THE TEACHERS’ STRIKE: NO WINNERS IN SIGHT

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As I survey the battered, teacher-government battleground, I’m reminded of Oliver Hardy’s oft-repeated words to his bumbling accomplice Stan Laurel: “Well, here’s another fine mess you’ve gotten us into.”

For indeed, it is a mess, more of a mess than any of the many previous confrontations between the province’s 30,000 teachers and whoever holds the reins of power in Victoria. In my view, the teachers have legitimate grievances, but they have managed to wind up on an indefinite picket line against a government which, for the first time, is prepared to leave them out there, while gratefully pocketing millions and millions of dollars in salary savings.

At the same time, the war of words between the parties could drive a smiley face to despair. Christy Clark and Education Minister Peter Fassbender seem to do nothing but enhance teacher bitterness with every public utterance, while B.C. Teachers’ Federation president Jim Iker resorts to tiresome rhetoric (“Christy Clark’s lockout”….zzzzz) and pointless complaints about such irrelevancies as the government’s alleged failure to engage in “24/7 bargaining” on a pivotal weekend before the all-out strike. The only saving grace of the surprisingly long time it’s taking to corral a mediator is the refreshing silence that has fallen over the combatants.

Over at the bargaining table, the BCTF has, as usual, persisted in demanding unachievable gains long past their due date. All that does is give the government, which has been more inflexible than the teachers, the easy public relations out of costing teacher demands into the stratosphere. Nor is the situation helped by the BCTF tradition of allowing union members to sit in on most negotiating sessions, which often produces more grandstanding than actual bargaining. On the other side, the government, for all its demands that the teachers get real, barely budges on anything, despite Christy Clark’s stated willingness to bargain until the end of time…

The latest descent into the Twilight Zone was the ham-fisted attempt to involve miracle mediator Vince Ready. His name was trotted out and highly publicized before he’d even been asked if he were available. There’s little doubt Ready would have dropped everything and ridden in on his white horse, if he felt a settlement were within sniffing distance. But after talking to Jim Iker, and then to government negotiator Peter Cameron, he told the parties he was “too busy”.

I blame the government for most of the turmoil, beginning with that fateful, unilateral decision in 2002 to wipe out class size and composition limits from their negotiated contract. The stout defense of the move by a certain Education Minister, Christy Clark, is available here.  Since then, B.C Supreme Court Justice Susan Griffin has twice ruled the government acted illegally and ordered them to undo the damage. So far, the government has done almost nothing to comply. Instead, the government has treated those court decisions as little more than some sort of esoteric inconvenience, reminiscent of the province’s long-standing, cavalier attitude towards aboriginal title, maintained until the courts finally forced the cold, hard, expensive reality upon them. Not only that, the same government that ignores the courts has the nerve to constantly hound the teachers’ union to be reasonable at the bargaining table.  Yet few, beyond the usual suspects, seem to call them to account for this audacious display of chutzpah.

Once again, however, the BCTF has trouble doing itself any favours. Replete with negotiators who are elected, rather than hired, the union has a long history of being difficult to deal with. In part, this is because those perceived to be moderate or open to compromise or too close to the philosophy of Rodney “can’t we all get along” King run the risk of being drummed off the executive at election time. With the public sector pattern staring them in the face, the teachers have come down mightily on their basic wage demands, but on other issues, they still find it difficult to compromise, holding to the belief that negotiations are about getting what we deserve, rather than striking a deal both sides can live with.

And the union has stuck to its strike strategy devised early in the year – Phase One, no administration meetings. Phase Two, rotating walkouts. Phase Three, all-out strike. – despite aggressive new tactics (lockouts, wage cuts) by the government and no willingness to legislate them back to work. This appears to be putting more pressure on teachers, themselves, than the folks in Victoria. With no election until 2017, the government is sitting back, seemingly waiting for the teachers to surrender.

While that may be good for the government’s obsession with balancing the budget and its long-held dream of bringing the militant BCTF to heel, it’s hardly good for education in this province. Those are real teachers on the picket, not leaders of the BCTF, which get all the media attention. The increased stress and workload they experience in the classroom is real, too. But there is little recognition of this by the government, little appreciation that the responsibilities of teachers are different from other public sector workers. There’s no reward, no attempt to make teachers feel good about what they do. Instead, it’s mostly sanctimonious sound-bites about the need for the teachers’ union to be “reasonable”. And of course, that means being “reasonable” on the government’s terms.

