The welcome but unexpected contract settlement reached with the BCTF means B.C. parents can now breathe a small sigh of relief for the coming school year. However, with a provincial election less than a year away, it’s fair to wonder what Adrian Dix and the NDP would have done, or would do, if they were in government and negotiating with the BCTF.
Unfortunately, Adrian Dix and the NDP appear to have taken a vow of perpetual silence on this subject (and on many others as well) and Dix has repeatedly refused to say what the NDP would have done, or would do, BCTF-wise. This is poor form for a political leader because it doesn’t provide the public with any way to gauge the merits of the approach an NDP government under Adrian Dix would take.
Fortunately, the not-so-distant past provides us with a pretty good idea how Adrian Dix would likely go about negotiating a BCTF contract, because when he was NDP Premier Glen Clark’s chief of staff in the dying days of the NDP regime of the late 1990s, Dix helped orchestrate a notoriously one-sided “sweetheart” deal with the BCTF.
Although the contract was sold to the public as a fiscally restrained 0-0-2 settlement, the arithmetic of the contract terms yielded a very different 11-per -cent total once the province’s school district administrators crunched the numbers. The real cost of Dix’s 0-0-2 BCTF contract amounted to an additional $1.3 billion (in 1990s dollars) for B.C. taxpayers and it led to the now famous headline, “NDP math: 0+0+2=11.”
So while parents, students and school staff look forward to a relatively normal school year this coming fall, we should also take some time to reflect on the lessons of history and the wonky NDP math that nearly sank this province. And after that it’s time for Adrian Dix to break his vow of silence and let the public in on whatever it is he’s got hidden up his sleeve for us this time around.
Mike Taylor, Port Moody