LETTER: What is your definition of ‘realistic,’ Mr. Fassbender?

The Editor,

Re: "Peter Fassbender addresses Surrey constituents over teacher dispute," The Now online.

In his interview with the Now on Wednesday, Education Minister Peter Fassbender demonstrated a disconnection from reality so large, one wonders if he thinks he can reshape it with his words.

Mr. Fassbender claims to act "on behalf of every… taxpayer in this province." I am one of those taxpayers, and I am running for Surrey school board in large part to oppose the actions of this government and all its education ministers, including Mr. Fassbender.

In addition, had Mr. Fassbender actually taken a look at the rally outside his office, he would have seen many more taxpayers lined up two and three deep along the street voicing the same opposition, as he would if he looked to things like polling numbers rather than the Liberals’ wealthy and corporate backers for an impression of public opinion.

Mr. Fassbender further stated that the BCTF executive did not tell its members what his proposal was, as though had they known they would not have turned out in force at his office the way they did. Given that the details were rather widely reported in the media, it appears Mr. Fassbender thinks that teachers retreat to live under rocks when not walking the picket lines, a perception easily proven false by a leisurely stroll through Twitter, where many teachers have voiced their extreme displeasure with the government. Were I less charitable, I might suspect this as a tactic meant to divide the BCTF, or at least provide the illusion of a divided BCTF.

Mr. Fassbender then goes on to repeat the demand that the BCTF "come to a realistic approach on wages and benefits." What he does not include, likely in hopes that voters will not realize it, is the part where he sets the definition of "realistic" (likely based on marching orders from the Premier’s office).

To Mr. Fassbender, "realistic" apparently means that we cannot afford proper learning conditions for students or working conditions for teachers; meanwhile, we can afford billions in tax breaks for the wealthy and large corporations, billions for the Olympics, millions for convention centres and BC Place and, of course gigantic raises for the Premier’s staff. "Realistic" also apparently means spending more millions appealing court orders telling this government that upholding human rights is more than just "realistic," it’s the law, rather than just ending this charade and providing the necessary funding so we can move forward.

Nicole Joliet

Surrey

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