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The other night in the bar, I bumped into a teacher after their big union rally at Canada Place. She was a reminder once again, if such a reminder were really needed, how committed and passionate most teachers are towards their duties and their charges in the classroom. “Despite what Christy Clark says, it really is about the kids,” she told me, with that earnest look teachers have. She was referring to a recent unfortunate comment by the former education minister and current premier. “It’s all about money – It’s never about the quality of education,” Clark warbled on the radio. “We’re never talking about the kids.” I wonder if the premier knows, or even cares, how much anger and resentment that kind of remark causes among the thousands of good, solid teachers this province has entrusted to educate our young people.

My teacher in the bar explained how the downsizing of resources to assist students with special needs shortchanges her regular students, as well, because of the extra attention she has to give those few others. “We need help. That’s what I’m fighting for,” she said. “I’m worn out. If it was just for the money, I wouldn’t be on strike.”

But sadly, she holds meagre hope the dispute will end in victory, despite voting ‘yes’ for a strike. “The government used different tactics this time. They played hardball, and we didn’t seem to notice,” she said. “We just went straight ahead, as if nothing had changed.” When I suggested that had put them on an indefinite walkout at the end of the school year, with no strike pay and little pressure on a resolute government that is replenishing its coffers every day the strike goes on, she sighed in agreement.

That’s the tragedy of this unfortunate, protracted dispute. It really isn’t about the obdurate BCTF and a hard-nosed government, determined to spend as little on education as possible to maintain its self-proclaimed bottom-line. It’s about all those individual teachers in the classroom, to whom we entrust the education of our young people.  While it’s tempting – very tempting — to blame the stridency of the BCTF for everything, there are two sides in this war, and for most of the past 12 years (the Carole Taylor-engineered contract the lone respite), the B.C. government has been engaged in its own offensive, taking a hard line on class size/composition, trying to provoke a strike (according to Madame Justice Griffin) and doling out minimal pay increases, when they are doled out at all.

Yet, as my teacher in the bar noted, the BCTF’s strategy in this latest showdown appears to have left union members in a precarious situation. Government negotiator Peter Cameron, who honed his bargaining skill in days of yore as a militant union leader, has arguably outmaneuvered the BCTF.

It would be remiss, however, not to point out that it’s hardly an easy situation for the BCTF. Cameron holds almost all the cards. On wages, he merely has to stick to the bargaining mandate already imposed by the government and accepted by other public sector unions, adding nothing more than a few nips and tucks here and there. I think even I could do that. And on the more critical class size/composition matter, the government has simply held firm to its original offer. Cameron would have given his prized sweater collection to have had a deck stacked so much in his favour during the days he negotiated against the province’s tough mining companies.

Teachers deserve better.

 

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25 thoughts on “THE TEACHERS’ STRIKE: NO WINNERS IN SIGHT

  1. Reblogged this on Aim High Salmon Arm and commented:
    A fine analysis of the “Twilight Zone” where teachers and the BC Libs exist – Bargaining, bitterness and blame Check it out!

  2. Teachers can make or break a society. Working with the minds of millions of our citizens. Government is throwing away a great powerful tool by not utilizing them. Imagine the power of a government united with its public school teachers.

    • The teachers need to be supported in their demands for more support for special need students financially as well as more support teachers for these students.The upcoming court decision must be accepted on both sides.Students have a right to full time excellent education.

  3. Thank you for this excellent in-depth understanding of the situation! I have two questions: 1)How will this end, what advice did you have for that teacher in the bar?

    2) How does one inform the public that the class-size composition, and specialists support issues cannot be solved by a strike, only a change in legislature. Teachers are only allowed to negotiate salary and benefits so it seems that money is the only issue that is important to teachers. Wage Leverage for change is the only tool BCTF has to deal with the unacceptable situations in classrooms. Thank you ! Lori Bazso

  4. Justice Griffin didn’t just say that the BC Government provoked a strike, it was admitted to on the stand by the government.

  5. Rob,

    The only problem with your article is that it has too much common sense.

