John Horgan Leader of the B.C. New Democrats
John Horgan Leader of the B.C. New Democrats
John Horgan
Leader of the B.C. New Democrats

Victoria: Education changes lives. It’s a gateway to opportunity and prosperity.

A strong public education system has the power to lift us all up. It’s a way to make sure that every child has a chance to shine and to succeed.

I know how important education is. I know what a difference good teachers can make.

When I was in high school I was on the wrong path. I was making bad choices. I was headed for trouble. But I was lucky. I was lucky because when I was in high school we had a government that understood education isn’t a cost, but an investment in the lives and futures of B.C. kids. And because of that investment, my teachers had time to see I was heading for trouble. They had the ability to connect with me, the ability to show me that education was a path to success. Those teachers believed in me more than I believed in myself.

Without those teachers, without a strong public education system, I wouldn’t be here today.

Unfortunately, the strong public education system that lifted me up when I was young, is struggling after 14 years of cuts – cuts that were started by Christy Clark when she was education minister. One of Christy Clark’s first acts in politics was to illegally rip up contracts with teachers. That was wrong because it was a betrayal of trust, a betrayal of the law, and it was wrong because of what she tore out of public education. Christy Clark ripped out class size rules, so she could cram more children into fewer classrooms.

Christy Clark ripped out rules put into place to ensure children with learning disabilities, blind children, deaf children, children struggling with serious illnesses, could succeed in the classroom. With those protections gone, she forced school districts to fire specialist teachers. She forced school districts to close their libraries, cancel band classes and many other programs. She forced a generation of B.C. students to spend their entire school years learning in underfunded classrooms and schoolyard portables.

She forced districts to close hundreds of schools.

Through it all, our teachers worked hard to deliver the best education they could for our kids. After 14 years of Christy Clark’s war on public education, the Supreme Court of Canada took less than 30 minutes to decide that Christy Clark was wrong. It was a great victory for kids and our public education system.

Christy Clark ripped off our children for 14 years. And now she’s been ordered to put those supports back into the classroom. Already, she is trying to spin this humiliating loss. After spending 14 years and millions of tax dollars fighting teachers in courtrooms, Christy Clark has no choice but to restore the contract she ripped up when she was education minister.

Her choice to declare war on our public school system cost an entire generation the education they deserved.

Christy Clark is going to try to tell parents she is doing them a favour when she does what the court ordered. But she has no choice. She’s not doing it because it’s right. She’s doing it because the Supreme Court of Canada told her she is wrong.

How can we believe Christy Clark when she promises to solve a crisis she created?

For her, it’s just another political game.

Parents and children deserve a government that understands the importance of public education. It’s the best investment we can make in our children, and our future.