If you listen to Vernon-Monashee MLA Eric Foster, the opposition was thumbing its nose at due process during debate on legislation forcing teachers back to work.
“They asked how much the government and union spent on sandwiches (at meetings). It’s a total waste of time,” he said of an example of the NDP needlessly dragging out the proceedings.
“Get up and ask questions. Bring forward constructive amendments and we’ll look at them. Just don’t say something over and over again.”
Obviously NDP MLAs — like politicians of any stripe — were taking advantage of the situation. By hammering away at the government, they garnered media coverage and they made points with their traditional labour supporters.
However, Foster’s suggestion that the NDP, “bring forward constructive amendments and we’ll look at them,” needs to be scrutinized further.
Specifically, the Liberal government showed little interest in finding middle ground in its dispute with teachers. It stated categorically that there wouldn’t be any wage increase and Bill 22 imposes conditions for class size and composition (special needs support).
Allowing everyone to have their say is a legitimate component of democracy, but obviously the Liberals grew weary of being challenged so they brought debate to a premature end. Not only does that smack of arrogance, it indicates the government was not interested in finding middle ground.
In the end, Foster was right. NDP MLAs were playing games on the floor of the Legislature, but the reality shows they weren’t the only ones.
– Vernon Morning Star