  6. Excellent analysis Mickle, as always. I don’t think it can be stressed too much that the BCTF is nuts to try to negotiate issues that will ultimately be decided by the courts…the same courts that have consistently smacked the arrogant Clark government. I do not see the appeal court overturning the Griffin ruling. And as the parent of a teacher whose first year of a full time teaching job has been capped by an insane (and depressing) dispute, I have a hard time not screaming in anger from my balcony.

  7. As usual RM is railing against an unfair government……which in fact is us the taxpayer. I am tired of public sectors unions complainin about under-funding. That’s whey elect governments to handle the $. Not sure if I am single rower in the boat but we taxpayers who live on fixed incomes have little support of public sector unions who whine and cry about how hard done by but yet how passionate [whatever that means]they are, and how little moneys is made available. Give us a break. The pot of dough is only so big.. It was the teachers who were instrumental in the defeat of the HST and raising taxes. Where do they think the $ comes from….trees??

    • I thought the HST was a good tax……handled terribly by the Campbell government….

      • I agree. My parents were so angry with Campbell’s handling of the situation and voted against the HST purely based on emotion. On the other hand, I voted for the HST and am, believe it or not, a teacher.

  8. Why doesn’t the government put the money it has saved so far from the teachers strike as a one time offer into the learning improvement fund. I am sure it is a substantial amount. The union for its part should then drop the 225million for retroactive grievances, medical benefits, and prep time and just bargain on wages. Do you think this way, at least both sides get something?

    • Why doesn’t the government drop the court appeal and put that money toward the money that was taken out of the system when class size and composition was illegally stripped from the BCTF’s contract in 2002?

      Keep in mind that government reps testified in court that it would cost $300 million a year to restore class size and composition to 2002 levels. The $225 million that the BCTF is proposing for CS & C is a discount interim deal. Apart from the government’s desire to hold education spending at last year’s levels and possibly to avoid playing into other unions’ “me too” clauses, I don’t see why that and the other $225 million can’t be negotiated as well, although the BCTF is already offering what I think is a really good deal to the employer on CS & C. Instead, the employer rejected that proposal outright and countered with the “loser of the appeal gets to cancel the contract” proposal instead.

  9. well, i’m not sure the employer considers it “a really good deal”… 🙂

  10. If someone can answer my question. The Vancouver School Board is asking for a Industrial Inquiry Commissioner to be appointed in the teachers dispute.What is that and what can he/she bring to the table that a mediator cannot? Also, Michael Lombardi, the Vice Chair of the VSB speaks of Vince Ready, as if he chats with him on a daily basis, and comments that Mr. Ready did not want to mediate because he was not given terms of reference; if he was, he would have intervened in a heartbeat? Mr. Lombardi mentions that Mr. Ready was given terms of reference in the 2006 teachers dispute and was able to solve it. Is this request for a Industrial Inquiry Commissioner just another tactic for the media savvy VSB to stay in the news or does it have merit?

  11. An industrial inquiry commissioner has the power to “inquire” into a dispute, rather than just mediate….as such, as Vince Ready did in 2005, an IIC can issue recommendations…in 2005, both sides reluctantly accepted his recommendations, which were brilliantly casted…it was a big victory for the teachers after their illegal strike, but the so-called “militants” within the BCTF came close to rejecting Ready’s report because they didn’t break the government’s wage freeze (sigh)…yet there were all sorts of other goodies that Ready recommended, which cost the govt money…an IIC would be an excellent move, but it won’t happen….the govt feels it holds almost all the cards in this dispute, with no pressure to do anything but sit back…in 2005, there was a lot of pressure generated by a strike that was illegal, and the fact the govt was not very popular at the time….

  12. Hello Mr. Mickleburgh. I discovered you via The Bill Good Show and I look forward to hearing your comments on Monday. You offer (like Keith Baldrey, Vaughn Palmer, Les Leyne and others a balanced viewpoint of facts and opinions and it’s refreshing). As the saying goes in a war the first casuality is the truth. On Monday, could you provide some facts that will inform the listener as to why the government an the BCTF are taking the positions they are taking. Why won’t the government give monies for class size. Yes they have to balance the budget but it’s needed and the majority of British Columbians support it. Do it not by raising taxes or going into debt but by the savings from the strike( I have read a figure of $160-170 million. Plausible)?
    This would be a one time infusion in the short term until they will be forced in a couple of years to dole out much more. Or, knowing they probably will have to give much more later on, they are giving nothing now. The 75 million LIF is not new money. They have only put it into the contract this time. Big deal. Why doesn’t the BCTF just ask for the strike savings to go into the LIF and negotiate only on wages and scrap the 225 million for grievances, benefits, class time etc. They are not going to get it. British Columbians don’t support that. Is it because they are inept negotiators? They can’t distinguish between what the government will negotiate on and what they won’t? Does the BCTF feel they have to do what Adrienne Dix didn’t in the last election: attack Christy Clark continously and relentlessly? I, like many British Columbians, feel the government has to give more monies for class composition; I support our teachers on most issues but I feel the BCTF a incompetent bargaining unit for teachers; they haven’t achieved much for them over the years and teachers should be reminded of this. Again, look forward to hearing you on Monday morning.

