More groups need to adopt social justice principles

Campbell River Mirror: Friday, Nov. 25 editorial, “A definite disconnect”

Am I confused as to what the point of this Op-Ed is, or is the Editorial board of Black Press?

  • One, is it about the Supreme Court of Canada decision, which restored an agreement between the BCTF (on behalf of teachers) and the BCPSEA, the employer representative?
  • Two, is it about social justice, where issues like military recruitment are raised and discussed?
  • Or three, is it about the democratic right of a group, like the BCTF to ask – and ask was the operative word here – to pass a motion banning military recruitment in schools?
  • Or does this article try to create a wedge issue between BCTF and its members?

Given the section of concern – military recruitment as a social justice issue – comprised a quarter of the whole piece and was the segue to the conclusion, which suggests a disconnect between teachers and their representative, the BCTF, I will attempt to address all points.

First, if you really want to know why the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) found for teachers in B.C., for the webcast go here: http://www.scc-csc.ca/case-dossier/info/sum-som-eng.aspx?cas=36500

The long video shows all sides’ arguments and the oral decision after about 45 minutes.

In the history of the SCC, few cases have received an oral judgment, and few have been in such a short time.

Second, any organization that cares about the people it deals with – children in this case – should have social justice principles guiding its actions.

If the current government had been guided by such principles, then the Ministry of Children and Family Development would have had a much better record under the Liberals.

The Mount Polley mine disaster likely may not have happened either.

It is safe to say businesses, with social justice principles in their framework of doing business, are unlikely to engage in the downloading of their obligations at the expense of the public and the environment.

Third, as the article implies, asking school boards to adopt principles which protect impressionable young people from military recruitment in high school is a democratic right under our charter of rights and freedom.

There is no guarantee such a motion would be adopted, but we can and should ask, for all the reasons we should protect children from potential harm – we do not allow people to peddle harmful stuff to our kids at schools!

As a former reservist in Australia – I was proud to serve my University Regiment during my time at university and march on Remembrance Day and ANZAC day – I am still against recruiters in schools. I knew what I signed up for.

To be clear, in the current environment of sending young people into conflicts, which Canada has no business to be in, I would strongly advise my son from joining the military.

The number of young soldiers killed, maimed, or destroyed psychologically should give pause to all of us.

After all, we – as taxpayers – have funded such participation in Afghanistan and other locations.

Lastly, and this seems to be the confusion here: the BCTF represents the hard-working, dedicated and talented teachers and it is they who drive the social justice issues – teachers and union are inseparable.

It’s members debate – often vigorously – such issues; an obligation we should all consider as citizens.

But there is no “definite disconnect!”

I wish more organizations, like the BCTF adopted social justice as discussion points, as principles or ways of doing business – all of us – but especially our children would be better off.

Christian Stapff

Teacher, former reservist, BCTF member

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