Premier Christy Clark and her senior staff were involved in a plan to provoke a full-scale strike by B.C.'s teachers in 2012, the provincial New Democrats charged Wednesday.
Court transcripts obtained by the NDP and read at the legislature show the government's chief negotiator in 2011-12, Paul Straszak, briefed the premier's deputy minister, John Dyble, on a strategy that included provoking a full strike by teachers in order to drum up public sympathy for possible back-to-work legislation.
"The transcript shows the government was deliberately trying to provoke a strike," NDP leader Adrian Dix told reporters.
Straszak admitted in court that he briefed Dyble on the proposal, which shows "the premier was directly involved in this," said Dix.
The sworn testimony from a top government official appears to contradict both Clark and Education Minister Peter Fassbender, who have repeatedly said the government was not trying to goad the union into a strike.
The transcripts were of a BCTF lawyer cross-examining Straszak in B.C. Supreme Court on Sept. 17, 2013.
"He was asked first: 'So your objective as government was to increase the pressure on teachers to have them go out on a full-scale strike'," NDP MLA Norm Macdonald said in question period.
"(Straszak's) answer: 'Yes, I'll say that's correct.'"
Straszak was CEO of the government's Public Sector Employers' Council at the time, but has since left government.
The government opinion, according to Straszak, was that a temporary job-action by teachers would not provide enough public support to legislate teachers back to work, said NDP education critic Rob Fleming.
"He said in court, under oath: 'Cabinet would be in an awkward situation in the context of a low-scale strike,'" said Fleming.
Such job action included teachers withdrawing certain extracurricular services in 2012.
Teachers did not appear to be escalating to full strike action, and so the government strategy outlined "tools" that could be used to pressure them, including docking pay and cancelling professional days, NDP critic Carole James told the legislature.
So are we still sticking to the fiction that "teachers fired the first volley"?
When one person suffers from a delusion, it is called insanity.
When many people suffer from a delusion, it is called religion.