I don’t know about you, but I think this has been the most interesting start of a summer vacation I’ve ever had. After a long election campaign, made even longer by some very close races, and weeks of uncertainty about who would form government, we are now on the brink of new government in B.C. Last night, former Premier Clark asked Her Honour the Lieutenant-Governor for the dissolution of the Legislature. Exercising her constitutional authority, however, L-G Judith Guichon declined this request and invited now Premier-designate John Horgan to form government. We have a great deal to celebrate.
All three of the major party platforms featured post-secondary education prominently, something we can attribute largely to the success of our Open the Doors campaign in raising voter engagement on the issues of affordability and accessibility in our sector. In particular, after years of effort, our campaign resulted in commitments from all three major parties to restore funding for Adult Basic Education (ABE) and English as a Second Language (ESL) programs (although the B.C. Liberal conversion came somewhat later than the others).
Now, the NDP and Green Party have the opportunity to implement their historic agreement. By the time we’re heading back to our classrooms and our offices, John Horgan’s government will be sworn in and hard at work. Our Fall will be busy as we build relationships with this new government, engaging with key decision-makers on our top priorities, including revamping the funding formula, improving affordability for students, and developing mechanisms for frequent consultation with those of us who work and teach in the system. First in line, though, is a call to restore free tuition for developmental programs on time for the start of classes in September.
Government relations and public policy advocacy is critical to our effort to improve the post-secondary education system: to ensure that it is affordable and accessible for all, not just the wealthy few. This work is especially top of mind as we eagerly watch the transition from the government of the past 16 years to a new one. But in the meantime, we continue our work as part of the broader labour movement and in our communities. We stand in solidarity with those who are fighting for their human and civil rights. We acknowledge that while the government of Canada celebrates 150 years since Confederation, the work of reconciliation with the indigenous peoples – whose land was colonized to build this country - is just beginning. We join our LGBTQ friends and colleagues in celebrating Pride, but also in remembering that Pride marches originated as political events to call attention to hatred and violence experienced in those communities.
And when summer winds down, there is no better way to mark its end and the start of a new school year than by joining your local Labour Day celebration, marking over a hundred years of advocating for workers’ rights. I’ll be at the BC Federation of Labour picnic at Swangard Stadium in Burnaby, joining trade unionists from all over the Metro Vancouver area to celebrate the proud achievements of the labour movement, and I would invite all of you in the area to join me.
Stay tuned for periodic updates as we find out more from Victoria and prepare to kick off our next phase of advocacy for our members and our students. And whether you’re taking a well-deserved vacation or teaching through the coming months, I wish you an enjoyable summer. At the very least, it should be an interesting one!