    • Hope it’s kosher for me to butt in here, Azima. During the last court case, government reps testified that it would cost $300 million annually to return class size and composition provisions to 2002 levels. Given increases in the cost of living since then, the BCTF’s June 13th proposal of $225 million annually until legal challenges are settled is a bargain. While $160-170 million would make a difference, it would only be for the one year. The appeals process is expected to take longer than that.

      Please don’t forget, in terms of class size and compostion teachers are “asking” for what was illegally taken away by the government in the first place, and not even that! The other $225 million pot can likely be negotiated further, but since Justice Griffin ruled that the stripped conditions apply retroactively, I don’t think “scrapping” that additional pot is as cut and dried as you seem to be making it out to be.

      It just seems appalling to me that the government would spend all this money on legal challenges, a high-profile lawyer and a $225/hr + expenses mediator and not on what’s actually being negotiated.

      Why is it that eight other Canadian provinces can afford to fund education at a better per student rate than British Colulmbia can? Surely that speaks more to how the province is generating and using revenue and its spending priorities than outlandish behaviour and proposals from the TF.

    • Hi Colin. I agree with you that the government has violated teachers constitutional rights and the government, as is it’s right, has appealed and that decision will also be appealed and will ultimately be decided upon by the highest court of the land. Many commentators ( scholars, pundits, etc) believe the teachers in the end will prevail. I know it is a gamble, but the BCTF should right now focus on its wages only so that a deal can be made and kids can return to school in September. The BCTF in this current round of bargaining is fighting for the injustices that have been done to them for the last twelve years and it’s not working. This government was given its full endorsement by British Columbians last May, they have three years to go in their mandate, they were elected because taxpayers trusted them with their money more than they did the NDP and this particular union( putting aside what funding is rightfully needed for students) has more than any other union continously fought the liberals and their platform on every single major economic initiative that may generate revenue for the province.
      The BCTF as Mr Mickleburgh has said, should focus on what the government will agree to (reasonable wage increase, maybe a increase in the LIF) and let the other issues (retroactive grievances and substantial investment in class composition) be decided by the courts which many people believe will be decided in favour of the teachers. As the saying goes take the hand for now instead of trying to get the whole arm.

      • I think most classroom teachers who have lived through the deterioration of learning and working conditions over the course of the past twelve years will tell you that the status quo is NOT an option, so neither is negotiating strictly on wages. If my wife’s school is any indication, many schools are having a hard time finding and retaining SETs (special education teachers) because in the current set-up, their workload has become insane. They’re having to spend far too much time doing paperwork and follow-up on kids who have been waiting YEARS for extra support. Special education teachers are no longer doing much actual teaching thanks to the loss of specialist teacher positions, amongst other things.

        And many teachers are classes of six, seven kids designated as special needs with at least that many awaiting designations, and seeing little to no extra support for those students.

        It’s been twelve years! Teachers can’t just get on with things and go on with business as usual while we wait for the appeals process to go through. We need some sort of interim measures now, and not ones that will allow for a contract to be ripped up if one party doesn’t like a future court decision on this matter.

        Again, class size and composition were conditions ILLEGALLY REMOVED from a negotiated contract. What sort of message does this send out to employers, to our NATION, if we’re supposed to try and carry on as though this hasn’t happened?

