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Teacher Newsmagazine Volume 16, Number 4, March 2004

College elections should be held now

The B.C. Teachers’ Federation Representative Assembly January 23–24, 2004, decided to intensify resistance to Bill 51, the Liberals’ takeover of the College of Teachers.

The representatives expressed outrage at Education Minister Christy Clark’s refusal to meet with the BCTF to resolve the dispute and at her political appointees’ aggressive pursuit of massive changes to the college by-laws.

On December 10, 2003, Clark said that she was prepared to restore democratic governance to the college council. The BCTF acknowledged her change of heart with thanks.

However, since then, the minister made it clear that she would keep her political appointees in place until they completed her changes.

"Democracy delayed is not democracy at all," noted Neil Worboys.

In what teachers see as a deliberately provocative move, the appointed councillors gave notice of motion to make sweeping amendments to college by-laws. They did so on the very day the Representative Assembly was to vote on when to remit the approximately $2 million held in the BCTF Democratic College Fund on behalf of the thousands of teachers who boycotted their annual fee in protest.

"We were shocked to see this appointed college give notice of motion to change about 200 pages of by-laws," Worboys said.

As a consequence of the appointed council’s aggressive pursuit of the minister’s goals, the BCTF Representative Assembly passed the following motions:

  1. That the government act on the commitment the minister made in the December 10, 2003, open cabinet meeting and dismiss the politically appointed council and hold elections for a democratic college.
  2. That teachers vote on remitting the funds now in the Democratic College Fund to the College of Teachers when:
    • a democratically elected council is in place;
    • there is a guarantee that by-law changes made by the political appointees not come into effect until ratified by the democratically elected council; and
    • the requirement to report on college members is amended to be similar to those pertaining to other professional bodies.

The new minister of education has agreed to meet with representatives of the BCTF to discuss our concerns about the college and other problems faced by teachers and students.

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