002 according to neither plan nor contract, there are also building code violations that have severely impacted the proper functioning of the home. Furthermore, the ensuing stress, delays, and legal dispute have eroded the quality of our lives. Apart from the fact that our house leaks, who will be held accountable? The insurance company with which our builder registered is currently under criminal investigation.

The builder’s lawyer is trying to tie the contractual dispute to warranty issues. How and when will I be able repair all the other problems, too? To my dismay, I have learned that part of the problem might be attributed to a toxic relationship between the builder and his subtrades and suppliers. For example, if the builder does not treat his trades and suppliers with respect, perhaps forcing them to cut costs by substituting inferior materials or even eliminating them (as in my case by not providing any flashing around the arched windows), then upon whom or what do you think these workers might take out their frustration?

I am very concerned about the effect of the furious rate of new home construction in the Lower Mainland and the lack of homeowners’ protection. I know too well how the dream of home ownership can become a nightmare.

Lorelei Quiding
Langley

Dave Barrett’s comments on being named as an officer of the Order of Canada

"Barrett gave credit for the honour to his parents, his wife Shirley, and the many teachers who influenced his life.

‘What a lucky generation I belong to,’ he said. ‘Great teachers, great access to wonderful public schools. I don’t allow anybody to criticize teachers or the public school system. Teachers give so much of themselves that only shows up to a lot of us later in our years.’"



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