        Perhaps the BCTF is asking for the moon, but on the other hand that’s part of the negotiations game. What the employer has been countering with has been a lot of proposals that are LESS than what’s currently in place. And just when the BCTF moves and comes up with something that’s believed to be in line with what the employer wants, the employer changes the goal posts! Don’t forget that the BCPSEA board was fired by the government just over a year ago and it’s largely believed that it’s because the government didn’t want or like the agreements that the former employer bargaining team reached with the BCTF.

        http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/former-negotiator-says-government-didnt-want-deal-in-teachers-dispute/article17366404/

  13. Hi Colin. Firstly the ridiculous stipulation that the government put in regarding both sides can cancel the contract if they don’t agree with the ruling is really a non starter and something the BCTF can ask to be taken off the table. It is negotiable and can and probably will be removed once serious negotiations start. Secondly it was the BCTF who asked specifically to be able to negotiate directly with the government that is why theBCPSEA bargaining unit was disbanded and Peter Cameron was appointed as a representative for the government. Thirdly if you read the contract that was recently signed with the CUPE local that represents SEA (and this union is no pushover) there are stipulations to hire more SEAs and give them a more diverse and engaged roles with students who have challenges. It may not be enough but at least it is a recognition by the government that more help is needed for the classroom teacher.
    Now you are right that the injustice of doing away with teachers rights of class size and composition without even consulting with the teachers first and trying to hammer out a deal collectively is a searing injustice. But remember even though Christy Clark was Education Minister at the time she wasn’t calling the shots. Gordon Campbell had a tight grip over his cabinet and he was the one calling the shots. Christy was doing what she was told (whether it was right or wrong is another debate). Also the agreement that then Premier Glen Clark signed with the teachers was not economically feasible. He knew that but to get elected he needed to appease the teachers and his trade off was a wage freeze in exchange for limits on class size and ratios for SEAs and special needs students. This is what the government is going to argue in its appeal that the original contract was going to be very expensive for British Columbians and it had to be ripped up( the way they did it was not right but it had to be done) in the final analysis, the government is not going to go into debt for a union that has opposed it’s every move. It may very well legislate teachers back to work in late September but not before it has inflicted much damage to the BCTF. Kids will eventually go back to school and teachers will eventually go back to work. Let the court deal with government injustices and mistreatment of groups of individuals. They always have.

  14. Azmina, you’re still not addressing the issue that things have deteriorated so badly in many schools in the past twelve years that they’re almost at a breaking point for some teachers. My wife had her teaching assignment rejigged for next year because she simply doesn’t have the resources or energy to deal with a class of not just special needs but also high-maintenance students. She probably would have had a breakdown otherwise.

    You’ve also not addressed the issue that while budgets may be tight in other provinces, eight of them are able to fund public education at a higher per-student rate than British Columbia. Why is that? While the provincial economy may not be firing on all six cylinders, we’re not a have-not province, either.

    The money’s there. It’s just that government has its priorities out of whack and has little courage to give revenues a little boost. It’s largely acknowledged that the corporate tax cut exacted by the Campbell Liberals has had little effect on the amount of private investment in the province, and I suspect that Kinder Morgan would pursue Northern Gateway whether the corporate tax rate were 11% or 16%.

    Education is an investment, like a house. You may go into the hole on paper, but the payoff is down the line. I don’t get any sense of some sort of vision for the well-being for the citizenry of British Columbia. For example, remember that BC has the highest child poverty rate in Canada and there’s no indication that the government has long-term plans on how to address this.

    I’d gladly pay another half-percentage in provincial sales tax if I knew that that revenue were going strictly toward measures to address issues with child poverty and public education. That would generate by my estimate another $400 million in government revenue annually. Would you be willing to do this? Would the government be willing to think so creatively and courageously? This is why the BCTF wanted to negotiate directly with government as BCPSEA didn’t have the mandate to make those sorts of decisions.

