Wednesday, October 19, 2005

More on the crown prosecutors

Josef, a frequent commenter on my blog, told me that my post yesterday simply wasn't true. He had not yet heard about this story. Here is more:

Michael Van Klaveren, president of the BC Crown Council Association, explains why the crown prosecutors will not be prosecuting teachers:

"It is our position, right now, that prosecutors are in conflict of interest position when it comes to prosecuting any teachers [...g]iven the striking parallels between the teachers and the government and the prosecutors and the government. [...] As prosecutors we can not condone illegal strikes, but what is happening right now is ultimately the fault of the government. [...] When they don't get what they want at the table they simply legislate. And in essence they are abusing their legislative authority.[emphasis added]"
Van Klaveren asserts that the govenment has been acting in bad faith with many unions around the province, including his own. Twice, the BC Crown Council Association has won binding arbitration in relation to wages and working conditions, but with Bill 21, introduced in February, the government ripped up the arbitration, oredered prosecutors back to wrok, imposed a three year wage freeze, and took away theri right to strike. No wonder crown attorneys won't prosecute teachers.

Also, Gordon Campbell and Mike DeJong come accross so high and mighty about how no-one is above the law, and how teachers need to respect the rule of law. First of all, let me firmly state that I do not believe myself to be above the law. It is very difficult for me to do what I am doing every day. However, I believe that teachers are fighting for something crucially important. Further, I find it very hard to have respect for the particular law that deems this strike illegal, given the underlying motivation for which it was created.

Van Klaveren has some good thoughts on this government and the rule of law after dealing with his own association's contract disputes earlier this year (taken from a press release from the BC Crown Council on May 12, 5005. Click here for the full text.):
"This Government agreed to and participated in arbitration. When that produced a result the Government didn’t like, it simply passed legislation voiding the decision and tearing up its contractual commitments. [...] The Rule of Law applies to everyone in British Columbia, especially the government. The Rule of Law does not permit bad faith and arbitrary government action. Just because you make the law does not mean you are above the law. This unprecedented legislation violates the Rule of Law and simply cannot be allowed to stand."
And that, my friends, is why teachers are on stike. It is still about learning and working conditions. It is still about a fair and quitable salary increase. But it is also about the right to bargain, to stike, and to have legally binding contracts upheld and respected. How can we trust a government who time and time again has ripped up contracts and overturned even supreme court decisions with their new legislation?

It's time for the government to start negotiating, and then respecting the contracts it negotiates.

8 Comments:

Blogger Josef said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10:44 AM  
Blogger Josef said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10:46 AM  
Blogger Josef said...

Okay, okay I'm going to delete my last two comments and go from there.

10:53 AM  
Blogger Josef said...

Now that I've found your source - well, my apologies (sort of).

However, as your Attorney General said himself there:

Attorney General Wally Oppal says the Crown prosecutors' concerns are misplaced, as they would never have been asked to prosecute the teachers.

He says that's because the prosecutors – and the teachers – are both employees of the provincial government. And he says that's why a special prosecutor was appointed.

"Nobody in our ministry would be asked to prosecute this case in any event. This ia role of the special prosecutor, Mr Doust, who has been appointed under the Crown Counsel Act. So really, it's a non-issue. And I find it somewhat disconcerting that Mr. Van Klaveren would be commenting on this."

10:55 AM  
Blogger Hillary said...

Josef' first two comments were just asking for my sources of information, which are totally fair questions.

When I posted yesterday, I had heard it on News 1130 Radio. Today, it's all over... CBC's website, newspapers, etc. It was fresh news yesterday, which is perhaps why you couldn't find it on google. The first quote from Van Klaveren was published in our picket line bulletin, and the second I gave the source as a link.

10:58 AM  
Blogger Hillary said...

Oh give me a break! I'm sure that the government saw this coming, so had their back up plan (Special prosecutor Len Doust) waiting in the wings. Yes, that's speculation, but come on! It was the Ministry of the Attorney General who appointed the "special prosecutor" in the first place (despite Gordon Campbell's claims at Monday's news conference that his government has nothing to do with that.)

In any case, whether there is a conflict of interest or not, it's more just another example of the government acting in bad faith when it comes to legaly binding contracts. Yes, the prosecutors say they can't condone illegal action. But they're also quick to point out that had the govenment respected negotiated contracts, including thier own, we wouldn't BE in this situation in the first place.

11:06 AM  
Blogger Josef said...

Yeah, you're probably right there Hilary: "had the govenment respected negotiated contracts, including thier own, we wouldn't BE in this situation in the first place."

I'm about to e-mail to you and some others an update.

11:37 AM  
Anonymous Nollind Whachell said...

Well said Hillary and thanks again for this quite revealing information. :)

8:18 PM  

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