News Views: Happy B-day

But the history of Maple Ridge was secondary to the ongoing teachers’ strike.

Some birthday celebration, Maple Ridge.

With Premier Christy Clark and Education Minister Peter Fassbender on hand to celebrate Maple Ridge officially becoming a city on Wednesday, teachers and parents charged the entrance to the ACT, holding strike signs and chanting “shame” and “arb-i-tra-tion.”

The premier beamed bravely while talking over the raucous teachers about the 140th anniversary of Maple Ridge forming on the McIver farm.

But the history of Maple Ridge was secondary to the ongoing teachers’ strike.

The premier addressed questions about binding arbitration and legislating teachers back to work, and even suggested that it would cost an extra five cents on every litre of gas to meet the teachers’ contract demands.

But Fassbender shot down the suggestion of a tax increase to meet a negotiated settlement with teachers, but it was an interesting thought, nonetheless.

As teachers continued to chant – “Families first” and “Recall Clark” – the premier slipped behind the curtain back of the podium upstairs at the ACT, avoiding the angry mob downstairs in the lobby.

With Maple Ridge’s birthday all but forgotten, the teachers were unrelenting: “Hey, ho, hey, ho, Christy Clark has got to go.”

They have a right to be angry. The province has twice ignored court decisions that sided with teachers on the key issue of negotiating class sizes and composition, and they haven’t been paid in more than two months. Yet the province is spending more taxpayer money on appealing the second court decision.

The Liberal government seems to find money for projects it supports, like renovations to B.C. Place, but can’t afford to invest more in the education of the province’s students.

Some things never change.

The first school in Maple Ridge opened in 1876.

James Sinclair was the first teacher at that school, Maple Ridge primary, at the foot of Laity Street, by the Fraser River.

The first class had eight students.

Mr. Sinclair had to row across the river to get some of them to school each day so he could have enough to justify his salary, which was about 25 cents a week.

So the province of British Columbia has never really respected teachers.

Happy birthday, Maple Ridge.

– Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News