    • Hello Colin. Some final thoughts before I sign off. I don’t think that teaching conditions have deteriorated to the point of catastrophe. In my district Surrey, I don’t see teachers exhausted to the point of burnout. In my childrens’ school we have a school counsellor, a librarian(even though it’s part time) we have music and French teachers and sufficient ESL and SEA teachers. Teachers on the whole are motivated and happy and wouldn’t leave the profession if given a similar paying job. BC has done extremely well on PISA and OECD rankings coming out near the top. Why is this so. Because we have a very good education system backed by very good teachers. Making provincial education comparisons is misleading. Ontario just got a warning from Moody’s regarding it’s skyrocketing debt and it’s current and future inability to control it’s spending. It is spending money it doesn’t have and it’s going to pay for that in the future. Alberta has it’s rich oil sands and rich petroleum industry. I don’t see or ever have seen theAlberta’s teacher union protesting oil sand development. It pays their wages and resources for their classrooms. The liberals were elected on a promise to balance the budget and not raise taxes. If they broke their promise not to raise taxes Christy Clark would be booted out of office as was Gordon Campbell with his HST tax. Not every British Columbian is willing to pay half a percentage point more for other peoples children. Who came out in droves to vote for the liberals. Not young people or people with children. But the elderly and they might not take kindly to having to pay more taxes. Look , I agree the money is there. It always is. It is not always a matter of the fiscal reality but the political reality. Maybe in a couple of years the liberals will have more money in their coffers and If the economy is doing well there will be more money for resources. The political will is not there right now to increase taxes and spend more money. That is the reality with this government today and I hope that it doesn’t take the BCTF the whole summer to figure this out.

  15. Thanks for your input, Azmina. My final response is that you’re very much seeing things from the perspective of someone with a child in the largest school district in the province, one where over 600 teachers were given layoff notices although it’s quite likely that unlike most school districts, just about all of them if not all of them will be eligible to be rehired.

    I can assure you that smaller, less affluent districts are having a harder time of it. Even your urban neighbour Vancouver has had to resort to serious cuts in order to stay afloat what with the current funding formulas being what they are. In my district, the population is largely First Nations and those children enter school with a lot of strikes against them. Education is not doing its part to try to level the playing field and create productive, well-paid tax-paying citizens and thinkers.

    Yes, BC students are doing quite well on various measures of performance, but what’s being measured, exactly? If BC schools were evaluated on how well maintenance staff painted the entrance doors, they’d likely do quite well on that count as well. Performance measurements don’t necessarily mean we have “good schools.” It just means that students can answer test questions reasonably well. Some teachers I know will attest that having their students write various tests and evaluate their own learning was a horrendously stressful experience for the kids yet that wouldn’t be reflected in their responses.

    If memory serves me correctly, Gordon Campbell wasn’t “booted out of office” because he broke his word on the HST. He resigned for a host of reasons and issues which is typical for provincial and federal leaders who have spent three terms in office. He wasn’t voted out of office by the electorate.

    I don’t think the current government would get kicked out by the electorate for a tax increase that would cover increased spending on BC’s kids, either. It’s too early in the term for that, for starters, and I think most sensible people would see the rationale for it. Besides, only 25% of eligible BC voters actually cast votes for the Liberals in the last provincial election and unless voter turnout improves drastically next time, you’re likely going to see a similar lopsided, unrepresentative victory.

    Keep in mind that a well-educated populace is a better-paid populace. You’re not going to see that BC’s tax-base boosted with most of the wealth being held by a very select minority. I hope it doesn’t take the whole summer for the government to figure this out.

    • Hello Mr. Mickleburgh. If you could share some of your thoughts with me regarding this whole teacher dispute I would really appreciate it (if you don’t have time , perhaps another day). This teacher strike , this time around, has bothered me more so than others in the past. It’s not so much that I am worried about my children’s’ education being affected( I know school will eventually start and they haven’t missed much school) but it’s that this time around I feel that things have come to a head. Both sides have their legitimate concerns and even though the Liberal government , like you wrote, is mostly to blame , I feel that having just won the election, delivering a balance budget against the odds, and dealing with this particular union , they are not going to budge one inch on their position and for the first time in years, they feel no electoral or political heat to do so. The BCTF even though they are right to fight for the past injustices done to them by this government, are asking for too much all at once. It doesn’t seem they have a credible Plan B and unless they yield on their most expensive proposals, they are going to go nowhere. As a experienced labour journalist having covered many disputes ( even though I realize this is unique in its history and bad blood) if you were asked to provide some recommendations to both parties(Vince Ready 2.0) what would you recommend that would end the strike, open schools in September and give both sides not what they feel is right but what both sides will accept.

      • Azima, not sure if you realize that the “balanced budget” thing is false. The Liberals have ran up over 120 billion in debt according to their own books in only 13 years. That’s almost 4 times more than all previous debt run up in the history of the province.

        Claiming the budget is “balanced” is just an accounting trick the low information voters buy into. Read the actual budget they print and which the auditor goes over, debt is skyrocketing.

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